On Slater

In a state where politics can be a blood sport, state Rep. Thomas C. Slater - who died today after battling cancer - stood out for his compassion and decency. Cynthia Needham of the ProJo had a great piece on him in June.

On a warm May day as business droned on in the House chamber and distracted lawmakers chatted in the aisles, Providence Rep. Tom Slater got slowly to his feet and the room fell silent.

Slater, pale from chemotherapy treatments, thanked his colleagues for passing a bill that would create marijuana dispensaries for chronically ill patients.

“To go through cancer, or to go through a debilitating disease, is extremely, extremely hard,” he told a rapt audience. “One day you might feel great. The next day you might have pain all over your body.”

Legislators knew he was speaking of his own battle with breast cancer that has invaded much of his body.

In that moment they too stood, applauding the frail man as he sank back into his chair. A few swiped at tears.

“That’s why we love you Representative Slater,” Majority Leader Gordon Fox said into the microphone. “You are truly a magical person. Keep on fighting brother. Keep on fighting.”

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