Funeral services are set for Friday afternoon for a political giant of the Capital Region. Joe Bruno, the former New York State Senate Majority Leader, died this week at age 91. The Republican leaves a complicated legacy that includes several area development projects.
Joe Bruno was known around the capitol as a colorful leader with plenty of clout. He served in the New York State Senate from 1977 to 2008 and was Leader from 1994 to 2008. Bruno spent the next several years in and out of court successfully fighting corruption charges.
The Glens Falls native left his mark on upstate New York, using his legislative influence to fund major projects across the Capital Region.
Neil Kelleher spent 20 years in the Rensselaer County legislature. He currently chairs the board of trustees at Hudson Valley Community College.
"My dad, Neil Kelleher was in the New York State Assembly for about 30 years and actually was one of the folks who first brought Senator Bruno into the Rensselaer County area when Joe first came down from Glens Falls. He was a staff person for Perry Duryea, who was the leader of the New York State Assembly. Him and my dad became fast fast friends, of course."
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin says Bruno was a mentor and a friend.
"He was, you know, a complete gentleman and a statesman and an absolute fighter for all of New York, but especially upstate New York. He really was a driver for so much of what happened in upstate New York as far as economic development and making sure that the people of upstate New York were taken care of."
In an email message to the RPI campus community, President Shirley Jackson noted that during his tenure as Senate Majority Leader, Bruno improved the region's transportation hubs and created the foundation for the biology and nanotechnology industries now prevalent throughout upstate New York.
State Senator Jim Tedisco says Bruno was one of the so called “three men in a room,” along with the Assembly Speaker and governor, who controlled most of the major decisions in state government.
"Joe Bruno, simply said, was the epitome of what a public servant should be all about. A powerful voice for our region and the state, but not only a great communicator, Joe was a great listener. He understood that you had to work hard every single day to find out what the constituents of his community, his region, his senate district wanted their community to be. And he worked hard to fulfill that just about every single day."
Bruno also played a key role in bringing minor league baseball back to the Capital Region. Matt Callahan is General Manager of the Tri-City ValleyCats, the Astros affiliate based in Troy that plays in a stadium named for Bruno.
"He worked closely with our chairman and principal owner Bill Gladstone, and the two of them really had a special bond from working on their projects. Joe is somebody that we'll always be grateful to and hopefully the many people that visit the stadium will have the same sentiment when they come to enjoy a ValleyCats game each summer."
The pandemic shut down the 2020 Minor League Baseball season. Gladstone died April 30th from complications stemming from COVID-19.
In her letter, RPI’s Jackson said Bruno was "one of a kind, and his leadership and friendship will be sorely missed."