Democratic State Representative James R. Miceli, the second-longest serving member of the Massachusetts Legislature, collapsed during opening Little League ceremonies in his hometown of Wilmington Saturday morning and died at a local hospital, officials said.
Miceli, 83, was standing by the third base line at Wilmington Little League Park at about 10 a.m. when he apparently suffered a heart attack, said Wilmington Fire Lieutenant Bob Woods.
Emergency crews performed CPR on Miceli for about 15 minutes before he was taken to Winchester Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Woods said.
Miceli had represented Wilmington and Tewksbury in the State House since 1977, and a neighbor said he was a beloved figure in both towns.
“I can’t say enough good things about Jim,” said Joanne Neale, 71, who has lived across the street from Miceli for over 40 years.
“This is a great loss to the community, as a neighbor — just in general it’s a great loss,” she said in a phone interview. “He helped so many times in so many ways.”
Miceli had coped with several medical issues, including a February collapse during a political caucus.
On Saturday, he arrived at the ball field using a walker. He did not take part in the league’s Opening Day parade but was scheduled to speak during the ceremonies, Woods said.
As news of his death spread Saturday, Miceli was remembered as a dedicated public servant.
“Representative Miceli was a tireless advocate for his district & loved the communities which he served so ably,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo tweeted Saturday afternoon.
“My condolences to his wife Jean, his children, [and] his grandchildren,” said DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat.
Republican Governor Charlie Baker also paid tribute to Miceli on Twitter.
“We did not always agree, but he was always a gentleman, and a hugely aggressive advocate for his district and his beliefs,” Baker wrote.
Miceli was vice chairman of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and served on four other committees, including the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, according to his biography published on the Legislature’s website.
In 2013, he made headlines by adding an amendment to the state budget that would have reinstated the death penalty in Massachusetts.
The measure, which was introduced before the Boston Marathon bombings, was defeated.
Gus Bickford, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic party, called Miceli “truly one of a kind” who will “be missed by those who knew and served with him.”
Bickford credited Miceli for “working passionately on behalf of the families of his district, and helping to shape Wilmington and Tewksbury into the strong communities they are today.”
Senate President Harriette Chandler also released as statement on Miceli’s death. “Rep. Miceli was a gentleman, a fierce advocate for his constituents, and a tireless public servant who gave everything he had for the betterment of Massachusetts and his communities. His presence and voice will be missed.”Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Lucas Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.