PAWTUCKET — A “ready smile,” “meticulous,” “conscientious,” “a true gentleman,” were all descriptions of the late Ronald J. Gauthier that were offered by city officials this past week. Gauthier, 71, who served as city sergeant, died on Nov. 4 after a brief illness.
Gauthier, a lifelong Pawtucket resident, had been appointed in 2007 by the City Council, headed by then-Council President Mary Bray, to serve as city sergeant. He continued to serve through the successive City Councils presided over by Henry S. Kinch, Jr. and current President David Moran.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the City Council adjourned in Gauthier's memory, and his seat and nameplate in council chambers at City Hall have been draped with a shroud. As city sergeant, a two-year appointment by the City Council, Gauthier handled duties involving the delivering of the docket and other documents to City Council members, and he did similar work for the city registrar and Board of Canvassers during elections and as needed.
City Clerk Richard Goldstein, whose desk was adjacent to Gauthier's at the council meetings, said that when he came back from attending Gauthier's wake on Wednesday for that night's council meeting, he was immediately struck by how much he missed him.
“He was a great guy to work with. Always smiling,” said Goldstein. “Ron would always come in with jokes or some quip aimed at me that was supposedly from Ken McGill. He loved to instigate things,” recalled Goldstein. “But he was also very caring...always asking about your own life and family. And you won't find anybody more conscientious than Ron. If anyone on the council needed something delivered, he was always there,” he said.
Mayor Donald Grebien issued a statement saying, “With the much too sudden passing of Ron Gauthier, the city of Pawtucket has lost a dedicated city sergeant but much more importantly, someone who contributed so much to our community. Ron was a leader in his church, for the companies he worked for and on the playing fields of our city. He had the temperament not only to be an umpire for many years, but to be chosen by his fellow umpires to oversee them.”
Grebien continued, “He was a man of quiet dignity and respectfulness who treated everyone he met that way, and was treated in kind in return. He was outstanding not only in the many duties he performed so efficiently for the city, but the ready and cheerful way he went about them. Our hearts go out in deepest sympathy to his beloved wife, Elaine, their daughter, Stephanie, in memory of their son, Christopher, who is now rejoined with his father, and to all the members of the Gauthier family.”
Gauthier lived on Wilton Avenue, where he was a neighbor of both Councilor Thomas Hodge and former Councilor Henry S. Kinch, Jr. Both men remembered him fondly.
“He was a great fellow who would do anything for anybody,” said Hodge. “We called Ron 'the mayor of Wilton Avenue' because of the block parties he would organize and things like that. If you knew him and he touched your life, you were much better off for it.”
Kinch called Gauthier “a top guy. Loyal as the day is long to his community and his family. And he loved the city as much as anybody that I know of. He was Pawtucket through and through.”
Kinch noted that Gauthier was devastated when his son, Christopher, died after a lengthy battle with cancer, but also that he had “never seen him so moved” as when Christopher was entered into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame.
Councilor Larry Tetreault said he knew Gauthier, who grew up in the Pleasant View neighborhood, for decades. Back in the 1960s, Tetreault recalled that Gauthier worked as a DJ at a local radio station under the name of Ron Richards, and he remembered hearing him “spin the old rock and roll hits.”
Tetreault noted that Gauthier had been very active in his church, as well as the local community, where he long served as an umpire for men's and women's softball leagues. He retired from Robbins Manufacturing Co. in Fall River and also worked at Bellows Funeral Chapel in addition to his duties with the city. “He was meticulous about everything he did. Very 'old school.'” said Tetreault.
City Council President David Moran called Gauthier “a true friend...just a true person who made everybody smile. I looked forward to receiving my (council) dockets from him. He will be sorely missed.”
Councilor John Barry called Gauthier, “a true gentleman at all times and diligent in performing his duties as city sergeant. We all looked forward to seeing him when he dropped off the dockets.”
Barry added that Gauthier's funeral, held on the snowy Thursday morning at St. Mary's Antiochan Orthodox Church, was “mobbed. That was a testament to how well thought of he was.”