Ex-Legislator Remembered As Political Force In Hartford
May 27, 2011
The state House of Representatives paused during Thursday afternoon's legislative activity to praise Abraham L. Giles, the eight-term House member and longtime Democratic power in Hartford's North End who died at 84 on March 26.
As Giles' family members listened, lawmakers remembered him as a master politician with a low-key manner who served constituents in an old-fashioned, personal style.
"His political career was colorful, to say the least, but Abe was also one of the most generous men you'd ever want to meet," said Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey, D-Hartford. "He always had committed to his community and his constituents, and he pushed throughout his life to do good things for those who were less fortunate than himself. He kept furniture, appliances, pots, pans and all kinds of things in his garage because somebody might need them."
Giles served in the House from 1973 to 1989, but afterward remained a formidable and sometimes controversial force in Hartford.
Kirkley-Bey defeated Giles in his final campaign in 2008, when he challenged her for the 5th House District seat. "We had our share of arguments," she said. "But Abe did not back down. If he felt he was right he came at you - in a more subtle, diplomatic way, but he came. And I will miss him dearly."
Giles "was famed for his one-on-one case work," said Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford. "In today's modern legislature we have case workers that do an excellent job for us, but he did a lot of that work himself, where people would call him and he would deal with their crisis situation on the phone, no matter what time of the day or night."
Giles' niece, Sylathia Giles of Hartford, said it "means a lot" that several lawmakers were moved to "appreciate him that way, and it is an honor."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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