Deacon and Lt. Col. U.S. Army (Ret.) Raymond J. LaFrance of East Greenwich slipped peacefully into God's arms on August 24, four days shy of his 83rd birthday. He was the devoted husband of 55 years of Rose Mary (Muhovich) LaFrance, and the beloved patriarch of his family of five children (and their spouses), Michael J. LaFrance (Andrea), Paul L. LaFrance (Kimberly), Mary A. Rawls (Thomas), Jeannine Hodge (Ed) and Steven R. LaFrance (D. Todd Feeley); 16 grandchildren; and 1 great granddaughter.
He was also a dear friend to his sister Anne LaFrance and goddaughter Bernadette Ferri, and was predeceased by three other siblings, Doris Davis, David LaFrance, and Pearl LaFrance.
Deacon Ray lived his life in service to country, family, community, and God. His 24-year career in the military included service in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and in Europe. He earned numerous decorations including the Legion of Merit, an honor bestowed for his “outstandingly meritorious performance, marked by exemplary leadership, professional competence, tact, astute judgment, and dedication to duty.” Other decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Staff Service Medal 1st class, Aircraft Crewman Badge, Air Crew Member badge, Meritorious Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
As a father, he gave his children laughter, wisdom, and discipline – a recipe for deeply fulfilled lives with an abundance of relationships with family, friends, and God.
To his wife, he poetically wrote: “I pray that nothing could this love change/Hard stressing, nor attraction strange/To this I say, my dear Rose Mary/Though weak and human, prove to tarry/I'll love you with a fire from the depths/ And so continue to my last breath.”
His siblings and goddaughter, as with all who were fortunate to know him, cherished his friendship, sense of humor, integrity, compassion, faith, and devotion.
He was a teacher to many, from aspiring real estate professionals working at DeFelice to students at Bishop Keough High School. Ordained in 1994 as a deacon in the Catholic Church, he was a mentor and minister to youth in juvenile detention and adults in the Adult Correctional Institutions, in addition to providing deeply heartfelt and sincere funeral and memorial services, particularly for veterans of American wars.
In his spare time, over the years, he enjoyed a wide range of hobbies including photography, woodworking, boating, DJ'ing, operating HAM radios, and riding his motorcycle. He was a true Renaissance man and servant of the Lord, profoundly generous of time and treasure, and will be deeply missed by all who had the honor to know him. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, September 4th at 10:00am at St. Francis de Sales Church, School St., North Kingstown. Burial with military honors will be in R.I. Veterans Cemetery, Exeter. Calling hours are Tuesday, Sept. 3, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Hill Funeral Home, 822 Main St., East Greenwich. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.