PROVIDENCE — Raymond S. DeLeo, a central figure in a scandal that led to the resignation of former mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci of Providence in the 1980s, has died. He was 89.
Mr. DeLeo, a lifelong resident of Bristol who was involved in Republican politics, died at Rhode Island Hospital Feb. 5 after a brief illness, his son, Stephen, said Wednesday.
Raymond DeLeo unwittingly found himself at the center of Rhode Island politics in 1983, when Cianci, believing that Mr. DeLeo was the lover of his estranged wife, was accused of assaulting him in an attack at the former mayor’s home on the East Side of Providence.
The incident was said to involve a fireplace log, a lit cigarette, and an ashtray.
Cianci — who described the charges in his book, “Politics and Pasta,” as being “trumped-up” — said the confrontation with Mr. DeLeo “changed my life dramatically.”
The mayor was forced from office in 1984 after pleading guilty to felony assault and believed that his political career was over. Cianci later staged a political comeback, only to resign from the mayor’s office again after a conviction on corruption charges.
Mr. DeLeo founded and ran his own contracting business, Raymond Construction Co., continuing to work until his death, Stephen DeLeo said.
Mr. DeLeo also became active in Republican politics, serving in local positions, as the state chairman of Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaign, and as a delegate to national Republican conventions in Chicago, San Francisco, and Miami.
“It was something that always fascinated him,” said Stephen DeLeo.
Mr. DeLeo graduated in 1941 from what was then Colt Memorial High School, where he played football on the state championship team.
He attended Wesleyan and Princeton universities and Trinity College in Hartford as part of a US Navy training program during World War II.
He served in the Aleutian Islands.
Stephen DeLeo said his father was a New England Patriots fan — he held season tickets for more than 40 years — and loved being on the water in his old wooden powerboat.
In addition to his son, Mr. DeLeo leaves his wife of 68 years, Ann, three other children, and six grandchildren.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for March 23 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Bristol.