Charles Celeste Baldelli was born on August 4, 1933 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He and his brother, Dan, were the sons of Alesandro and Marina Baldelli. True to his native city, Charlie lives in the same house in which he was born. After attending public schools in Woonsocket, Charlie served in the army during the Korean War. After discharge he became an employee of Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company–a job he held for thirty-five years as he rose to an important managerial position.
Charlie was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1976 and served five terms, until he was elected mayor of the City of Woonsocket in 1985. As a legislator he served on numerous House committees and was instrumental in raising the drinking age in Rhode Island from 18 to 21 years of age. In addition, Charlie was successful in bringing a dialysis center to Woonsocket.
As Woonsocket’s first mayor of Italian-American heritage Baldelli initiated a top-to-bottom study of Woonsocket municipal government which resulted in its restructuring–a reform still in effect. Charlie was also responsible for the development of the Main Street Revitalization Plan. Aided by his background in manufacturing, he conceived the idea of a Labor Museum and hired the design consultants for a facility that has evolved into the Museum of Work and Culture. During Charlie’s four-year tenure Woonsocket prospered.
Among his other mayoral initiatives were the creation of the Woonsocket Neighborhood Development Commission to assist moderate and low income families to secure home ownership and affordable rental housing; the establishment of the Woonsocket Municipal Court; and the creation of a community assistance program that provided two homeless shelters for Woonsocket’s needy citizens. He also mobilized the city by hosting and organizing the city of Woonsocket’s centennial year celebration (1888-1988) in conjunction with the youthful Albert R. Beauparlant.
Charlie’s major economic initiative was his advocacy (begun as a legislator) of the Woonsocket Industrial Highway Project–the present state Route 99. That road beat a path to the spacious Highland Corporate Park to which Charlie and the Woonsocket Industrial Development commission brought job-generating businesses, most notably CVS, which was able to greatly expand its operations.
His other political accomplishments include service on the city council (1991-93) and the chairmanship of the Woonsocket Housing Authority, the Woonsocket Personnel Board, and the Democratic City Committee.
After his tenure as mayor, Charlie dedicated himself to creating a myriad of programs to benefit the senior citizens of Greater Woonsocket. He began a series of initiatives which resulted in the establishment of a community-wide softball league and a bowling league exclusively for seniors. In addition, he helped to create leagues for pool, Bocce, quoits, table tennis, and pitch. There are many Rhode Island mayors who have served well in office, but few, if any, who have devoted as much time and effort during the remainder of their lives to the service and betterment of their community. In appreciation of Charlie’s creative and comprehensive efforts to enrich the physical, social, and cultural well-being of his city’s senior citizens, the municipal senior softball field and sports complex has been dedicated and named in his honor. This widely-used facility is Charles C. Baldelli’s well-deserved Field of Dreams.
N. David Bouley
Albert R. Beauparlant
Dr. Patrick T. Conley