Milford’s Richard “Dick” Roy memorialized with bridge renaming

MILFORD — It was the perfect location to honor former state Rep. Richard “Dick” Roy because he had cared about both the West Haven and the Milford communities.

Bridge No. 05751, carrying Route 162 over the Oyster River in Milford, was designated as the ‘State Representative Richard “Dick” Roy Memorial Bridge’ in a ceremony Monday attended by delegates, family and friends.

“It does mean so much because we grew up in West Haven, right off Ocean Avenue, and then came right across New Haven Avenue. So it linked our early lives with our later lives,” said his wife, Patricia Roy.

Roy was a former state representative for the 119th District in Milford and Orange. He passed away on June 2, 2019, at the age of 76. He started his 20-year legislative career in 1992, winning election after election until 2012. He did not seek reelection because the district lines shifted and excluded the area where he lived.

“He was a proud resident of the Woodmont Borough for most of his life, and he was committed to his family, to his community and was a mentor to many,” said state Rep. Kathy Kennedy, a Republican who now holds the 119th District seat.

A longtime former newsman, Roy worked for the New Haven Register’s onetime sister publication, the Journal-Courier, for almost 25 years. During his years in Hartford, Roy championed environmental issues and was at the forefront of pushing distracted driving laws.

“He pushed for the banning of the chemical BPA from baby bottles and stores products, he introduced legislation mandating the labeling of GMO products and one of the bigger ones, he secured legislation banning the use of pesticides on school property,” said Kennedy. “We are very proud to do this today.”

Patricia Roy said the location means a lot to the family because their streets intersected Ocean Avenue, and when they got married, they continued down Ocean Avenue.

“When my husband was a kid, he would come to Oyster River and fish, and he told me that all back there (pointing to Oyster River) before everything was built, there were blueberries,” she said. “So when they were in season, he would go blueberry picking. So both roads and this bridge mean a lot to us.”

She said Roy always did what he thought needed doing.

“He has done so much for the city and state,” said Lucien Roy, Richard Roy’s brother. “He was popular on both sides of the aisle.”

Louis Esposito, executive assistant to West Haven Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, said he was honored to be at the event representing the mayor, who wasn’t able to attend.

“Dick, myself and Jim all went in at the same time in 1992, the largest freshman class in history at the statehouse,” said Esposito. “Dick was a fierce fighter for what he believed in, but he was always fair, and I consider him a good friend. Once again, I want to thank the state delegation who put this bill together to get this bridge named after Richard, and the Roy family should be very proud of his accomplishments.”

Milford Mayor Ben Blake said the location is most appropriate because Roy had a special place in his heart for both Milford and West Haven.

“This bridge really does straddle those two communities that he lived in for his entire life. He had such a huge impact on me and everybody here, obviously, but he certainly did have a very big statewide impact on our environment,” said Blake. “I know the Oyster River was something special to him. He and I walked this bridge many times together, and I want to say, to Dick Roy’s family, that every time I think of him, a smile is brought to my face, all positive. Not everyone in this world you can say positive things about, but Dick Roy was one of those special people. Really there is no better spot I think to memorialize Dick Roy than right here.”

State Sen. James Maroney said Roy was a leader when it came to the environment and a mentor to many.

“I was fortunate enough to follow him in serving for the 119th district,” Maroney said. “When I started to run I sat down with him, and he gave me some great advice. I’ll always remember that he was always willing to share, and it shows a lot that we have so many former representatives, people who used to served with him, how much he meant to all of us.”

State Rep. Frank Smith, D-Milford, said Roy was a mentor to him when he got into politics, but he was also a role model. “His dedication to the environment, to public safety, all sorts of things have been an inspiration to me,” said Smith. “Now that I’m in the state legislature, I like to emulate him.”

Smith said when Roy was pushing the distracted driver bill, the last place you wanted to be was in front of Roy while on your cellphone.

“Attorney General George Jepsen remarked to me, he was driving one time to a convention, and he looked in the rearview mirror, and he saw Roy behind him. He thought twice about throwing his cellphone out the window.”

State Rep. Charles Ferraro, a Republican whose district includes Orange, Milford and West Haven, said Roy had a sense of humor.

“My first term, I knocked on all the doors of the district, and when I got to Dick Roy’s door, I introduced myself and told him what I was doing, went through the whole spiel, and he just looked at me and said ‘Yeah, I used to be a state rep,” he said.

TJ Casey Sr., former state representative for the 118th District, said that he and Roy went back a long way.

“I had the pleasure of serving with him, and I had the pleasure of lobbying him for many years,” he said. “He was an awesome man.

“He loved the city of Milford, he loved you guys,” he said, addressing the family, “and we will miss him dearly.”