Former Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh, Jr. has passed away.

He was 70 years old.

Walsh served 16 years as the county district attorney. He defeated incumbent D.A. Ron Pina in 1990, garnering 61.7 percent of the vote against Pina (38.3 percent), who was still reeling from a lack of progress in the investigation into the New Bedford highway murders, among other issues.

Walsh then faced no competition in 1994, 1998 and 2002, before he was defeated by Sam Sutter in 2006. Sutter, a former Assistant District Attorney in Bristol County under Walsh, edged out his former boss in the Democratic primary by just 1,781 votes.

Following his 2006 loss, Walsh went back into private practice. He retired from law in 2019.

Walsh grew up in New Bedford and attended Providence College, graduating in 1976. After school, he went to Ireland and trained greyhounds before returning home to work in the Massachusetts state treasurer’s office.

He later worked as an assistant district attorney as well as a defense lawyer before becoming D.A. himself in 1990.

Walsh, a longtime bachelor, married his wife Dori in 2021. He is also survived by his daughter, Patricia.

WBSM 1420 via YouTube
WBSM 1420 via YouTube

“I was saddened to learn tonight of the passing of Paul Walsh, the longest-serving Bristol County District Attorney,” New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said. “A native of New Bedford and a former basketball star at Holy Family High School, Paul was a natural politician, a student of history, and an enthusiast of all things Irish.”

“As District Attorney, he assembled a talented team of prosecutors and unfailingly supported them in bringing difficult cases. The office secured countless convictions of individuals who victimized the innocent and threatened the safety of their communities,” Mitchell said. “But his greatest legacy is that many of his hires went on to become distinguished judges and elected officials themselves.”

“I am grateful for his support and encouragement of me, and his wise advice that public officials should remember to have fun along the way,” Mitchell said. “Paul’s untimely passing will be sorely felt in New Bedford, but his service has made the city and the rest of the county more safe and just, and maybe a bit more fun. I offer my condolences to the extended Walsh family.”

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“Paul was a hero to many as a young basketball star, and as a result, he always had that goodwill from the people of New Bedford,” said Scott W. Lang, attorney and former Mayor of New Bedford. “I knew him as an excellent attorney and down to earth guy before he ran for DA. As DA, he was a dedicated public servant. He will be remembered fondly by his city and his friends.”

“I'm very saddened to hear about the passing of Paul Walsh,” current Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said. “During his 16 years as district attorney Paul oversaw the prosecution of a number of significant cases. These included the successful prosecution of Father Porter and tragic murders at several local schools. I worked for Paul for more than six years as an assistant district attorney. During that time, I appreciated the support and confidence he showed in me by promoting me and allowing me to prosecute serious cases. I also appreciate his support during my time as the district attorney.”

“Paul was a regular guy who identified with the average citizen,” Quinn said. “He and his family have left a lasting legacy in the City of New Bedford and beyond through their many contributions to the community. May his soul rest in peace.”

New Bedford Mayors

New Bedford has had 49 different mayors, along with two acting mayors and one interim mayor.

Gallery Credit: Tim Weisberg

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