November 13, 2017

In Memoriam: Remembering Our Friars

William “Bill” L. Eason, Jr. ’78, a four-year member of the men’s basketball team who helped lead the Friars to two NCAA and two NIT post-season appearances, died on Sept. 24, 2017. A 6-5 forward from Waterbury, Conn., Mr. Eason was part of one of the greatest recruiting classes of the late legendary Friar coach, Dave Gavitt ’89Hon., along with Bob Misevicius ’78 and the late Bruce “Soup” Campbell ’78. Mr. Eason, who majored in education, scored 1,159 points and collected 800 rebounds during his PC career. He scored the winning basket in the Friars’ 61-59 upset win over No. 7 North Carolina in the famous Blizzard of ’78 game in Providence.  Read more on the life of William L. Eason, Jr.

Carlo A. Gamba ’52, who received the Faithful Friar Award from the National Alumni Association in 1997 for his service to PC, died on April 25, 2017. Mr. Gamba studied education at PC. He was a teacher, principal, and director of grant programs during his career and was president of the Rhode Island Retired Teachers Association and the Greater Providence Retired Teachers Association. In 2015, he received the R.I. Attorney General’s Justice Award for Senior Protection for his work through the AARP to educate seniors about fraud prevention. Mr. Gamba served on PC’s NAA Council and was a class ambassador, a class agent, a phonathon volunteer, and a class reunion committee member.  Read more on the life of Carlo A. Gamba.

Eugene J. McCaffrey, Jr., Esq. ’56, who served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the R.I. Senate, and as mayor of Warwick, died on June 23, 2017. Mr. McCaffrey studied English at PC and then served in the Marine Corps, attaining the rank of major. He earned a law degree from Suffolk University and practiced law for more than 50 years. He was elected to the House in 1966, then the Senate. He ran for mayor of Warwick in 1972 and served two terms. Three of his five children attended PC: Michael J. McCaffrey ’89, the R.I. Senate majority leader; John T. McCaffrey ’87; and Eugene J. McCaffrey III ’91.  Read more on the life of Eugene J. McCaffrey, Jr., Esq.

James R. McGuirk, Esq. ’67 & ’72G, a member of PC’s Liberal Arts Honors Program Leadership Council and the Providence President’s Council, died on May 6, 2017. He was the husband of Jane Larson McGuirk, senior office assistant in the College’s Office of the Chaplain/Campus Ministry. Mr. McGuirk, a graduate of Boston College Law School, was a lawyer with Edwards Wildman, formerly Edwards & Angell, LLP, in Providence, for more than 35 years. After graduating from PC with a humanities degree, he was accepted to the U.S. Navy’s Officers Candidate School and was commissioned an ensign. Following military service, he completed a master’s degree in history at PC. He was a lifelong resident of the Elmhurst neighborhood of Providence and a parishioner of St. Pius V Parish, adjacent to the PC campus.  Read more on the life of James R. McGuirk, Esq. 

Benjamin G. O’Meara ’93, who with his wife, Jennifer (MacCallum) O’Meara ’93, was a passionate follower of PC men’s and women’s ice hockey, died on April 30, 2017, after completing a road race. Mr. O’Meara counted among the highlights of his life seeing the Friar men’s hockey team win the NCAA Championship at TD Garden in Boston in 2015. A marathon runner, Mr. O’Meara was a member of the November Project, an international free fitness movement, and worked out regularly with its members. In September, about 40 members of the Class of 1993 ran the Friar 5K in his memory. Mr. O’Meara earned a master’s degree from Emerson College and worked in business operations for Comcast Spotlight.  Read more on the life of Benjamin G. O’Meara.

John T. O’Neill ’66, a former member of the College’s Providence President’s Council and a PC National Alumni Association awards recipient, died on Sept. 19, 2017. An accounting major at PC, he earned a Bronze Star while serving the United States during the Vietnam War. Mr. O’Neill embarked on a public accounting career upon his return from the war, becoming a managing partner at KPMG in Providence and retiring as the CFO of Hasbro, the toy and game company. He served on the President’s Council for eight years and received the NAA’s Personal Achievement Award in 1996.  Read more on the life of John T. O’Neill.

John C. Quinn ’45 & ’85Hon., a founder and editor of USA Today, died on July 11, 2017. Mr. Quinn embarked on a distinguished newspaper career that spanned more than 45 years when he was a student at PC and worked at The Providence Journal. During a 23-year career with The Journal, he advanced from copy boy to managing editor of the evening edition, The Providence Evening Bulletin. He joined Gannett in 1966 and remained with the news organization until retiring in 1990. He became editor of USA Today shortly after it was started in 1982 and served as editor in chief from 1988-1990.  Read more on the life of John C. Quinn.

Charles “Chuck” J. Wielgus, Jr. ’72, who, as the executive director of USA Swimming since 1997, was the longest-serving leader of any United States Olympic organization, died on April 23, 2017, in Colorado Springs, where he made his home. He was credited with helping make swimming the nation’s premier Summer Olympics sport and expanding his organization’s revenue, membership, and fan base. His swimmers brought home a third of the United States’ medals in the last five summer games and 156 medals during his tenure. Mr. Wielgus, who also was the CEO of the USA Swimming Foundation, earned a history degree from PC.  Read more on the life of Charles J. Wielgus, Jr.

John A. Zannini ’83, longtime radio statistician for PC men’s basketball, died on June 26, 2017. Mr. Zannini, who earned a history degree at PC, was a corporate paralegal and statistician for the law firm of Roberts, Carroll, Feldstein & Peirce in Providence. In the 1980s, while working with the scoring crew at Friar games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Mr. Zannini offered to keep statistics at road games for radio host John Rooke and analyst Joe Hassett ’77, traveling at his own expense. A basketball and sports fanatic, he assisted Rooke and Hassett for more than 25 years, earning a nickname as the “Stat Beast.” Eventually, he worked at the BIG EAST Tournament, with the University of Connecticut football team, and at New England Patriots football and New England Revolution soccer games, among other pro sports. He was a member of the men’s basketball team’s Front Court Club and Friends of Friar Hockey booster organizations.  Read more on the life of John A. Zannini.

Bernard G. Colo, who led PC’s Office of Academic Media Services from 2002 until his retirement in spring 2017, died on Sept. 17, 2017. He was 68. Mr. Colo joined the College as coordinator of Academic Media Services, a title which changed to director in 2006. He previously served as director of Academic Media Services at Simmons College, Skidmore College, New England College, and Saint Anselm College. A vocal proponent of “the teachable moment,” he served as a consultant on the use of media technologies to promote the academic learning process.  Read more on the life of Bernard G. Colo. 

Vilma C. Gagnon, who worked in the Office of Academic Media Services for 40 years until her retirement in 2012, died on April 28, 2017. She was 86. When Mrs. Gagnon began working at PC in 1972 the office was known as the Audio-Visual Center, and staff used audio cassette tapes to record Development of Western Civilization lectures. The office’s name changed to Academic Media Services in 1994. By the time she retired, student workers were recording lectures on DVDs for viewing on laptop computers. Mrs. Gagnon and her husband, Ernest E. Gagnon ’61, who died in 2011, were married for 53 years. Among her survivors are a son, Robert J. Gagnon, M.D. ’85, his wife, Patricia Silvia, M.D. ’84, and a granddaughter, Danielle P. Gagnon ’15.  Read more on the life of Vilma C. Gagnon.

Dr. Roger L. Pearson, who taught English at PC, chaired the department, and served as the dean of the School of Continuing Education during a 40-year association with the College, died on May 10, 2017. He was 80. Dr. Pearson earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and joined the PC faculty as an instructor of English in 1963. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1968, associate professor in 1990, and professor in 2001. Dr. Pearson served as SCE dean from 1973-1989. He received the Father Begley Faculty Award in 1977 and the Faculty/Staff Award from the PC National Alumni Association in 1993. His three children are PC graduates: Roger L. Pearson, Jr. ’85, Pamela Winfield Martin ’88, and Martha Pearson Langer ’92.  Read more on the life of Dr. Roger L. Pearson.