Carol Mumford: Spirited English teacher, savvy state leader

Carol Mumford: Spirited English teacher, savvy state leader

Remembered as 'one of the groundbreaking women leaders in Rhode Island'

SCITUATE - Colleagues in the R.I. House of Representatives, Rhode Island College and the Scituate School Department remember the late Carol A. Mumford as a savvy politician and a classy lady, an English teacher who loved to quote Shakespeare to state lawmakers.

Mumford, a resident of the Hope section of town, died July 19 at the age of 70, leaving her husband of 48 years, Richard A. Mumford Sr., and two adult children, Richard A. Mumford Jr. of Hope and Ann M. Allridge of London, England, as well as four grandchildren.

With both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Rhode Island College, Mumford was best known in Scituate as chair of the high school English Department where she also taught English. She was hired in August, 1976 specifically to chair the English Department, said Supt. Paul A. Lescault, and held that post until she retired in June, 1997.

"She was an incredible lady," Lescault said, "a consummate lady, very articulate and very bright."

"She was an outstanding educator, as a teacher and department chair," he told The Breeze & Observer. "She worked very hard to make Scituate High School one of the best schools in the state."

Nancy Carriuolo, president of Rhode Island College where Mumford was an adjunct professor, had this to say of her:

"I considered Carol Mumford to be a friend and mentor. When I first came to Rhode Island, I met Carol through her husband Dick, who worked with me at the Office of Higher education. Carol was lovely, gracious, knowledgeable about K-12 education and higher education, and politically astute.

"As a member of the legislature, she always read pending legislation carefully and could discuss implications for higher education with me. I think of Carol Mumford as one of the ground-breaking women leaders in Rhode Island.

"She was RIC alum of whom we were very proud and whom we will miss greatly."

For the national Republican Party, she served as committeewoman from Rhode Island, elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, serving on the Technology and Rules Committee. She also served on the Rules Committee for the Republican National Conventions in 2008 and 2012, and attended several GOP conventions.

Closer to home, she represented Scituate in the R.I. House of Representatives, serving 10 years from 1999 until 2009, and was a member of both the Scituate Republican Town Committee and the Rhode Island Republican State Central Committee. In the House, she served as ranking member of the House Finance Committee, senior deputy majority leader and the minority House fiscal policy advisor.

Nicholas Gorham of Foster, a Republican who served in the legislature for the same decade as Mumford and sat next to her in the House, called her "a good and loyal friend in politics, which is something to behold. You don't forget people like that."

"She always was classy even in the most contentious circumstances, and there were plenty," Gorham said. "She was the only person to my recollection who enjoyed quoting Shakespeare on the floor of the House, which is more like a slaughterhouse for English." Gorham knew that, if Carol were present next to him, when he rose to speak on the House floor, his words would be properly phrased. "I always got it right when Carol was there," he recalled.

"She would always make sure my grammar was proper." State Sen. Nicholas D. Kettle, of Coventy, the youngest lawmaker ever elected to the state Senate who is now 23 years old, recalled that Mumford helped him when he first ran for office in 2010 for the seat he now holds, representing his hometown, Foster, Scituate and West Greenwich.

At Nick Gorham's suggestion, Kettle said, "I reached out to Carol Mumford... I knocked on her door and for about an hour we talked and she gave me the lay of the land. She was a wonderful lady, one of the nicest people I've ever met. She signed my nomination papers and gave me a lot of good advice."

Kettle and Mumford kept in touch over the years. "She was full of encouragement, insight and ideas," the Republican said, "and she always stressed her proper grammar." Kettle said he had no idea she was so sick and he was "in absolute shock" to learn she had died.

Carol Mumford was laid to rest in a private service July 24 after a service at Winfield & Sons Funeral Home in Scituate.