The first Greek-American elected to state office in Rhode Island, George Panichas has died. According to a spokesman for Democratic lawmakers, Panichas died early Thursday morning. The former state representative was 87 years old. He was a Democrat from Pawtucket and served in the state House of Representatives from 1971 until 1984. His work for former servicemen and women was honored by naming a building at the Rhode Island Veterans’ Cemetery after Panichas two years ago. Panichas served in World War II, flying 50 missions over Europe. On Friday, Gov. Don Carcieri stated that state flags will remain at half-staff until Panichas is buried; since they were brought down earlier this week for a Marine killed in Afghanistan. Panichas was not only a member of the House Finance Committee and chairman of the Oversight Committee for Veterans’ Cemetery, but he also served as a member of the Rhode Island Veterans’ Advisory Board and Veterans Cemetery in Exeter.
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