CHENANGO COUNTY – One of the most influential political voices in Chenango County for the last four decades, Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrone, unexpectedly died on Friday, with many officials across the state offering their condolences.
Morrone was 78 years old and a Norwich native. He led the Republican Party in the area for nearly 40 years and was the longest serving party chairman in New York State at the time of his death.
As chairman he oversaw how the party used its finances and who was offered political support. He was a key connection to many state and federal officials for the area and help to raise a generation of local public officials.
He served on numerous boards and community organizations over the years, including the Norwich City Traffic Commission, the Greater Norwich Development Corporation, the Chenango Memorial Hospital, Norwich City School Board of Education, the St. Bartholomew’s Church, the Town of Norwich Planning Board, The Northeast Classic Car Museum’s Board of Trustees, NBT Bank’s Advisory Board, and he was a former president of the Chenango County Unit of the American Cancer Society.
A full obituary for Morrone can be found on Page 5 of today's Evening Sun.
“I think Tom was a local political legend that served not just the Republicans but politics for decades. He had a way of getting things done like no other and it benefited the people and community he love like no other could,” said City of Norwich Board President and Republican Party Secretary Matthew Caldwell.
“He was highly networked in the state with politics and instrumental in the success of Clarence Rappleyea, Cliff Crouch and Joe Angelino's campaigns. He also work closely with Fred Akshar and many, many others,” he said.
Caldwell said Morrone was a mentor for many and his political clout would be difficult to match. He said Morrone often got the county support from higher up officials who would not have bothered to pay attention to a rural county like Chenango if it wasn't for him.
“He was a really strong player in getting influence from Albany to our area. No one else locally really has those connections. It is a great loss to our area and our community. He leaves a great void that many of us will struggle to fill and carry on his legend. My most sincere condolences go to his family,” said Caldwell.
Chenango County Board Chairman George Seneck, who recently took over leadership of the county with Morrone's help, agreed with Caldwell.
“Tom was the longest serving chairmen in New York State. I think the connection he had regionally and across state were really valuable to our area. He had a lot to do with getting Republicans elected in Chenango.”
Seneck said he had met with Morrone just last week. “This was a shock to all of us. My condolences to his family. I think we need to offer them time to grieve. He will be a missed figure in Chenango County. I think serving in this capacity for such a long time – he was so influential in so many elections and knew so many key political figures across New York State.”
Former Assemblyman Cliff Crouch said, “I am very saddened to learn of Tom’s passing. I have worked with Tom since the 80’s and always admired his work in the community and the Republican Party. I am honored to say that Tom was one of my closest friends. He was a great man that quietly did more for people than we know. As the longest serving County Republican Chairman in the state, he was truly respected for his knowledge and dedication to the party. Tom truly loved his family, his community and his politics. We will all miss him.”
New York Senator Fred Akshar said, “Today we lost a great friend and true giant in the Chenango County Republican Party with the passing of Chairman Tom Morrone. Please keep his family in your prayers.”
New York Assemblyman Joe Angelino said, “I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Chairman Tom Morrone. His legacy will be that of moving forward the ideals that we all should share – a love of family and community. As Chairman of the Chenango County Republican Committee, he mentored and guided those who would lead in our community, including me. Through Tom's efforts, he helped make Chenango County, the place we call home, to be the best it could be. We have Tom to thank for that. My thoughts and prayers during this difficult time are with his family and all those who called Tom their friend.”