By News Staff
The first woman to hold statewide office in Rhode Island has died after a long battle with cancer.
Susan farmer was elected secretary of state in 1982 and served two terms. She was a member of the state board of elections and stayed active in politics even after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2001.
Farmer also served as CEO for Rhode Island's public television station for 17 years before retiring in 2004.
"She is among one of the most beloved leaders of the State of Rhode Island. We have lost an extraordinary woman whose distinguished career has left a long-lasting mark on our State." – Governor Lincoln Chafee
"My thoughts and prayers are with the Farmer family. Susan was a trailblazer, who lived by example and helped to open doors for women interested in public service. From her time as an elected official to running Rhode Island PBS, her priority was to always focus on the job of making our state stronger." – General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo
"I was deeply saddened to learn of former Secretary of State Susan L. Farmer's passing. She was a woman of great courage and political leadership, serving as a role model for Rhode Island women throughout the state who aspired to participate in politics at the level of statewide elected office. She has made a lasting impression on me and so many of my peers. Women from all walks in this state will be forever indebted to Susan Farmer for her service to Rhode Island state government, as well as for her accomplishments as a business leader at WSBE Rhode Island PBS. She will be sorely missed, and I send my thoughts and prayers to her family and friends." – Lt. Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Susan Farmer. Susie was a trailblazer who cared deeply about our community and whose capable, dignified leadership as Rhode Island's first female Secretary of State and later as the longtime leader of Rhode Island PBS will never be forgotten. The last time we visited with Susie at her home, Farah and I were very touched by how sweet Susie was to have activities planned for our young daughter and how happy it made her to spend time with the baby. That was Susie. She was an incredibly caring and thoughtful woman who touched the lives of so many. Years ago, when I had the opportunity to work with Susie and Mac's daughter Heidi, it was no surprise to learn that Heidi shared so many of her parents' wonderful qualities. All of our thoughts and prayers are with Mac, Heidi and the entire Farmer family during this difficult time. – Providence Mayor Angel Taveras
"Rhode Island has lost one of its finest public servants with the passing of Susan Farmer. For Susan, there was no battle she was afraid to take on, from successfully running as the first woman to hold statewide office to her final battle with cancer. Even after serving as Secretary of State, she continued to be a dedicated public servant as CEO of Rhode Island PBS and on of the Board of Elections. Some may say she was a role model for women interested in politics, but in truth, she was a role model for all of us." – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin
"As the first woman elected to statewide office as Secretary of State, Susan Farmer helped to open the door for many women who followed. She always sought ways to give back to Rhode Island, in elected office, as head of Rhode Island PBS, and as a private citizen engaged in civic life. The thoughts and prayers of the Senate are with Malcolm and the entire Farmer family in this difficult time." – Pres. of the Senate Teresa Paiva Weed
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Susan Farmer, who was a political pioneer, a dedicated public servant, and a successful CEO. She gave her time and leadership to so many non-profits and community organizations throughout Rhode Island and was a real inspiration to so many. She will be deeply missed, but not forgotten." – Senator Jack Reed
"I was deeply saddened to learn today of the passing of Susan Farmer, a true public servant and an individual who inspired so many to become active in government. Her work as Secretary of State and her example of leadership served as a model for me when I assumed the office several years later. As the first woman in Rhode Island to hold statewide office, Susie was a trailblazer. She was generous of her time and expertise, lending both to anyone who sought public office as a means to improving our state. She paved the way for current and future political leaders and for female leaders in particular. Her contributions to Rhode Island, to politics and to the electoral process will not be forgotten." – Congressman Jim Langevin
"Susie Farmer was a wonderful person who was a trailblazer for women in elected statewide office. I always admired her tremendous leadership at Channel 36 and her commitment to community service. She exuded charm, grace, positive energy and a joy for life, even in the face of her long struggle with cancer. My condolences to her husband Mac, who is a long-time friend and constituent, and the entire Farmer family." – House speaker Gordon D. Fox
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Susan Farmer, a former Secretary of State for Rhode Island who was first elected in 1982. She was a distinguished public servant and a real trailblazer as the first woman elected to statewide office in Rhode Island. After serving two terms in office, Susan spent nearly two decades continuing her lifelong devotion to public service as the CEO and general manager for Rhode Island Public Television. My thoughts and prayers go out to Susan's husband, Mac, and their entire family during this difficult time." – U.S Congressman David N. Cicilline
"Susan Farmer, the first woman ever elected to General Office in Rhode Island was a political trailblazer, serving two consecutive terms. She was also the first Republican to be elected to Secretary of State in 44 years, and forged a path for Rhode Island women for generations to come. More recently I had the honor of working with Susan as she continued her public service by sitting on the Board of Elections. It was an honor to work with her, to know her and she will be sadly missed," Mollis said. "My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends." – Secetary of State Ralph Mollis