BOSTON — Thomas McGee, a tough-talking, cigar-chewing ex-Marine who played a key role in Massachusetts politics as House speaker for nearly a decade, has died. He was 88.
McGee, of Lynn, died Friday after ailing for some time, the family announced on Saturday through David Solimine Sr., a longtime friend and owner of a local funeral home handling the final arrangements.
McGee served in the U.S. Marines during World War II and graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1953.
Voters in Lynn elected the Democrat to the House of Representatives in 1962, where he eventually served for 28 years and rose through the ranks until he became speaker in 1975. He served in that post for a then-record five terms until lawmakers voted for the first time in modern history to oust a sitting speaker on Jan. 2, 1985. He was replaced by the former majority leader George Keverian, whom McGee had fired a year earlier in a power dispute.
Much of Keverian’s support came from “rules reformers” who demanded that the speaker’s vast power be restricted and members be kept better informed of action on major issues.
“Well, the House of Representatives has spoken. As a member of the House for the past 22 years and one deeply committed to the principles of this great legislative body … I must accept the judgment of this House,” McGee said after the vote.