By Joseph R. Paolino Jr.
February 4, 2016

Vincent A. Cianci Jr., known far and wide as Buddy, was mayor of Providence, R.I., before me and then again after me. There were many projects Buddy started that I completed, just as there were projects I started that he completed. It’s hard to believe now that our history was complicated. During those days, we weren’t friends. We didn’t like each other. And we relished it!

Buddy, who died Jan. 28 at 74, had his troubles. But there was no greater champion of Providence’s revitalization. It is impossible to sum up his achievements in changing the face of the city, spearheading the celebration of culture, the arts and historic preservation, and building new parks and schools. That is his legacy. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “His place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Paolino was the mayor of Providence from 1984 to 1991

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This appears in the February 15, 2016 issue of TIME.

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