Speaker John Harwood

Inducted: 2022
Born: 1952

John Harwood is a man of great ability and versatility He has generated impressive careers in sports, politics, law, and humanitarian service. In every endeavor he has assumed the mantel of leadership.

John was born in Providence on January 14, 1952, the son of Pawtucket residents Bernard and Helen Harwood.

Harwood’s career in sports came first and continues to this day. At Mount St. Charles Academy as team captain, he earned All-State honors in baseball twice and was All-State in hockey for three successive years. In 1970 he was selected as the Journal-Bulletin’s Honor Roll Boy as Rhode Island’s premier high school student-athlete.

John continued his winning ways at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania earning a B.S. in Economics.

In athletics he was All-Ivy League and All-East in both hockey and baseball and captained the hockey team. In 1999 John was inducted into the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame.

After his successful sojourn in Pennsylvania (1970-1974), John earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Miami (1975) and then his J.D. from the Boston College School of Law. He was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar in 1978.

John secured election as a state representative from Pawtucket in 1980. His innate leadership skills, honed in sports, led to his election as Speaker of the House in 1993.

During the decade 1993 to 2003, Harwood became justly known as a speaker who enthusiastically wielded the great powers of his office. He was a strong defender of the traditional powers of the General Assembly. His interest in sports made him a major participant in the $19 million McCoy Stadium renovation, and the expansion of sporting venues at the University of Rhode Island, including the Ryan Center for basketball and Boss Arena, a major skating venue for children and young adults.

Among other economic initiatives implemented with his legislative support were the Providence Place Mall , the establishment of Fidelity Investment’s headquarters in Rhode Island, and, in cooperation, with Bruce Sundlun, the expansion of the state airport. He also joined with Governor Sundlun in creating Rite-Care, the state-managed program providing needy families with comprehensive health insurance coverage.

Harwood’s legal efforts are equally impressive in his specialties of personal injury, domestic law, construction law, products liability, sports agency, and especially criminal law. After his own ordeal, during which he was libeled by opponents, Harwood has been a vigorous defender of those unjustly accused of criminal activity.

John has served on the Big Brothers Advisory Board and was the recipient of the Big Brothers Humanitarian award in 2000, a year in which he was designated March of Dimes Citizen of the Year. He has been involved with the Autistic Society of Rhode Island for over three decades and is a long-time supporter of the Groden Center, which assists people with autism and other developmental challenges.

John, now a resident of Lincoln, is married to the former Patricia May Lynch, a retired Superior Court magistrate. They have four children, John, Kylie, Lindsay, and Olivia.

John Hartwood began his career with great promise, and he has fulfilled that promise admirably.

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