Robert K. Killian, who grew up in Hartford's Frog Hollow and rose to top offices in state government during the 1960s and 1970s, died Saturday, June 25, after a brief illness. He was 85.
Killian, who was Connecticut attorney general and then lieutenant governor under Gov. Ella Grasso, grew up in a political family. The Hartford Courant reports that his father, Edward, served as a ward chairman for the local Democrats and as a Democratic state central committeeman in the 1920s and 1930s while working as a superintendent at city hall. After graduating from Hartford High School in 1937 and from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1942, Killian served in World War II as commander of an infantry company; in four years of service in the Pacific, which included the campaigns for Kwajalein, Palau, Mindinao, and Okinawa, he earned four battle stars and a Purple Heart.
Thanks to the G.I. Bill, he attended the Hartford Law School after the war. A few years after graduation, he co-founded the Hartford law firm of Gould, Killian and Krechevsky (now Gould, Killian and Wynne.) He became Hartford Democratic town chairman in 1963; according to his obituary, he was proud of his leadership during this period in electing Hartford's first African-American councilman and its first African-American state senator. His friendship with Democratic State Chairman John Bailey resulted in his appointment as attorney general in 1967; he won election in his own right in 1970. In 1974, he was elected lieutenant governor on a ticket headed by Grasso. In 1978, however, he took on Grasso in bitter primary battle for the gubernatorial nomination and lost. After leaving state service, Killian spent a decade as chairman of the Hartford Civic Center and Coliseum Commission.
Read the full obituary, which is different from the news story, here.