Harry Fawkes, longtime Bucks GOP leader, dies at 83

Bucks County GOP Chairman Harry Fawkes in 2011. (Photo from senatortomlinson.com)

Harry Fawkes, a giant of Pennsylvania politics who was chairman of the Bucks County Republican Committee for four decades, died Tuesday. He was 83.

 “His friendship and counsel will be missed by many,” state GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said in a statement.

Fawkes nurtured a powerful organization that has dominated the Bucks County courthouse for 25 years. As Gleason noted, he was credited with helping two county commissioners become lieutenant governor, incumbent Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and Mark Schweiker, who became governor in 2001 when Tom Ridge was chosen as the first director of the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Outside politics, Fawkes was a butcher and later founded a garbage-hauling business, which he sold to Waste Management in the mid 1980s.

Fawkes’ family told the Bucks County Courier Times he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  He had retired as chairman last year.

“I am incredibly fortunate and honored to have known Harry Fawkes,” U.S. Rep Mike Fitzpatrick (R.,Pa.) said in a statement. “ On a personal level, his friendship and advice made me a stronger public servant and a better person….Our community has lost a giant of a man – strong in stature, in principle, in humility and graciousness.”