PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Daniel S. Harrop, a prominent leader in the Rhode Island Republican Party and noted philanthropist to religious and educational causes, has died. He was 68.

Harrop’s death was confirmed by the state GOP, as well as a relative who posted on Facebook that he “died suddenly on Thursday.” No cause of death was given.

“It is with great sadness that the Rhode Island Republican Party has learned of the passing of Dan Harrop,” state GOP Chair Sue Cienki told 12 News on Saturday.

“Dan was instrumental in establishing and supporting many conservative causes in Rhode Island,” Cienki said. “He was a patriot, loving brother, friend and husband. He will be sorely missed by all.”

Harrop’s most prominent moment in public life in Rhode Island came in 2014, when he was the Republican nominee for Providence mayor the same year former mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci made a final unsuccessful comeback attempt.

Harrop appeared to relish his exchanges with Cianci during televised debates and in other forums, and even donated $1,000 to Democratic nominee Jorge Elorza in a bid to block Cianci’s return following a corruption conviction.

Born in West Warwick, Harrop graduated from Brown University with a psychiatry degree in 1979 and in recent years saw patients at a private practice in Portsmouth. Over the years he was involved with an enormous number of charitable and civic organizations, from St. Joseph’s Church in Providence and Bishop Hendricken High School to the Sierra Club.

Congressional nominee Allan Fung and his wife, state Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung, said they were “shocked” to learn of Harrop’s passing, describing him as “our dear friend and confidant.”

“From dinners at the Boat House to political trips a many, his quick wit, his ability to find the silver lining in any situation, and that mischievous twinkle in his eye always made him one of the best to share an evening beside,” the Fungs said in a joint statement.

“His generosity to the Catholic Church was endless, as was his faith in God,” they continued. “We both believe he got a standing ovation at the pearly gates, and we salute him with a tear in our eyes from down below.”

Democrats also praised Harrop. Richard Luchette, a former aide to Congressman David Cicilline, recalled Harrop coming to Cicilline’s defense after a primary challenger made outlandish claims about supposed voter fraud.

“Dr. Harrop chose to set aside politics and do the right thing,” Luchette tweeted. “We need more of that today.” Cicilline himself added, “Dr. Harrop loved Providence and ran a spirited, principled campaign. May his memory be a blessing.”

A celebration of life for Harrop is being planned.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook