Former State Senator Joseph H. Harper, Jr. (D-6) has passed away, leaving a legacy of accomplishment and long service, to New Britain and Berlin who he represented in the legislature, but also statewide.
Harper rose through the ranks of New Britain politics, serving as an city alderman and mayoral aide, before being elected to represent the Twenty Fourth Assembly District in the State House of Representatives.
After serving for two terms in the State House of Representatives, Harper was elected as a State Senator, where he served for six terms.
He served, for a long time, as the Chair of the powerful legislative Appropriations Committee, from which he wielded great power in the state General Assembly.
Harper was a strident advocate in the legislature for New Britain, using his position of influence to bring millions of dollars in different forms of state aid to his hometown.
He later served as a Deputy State Treasurer, as a Vice President of Central Connecticut State University and as a Vice President of the Hospital for Special Care.
After retiring from the Hospital for Special Care, he devoted his efforts full-time to weight loss.
Harper received a rare honor in 2006 when the state office building in downtown New Britain was named after him, through the efforts of one of his successors, former State Senator Donald DeFronzo (D-6), and with the support of former Gov. Jodi Rell (R-CT).
Harper was a long time resident of Wynola Avenue in New Britain’s East Side, and his modest home was a center of political life in the city for a generation.
Harper passed away at his home in Berlin on May 20, 2018 at the age of 70. He leaves his sister, Mary Ellen Jimenez of New Britain, nephew, Rory Breau, grand niece and Godchild, Kayleigh Jimenez and her two sons, Damien Rodriquez and Nicholas Ruberto. Besides his parents, Joseph Harper, Sr. and Ann (Muccino) Harper, Joe was predeceased by his sister, Carole Ann Santos, two nieces, Robin and Myra Yuskis and a nephew, Fernando Jimenez.
Calling hours for Harper are Thursday, May 24th, 4:00pm to 8:00pm, and will be held at Carlson Funeral Home at 45 Franklin Square. Funeral services are Friday, May 25th at 9:00am at Carlson Funeral Home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial 10:00am at St. Joseph Church of the Divine Providence Parish, 195 South Main Street. In lieu of flowers, it is asked that donations be may be made to the Harper Center for Autism at the Hospital for Special Care, 2150 Corbin Avenue, New Britain, CT 06053 or to the Prudence Crandall Center, 594 Burritt Street, New Britain, CT 06053.