A Connecticut native, Ella Grasso is best-known for being the first elected female governor of the state. Grasso served two terms in the United States Congress from 1970-74, and after not seeking reelection, she instead ran for governor in Connecticut. She won the election, and ended up winning a reelection bid in 1978. Grasso gained acclaim for her handling of the “Blizzard of 1978” with her closing of the state during the storm.
She was also instrumental as a proponent of building the Hartford Civic Center to bring more life into the city, and was also in favor of rebuilding the arena following the collapse of the roof in January 1978. In late 1980, Grasso was diagnosed with cancer and forced to resign from her post as governor, passing away just several weeks later at the age of 61.
Grasso has earned several notable honors posthumously, including her being awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor by President Ronald Reagan, and she was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Grasso was also included in the inaugural class of the Hartford Whalers Hall of Fame for her support of the building and the team in 1989.