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Elizabeth Frances Gunning

November 18, 2011

Elizabeth Frances Gunning
KINGSTON -Elizabeth Frances Gunning, 59, of Kingstown Road, Kingston, died November 15, 2011 at the Philip Hulitar In-Patient Center in Providence after a four-month illness.
Born in Pawtucket on October 11, 1952, she was the daughter of the late Thomas J. Gunning and the late Frances V. (Dempsey) Gunning. Raised in Pawtucket, she moved to Kingston when she was in the sixth grade, attended St. Francis School, and resided in the greater South Kingstown/Narragansett area for much of her life.
Ms. Gunning was a 1970 graduate of South Kingstown High School and a member of the graduating class of 1974 from the University of Rhode Island. Her graduate course of study in Reading was also at URI.
Along with serving in the role of devoted wife, mother, daughter, and beloved "Auntie" to her nieces, nephew, and great nieces, Ms. Gunning committed much of her professional life to human and educational service. She taught Reading/English to adjudicated youth at Narragansett's Ocean Tides School. Later, she worked as a special needs tutor across multiple disciplines for the Department of Special Education for the Narragansett School System. A particular joy she took in life was working at and facilitating the social events for the residents of the former Ladd School when she worked at the Canteen. Wherever she worked, Ms. Gunning made life-long friends, including at the Rhode Island Book Company where she made her last set of treasured adult friendships. For the last ten years of her life, Ms. Gunning devoted her life to assisting her mother in caring for her ailing father and, then, provided home care assistance for her mother who became seriously ill in the late spring of 2011.
A devotee of the philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, Ms. Gunning, known to almost all as Beth, derived meaning in life by giving to others: her children, relatives, friends, and even acquaintances she felt were in need. Ms. Gunning's recent response to a doctor, who asked what she wanted in terms of her end-of life wishes, sums her up best: "It is not about me. It never has been. In this situation that I face now, it is all about what my children need." She was a devoted mother and an advocate for others, putting her own personal desires on the back burner to ensure that the needs of others, first and foremost, were met.
People loved Beth Gunning. To all whose lives she touched, she will be sorely missed not only for her bottomless reserve of love, listening ear, spiritualism, keen analytical/intellectual skills, but also for her razor sharp wit--- the sharpest of the seven siblings--- no small feat to claim in the Gunning clan.
Beth Gunning was all about her two children, family, and friends, focusing on the simple pleasures of life like sitting with a good hot cup of tea before a roaring fire, days with picnic lunches on the beach with little ones, and enjoying a good brownie.
Ms. Gunning is survived by her son, Luke, of Brooklyn, NY, and her daughter, Alex, of Kingston. She is also survived by her six siblings: Mary Ellen Keiser of Kingston, Thomas M. Gunning of Brewster, MA, Mark B. Gunning of Providence, Michael J. Gunning of Wakefield, Paul M. Gunning of Carolina Village, and Kristen A. Gunning of Kingston, along with her sisters-and brothers-in-law, seven nieces and nephew, two great nieces, many cousins, dear friends, and her uncle, Mr. Raymond M. Gannon of Pawtucket.
Donations may be made in Ms. Gunning's memory to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 200 Niantic Avenue, Providence, RI and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Research Division, 450 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.
Burial at Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, RI on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 1:00 P.M. followed by a 2:00 P.M. memorial service at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, 1 Benevolent St., Providence, RI, directly followed by a reception at the Parish House. CALLING HOURS: Monday, November 21, 2011 from 5:00 till 8:00 P.M at the Manning-Heffern Funeral Home, 68 Broadway, Pawtucket, RI. For online condolences please visit


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