Representative Joyce Spiliotis, a Peabody Democrat who has served in the Massachusetts House for 10 years, died this morning, according to House leaders and her family.
“I was truly shocked and saddened to learn of the death of my good friend and colleague, Representative Joyce Spiliotis,” Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a statement. “Joyce fought passionately for the causes and people of Peabody. She was down-to-earth, funny and universally liked by her colleagues in the Legislature as well as staff. All of us in the House of Representatives will miss her deeply.”
Spiliotis, 65, attended Peabody High School and served on the Peabody City Council from 1994 through 2003, according to her state biography. The State House News reported that she had previously been diagnosed with cancer.
A statement issued this morning by her family indicated that she had kept her illness quiet. She is survived by two daughters and was married to Richard Jarvis.
“Joyce was a public figure, but a very private person,” the family said. “She fought her battle courageously in private, as she fought publicly for issues important to her constituents. This is a painful and personal time for us. We will have no further public comments, and appreciate the thoughts and prayers of all who loved her as we did.”
House minority leader Bradley H. Jones Jr., a North Reading Republican, said in a statement that he and Spiliotis have long joked about the time she accidentally walked into a Republican caucus meeting.
“She was a fierce advocate for causes she believed in and matters critical to her constituents,” Jones said. “Partisan politics aside, Joyce was a great person to work with in the House and she will be missed.”
Spiliotis served as the vice chairwoman of the joint committee on municipalities and regional government, the ways and means committee, the consumer protection and professional licensure committee, and the global warming and climate change committee.