Robert J. Perrello, 96

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Robert J. Perrello, passed away on Monday, February 6, 2017, at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, Bristol. He was the husband of the late Helen (Buckley) Perrello. Born on June 15, 1920, he was the son of the late James Vincent and Mary (Magnapane) Perrello.

It’s party time in heaven! Robert is reunited with Helen, his beloved wife of 65 years, who “didn’t play fair” and was the first to die. Despite “his Daddy telling him not to grow old,” grow old he did. He lasted eight years after losing Helen, and was 96 when he joined her. This tempers our great loss – he was a ship without a rudder without Mom, and they are finally together again. He is also joining his eldest daughter Jean Marie Engstrume.

Bob joined the Navy at 17, and served both in the Atlantic and the Pacific during World War II, and in Korea. He made the Navy a career, and traveled the world with Helen and the children in tow. His final Navy years were teaching at the Naval War College in Newport. They had a knack of making life and adventure, and collected friends along the way, keeping in touch as family. Their home was always open and welcoming to all. “Put another potato in the pot” and stay as long as needed was their way of life, a perfect mingling of their Italian and Irish heritage. They both taught by example rather than by lectures.

When QMC Perrello retired from the Navy in 1961, he was a trailblazer, attending RIC where he was often mistaken for the instructor, rather than the balding 41-year-old student. He received a BA in Math and Science and taught school at St. Luke’s in Barrington after graduation. He continued his education and received his MA at URI in statistics and educational research and almost completed his doctoral thesis, until he was sidelined by health issues. As he said, “I know I can do it and that’s enough for now”.

Bob was an engineering statistician at the Navy Underwater Systems Center and an educational research specialist for the Navy School Complex. In 1972 he was the administrator of the Catholic Schools of Woonsocket, and in 1974 he was a supervisor of the RI Junior College Computerized Career Information System. His last position was as manager of information development and affirmative action officer for the State of Massachusetts Computerized Occupational Information System.

Bob also volunteered his time, both at the Navy base for retirees and their families and with AARP and the 55 Alive Driving Program. Helen was always by his side as his “administrative assistant.” He served on the Board of Canvasses in Newport for many years.

He leaves three daughters, Kathleen Goncalo of Fall River, Roberta and Stephen Shaw of Little Compton, and Elena Perrello and Gary Eckmann of Eddington, Maine. He also leaves five grandchildren, Erica Goncalo, Justin Shaw, Lauren Nelson, Casey Quaglia and Chelsea Quaglia, and one great granddaughter, Adelee Elena Nelson.

A special thank you to Rosa for her wonderful care of Dad at the Rhode Island Veteran’s Home.

Please do a good deed in Bob’s memory, as he was the original pay if forward before it was so named in the movies. Salute Dad — you will be greatly missed. It is an honor being your daughters.

Calling hours will be Saturday, February 11, from 10:30 to 11 a.m. in Connors Funeral Home, 55 West Main Road, Portsmouth, followed by a service at 11.

Burial will take place in Trinity Cemetery East Main Road, Portsmouth.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Navy Relief Fund, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Attn: Development, 875 N. Randolph St. Ste 225, Arlington, VA 22203.

Additional information at www.memorialfuneralhome.com

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.