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Obituary: Donald W. Tufts, 79

He served on the EG School Committee in the 1970s and one term on the EG Town Council from 2002-04.


Donald W. Tufts, former East Greenwich elected official and an engineering professor emeritus at the University of Rhode Island, died Friday, Aug. 10. He was 79.

Tufts served on the School Committee in the 1970s and on the Town Council from 2002 to 2004. He was married to the late Barbara M. Tufts, who served also served on the Town Council. In addition, Tufts served as moderator to the EG Fire District. At the time of his death, he lived in Warwick.

"It's a great loss," said Janet Joyce, a longtime friend of both Barbara and Don's. Joyce, director of the Barbara M. Tufts Cooperative Preschool, said Donald Tufts was a "gentle soul" who was dedicated to the preschool his wife had established in 1967.

Bob Houghtaling, drug counselor for East Greenwich, said Donald Tufts was a strong supporter of the Teen Center, volunteering on Friday nights for close to 15 years.

Houghtaling and Joyce both recalled Christmas parties at the Tufts house on Carrs Pond Road, where people from all walks of life merged seamlessly.

"Don remained very engaged in current events and enjoyed discussing local and national politics," said Fire Commissioner and House Dist. 30 candidate Mark Schwager. "He wrote several op-ed pieces for the Projo in the past year or two about the social effects of the growing income inequality in the US.... Don always encouraged me to pursue public service, and offered advice and support when I ran for office.... I am saddened by his loss."

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Aug. 25, on Cape Cod.

Renee Pierre August 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Don Tufts was also a long-time member of the Westminster Unitarian Church community. He was active in social justice work and was a strong supporter of the religious education program at Westminster. His kind heart and smiling spirit will be missed. There will be a memorial service at Westminster Unitarian Church in the upcoming weeks. Feel free to check the website at www.westminsteruu.org.
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Thanks so much, Renee, for adding that. I'm sure there's much about Don that my story missed. I invite others to fill in the blanks. Also, please list the memorial on the EG Patch calendar – http://eastgreenwich.patch.com/events
Carolyn Mark August 15, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Don was someone who felt such a sense of urgency to fix what is broken in this world. As a true engineer, he was always looking for the root cause of problems, and came to see income inequality as just that. He was a relentless advocate for economic and social justice, and is a true loss to our state. On a personal note, he was always encouraging me to think about how I could most effectively make a difference in our community. He played a significant role in my decision to run for School Committee. I will miss him greatly.

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