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Death of Ron Stabile Saddens Many

The Cole music teaching legend will be remembered for his ability to make every student feel like a musician ... and for his love of the Yankees.


There are teachers and there are teachers. Ronald N. Stabile was a teacher. Mr. Stabile, as his students will always remember him, died Wednesday from cancer.

“Ron was the most inspirational teacher that I have ever known,” wrote Brandon Levesque, who succeeded him at Cole. “As Cole Middle School's band and orchestra director for over 20 years, Ron touched so many lives, not just in East Greenwich, but also at the University of Rhode Island with his former percussion students and those that were lucky enough to have student taught with him.”

Cole Principal Alexis Meyer was a teacher at Cole during the Stabile era, which ended in 2006 when he retired.

“Ron's influence has and will continue to influence generations of East Greenwich families. He set the example for many of us at Cole on how to teach, inspire, and enjoy the kids. We all learned along with the kids from him. He certainly touched my life as well as so many others."

Former EG science teacher and department chair Peter McLaren wrote, “If you were a student, parent of a student, or faculty member at Cole Junior High/Middle School during Ron's tenure you knew Ron as an educator who cared for ALL kids. He loved his profession but he loved his students more so as they WERE his profession.…  He left us all better people because of him.”

Esther Kalajian got to know Stabile through her son Charles, now a professional musician himself.

“He just made it so everyone felt, ‘I can do this and I love it,’” she said. “Everyone felt that they were just the best. It wasn’t just the kids who were already wired for music.”

Former students near and far began weighing in as they heard the news.

“I took private drum lessons at his house in Cranston for [a] couple years until I reached Cole and picked up in band where we left off,” wrote Jay Moon via email. “I still use and I've started to teach my kids the techniques he taught me in those basement lessons almost 25 years ago. Great guy, he'll be missed.”

“He was a great teacher,” wrote Tabetha Elaine Fitzpatrick on Facebook.

“Mr. Stabile made me love band,” wrote Catherine McNamara. “He had an almost mystical ability to get a huge group of preteens with some very large and loud instruments to be respectful and pay attention, simply by making us feel like we were part of something bigger than ourselves, part of something truly special.... Mr. Stabile showed me how I could be truly important by being a part of something larger, the incomparable magic of creating music. Mr. Stabile introduced me to the simple brilliance of being one sound of many, being a part of the band, and for that I will be always grateful.”

For some students, Stabile pointed the way toward a career in music. Among his former students are two who teach music in East Greenwich schools now — Brendan Carniaux at East Greenwich High School and Megan Winters Catelli at Cole Middle School.

"Ron was one of the early musical influences of my life, who helped me to pursue a career in music and music education," said Carniaux. "He was a true inspiration to thousands of music students who went through Cole Jr. High." 

Another Cole alum, Charles Kalajian, found in Stabile both a mentor and a friend.

“I want to be like Ron Stabile,” said Kalajian. “He knew how to connect with people and he knew how to drive people. He treated people with respect and made people feel like musicians.”

Kalajian's feelings were shared. "Ron was an exceptionally talented percussionist and well known throughout the state of Rhode Island as an outstanding educator. But most importantly, he was an incredibly compassionate human being and someone that we all wanted to emulate," said Brandon Levesque. After his retirement from Cole, Stabile continued to teach percussion at URI, something he started doing in 1987, as well as advising student teachers.

He will be remembered for things other than music, including a love of the New York Yankees that drove many of his students crazy, and his jokes.

"I’m going to miss his jokes," said Charles Kalajian. "He was the only person that could make them. They were so bad but he made them so good."

"I will miss not being able to hear his laugh, his corny jokes or simply being able to go to him for advice as I have done so often in the past," wrote Levesque.

Ultimately, there was just something about the man. In the words of EG drug counselor Bob Houghtaling, “He made music cool."

Ronald N. Stabile, 58, is survived by his wife Caroline M. “Carrie” Curtis. Born in Providence, he was the son of Irma A. (Tella) Olszewski and stepson of Carl R. Olszewski of Vero Beach, Florida. Ronald was a professor of music education at U.R.I., a longtime music teacher at Cole Middle School and professional musician. He was a devoted New York Yankee fan. Besides his wife and parents, Ron is survived by his sister Elaine P. Fantozzi and brother David M. Olszewski, both of Florida, and sisters in law Ellen Griffing, Kathy Campbell and Teresa Lazar.

Relatives and friend are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday at 10 a.m. in St. Mark’s Church, 15 Garden Court, Cranston and may call at the Nardolillo Funeral Home & Crematory, 1278 Park Ave., Cranston on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. 

Chuck Barton March 22, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Joie de vivre. Ron was always so happy and full of life. My two sons played baseball at Cole and Mr. Stabile assisted Bob Crosby with the team. His Cole concerts were always fun - both because the musical abilities of the students were clearly developing but also because Mr. Stabile would don some crazy costume and go charging around the auditorium. The article captures what a wonderful teacher and human being Ron was. What a loss.
Bill Daly March 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Two of my children played in the band in the band at Cole Jr High with Ron Stabile. They always spoke of Mr. Stabile as an inspirational and fun loving teacher who encouraged his students to do their best. He was truly an exemplary teacher and will be greatly missed.
David Osowa March 22, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Mr. Stabile was a compassionate man who, first and foremost, inspired his students to treat one another with respect. He was, at times, a sounding board, a teacher, a friend, a mentor, and a role model. His loss will be felt by generations of children (now grown adults) across the EG public school and URI learning communities.
Trish Palleschi March 22, 2012 at 01:36 PM
What a nice man and fantastic teacher. Ally loves classical music and her violin, Mr. Stabile was a great influence on her. Our prayers go to his wife and family
Christin Markarian March 22, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Christin Markarian Mr. Stabile was one of a kind. I had him in Cole for music when I played the clarinet. Not only, was he a fantastic musician, but he taught me much more about life. He was a wonderful mentor and great teacher! He will be missed but never forgotten!
Geralyn Hashway March 22, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I began playing the flute in the 5th grade, and it wasn't until 7th grade when I had Mr. Stabile that I truly found my passion for playing the instrument. Mr. Stabile gave me my first soloist opportunity in the song Let Evening Come. It is one of my fondest memories of growing up, and one of my fondest band memories. I will never forget that moment or Mr. Stabile, and the lessons he taught, the jokes he told, nor the inspiration he provided to myself and the many others he touched. Thank you for that! Your memory will play on in all of our hearts.
Dani Del Gizzo March 22, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Growing up I was never the best flute player. However, Mr. Stabile always embraced my hyperactive nature and encouraged me to continue playing the flute, and just enjoy the music. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have continued being a band member all through high school. Through his heartfelt personality and magical teaching tactics he always knew how to make each and every one of his students feel special. I feel blessed to have been one of his students and I know he is smiling down over all of us right now. You will be missed Mr. Stabile. Dani Del Gizzo
Edward G. Stopa, M.D. March 22, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Mr. Stabile sparked a passion for music in all of the students he mentored. He had the ability to make each of them feel "special". His gift for helping parents appreciate their role as education partners was also unique.
Nancy Thomas March 22, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Mr Stabile found beauty and talent in my daughter at an age where she was just beginning to find herself. Thanks Ron!!! She texted me to tell me you had passed. Even after all these years you were still important to her.
John Slotman March 22, 2012 at 04:30 PM
It's been over 20 years since I was a student of Mr. Stabile, but the year I spent in band at Cole is still a great memory of mine. My family moved away from EG after 7th grade, and as no band teacher could stack up to Mr. Stabile's charisma and zest for music, I was done actively playing the trombone within a year. He was an inspiring teacher, and I am very saddened to hear of his passing. My condolences to his loved ones.
Kate Robinson March 22, 2012 at 04:41 PM
What a brilliant teacher, he made us feel deserving and talented. I rememeber winning the huge "symphony" bar...what a cool man. My heart goes out to his family.
jim cummings March 22, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Ron Stabile was what every teacher should strive to be in their careers. He impacted the lives of hundreds if not thousands of young men and women in their pre-teen and early teen years in a way like no other. And he did so in an inclusive manner that was fun for all of his students. He was more than a teacher - he was a mentor, a friend, a confidante, and someone that was able to bring out the best in the musical abilities of junior high students. I would sit at the school concerts, close my eyes and just listen to the music that was created under his direction and to this day couldn't believe that they were only in junior high and sounded THAT good. I had the pleasure of chaperoning some of the high school band trips with Ron and he was just as personable and outgoing with the adults and parents as he was with the students. His impact on the many students that passed under his tutelage and guidance will be felt for many, many years and his legacy will live on for years in his former students. He was missed when he left the EG school,system and he will be missed even more in his passing. My condolences to the Stabile family in your loss.
Dan Cummings March 22, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I had many great teachers going through East Greenwich Public Schools, but Mr. Stabile is one of the few who went above and beyond being simply an educator. His love for teaching and his love for music was infectious, and felt I could trust him with anything, be it school related or otherwise. His teaching was purely about the love of music and the love of teaching young men and women - even after moving on to high school, some of my fondest music memories were attending his summer music camps and playing with younger students. Not only did he travel to Cole to work with students on his own time, he was able to get dozens of 10-18 year olds to show up for an optional practice at school at 8AM every day for a couple weeks of their summer vacation. That's how respected and beloved he was by his students. I feel Mr. Stabile shaped me not only as a musician, but as a person. I feel I not only lost a mentor and teacher, but one of the first adults I knew as a child that I considered a friend. My heart goes out to the Stabile and Olszewski families. His passion and kind spirit will live on in all his former students, myself included.
Michael C. Kregler March 22, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I only got to play with Ron a handful of times over the course of several years, and I saw him on only several other occasions, but I cherished every moment. He was so personable, so sincere. He always wanted to talk Yankees baseball with me because I revealed to him I was a Yankee fan, even though I tried to hide it from others! It's a big loss for the Rhode Island musical community. Reading all of these heartfelt responses doesn't surprise me at all. We were blessed to have Ron here with us for the truncated, seemingly, period for which we did. God bless, Ron.
Jan and Sam Hopp March 22, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Jan & Sam Hopp The quality of Ron's music instruction inspired our son to develop into a first class trumpet player at the New England Conservatory of Music, Senior Youth program while at EGHS, and continuing on to Oberlin Conservatory of Music. It is definitely the foundation that was laid out by Ron during those early years that helped him aspire to such a level. One of my fond memories of Ron was when the Cole Jr. High Band was invited to play at Faneuil Hall, Boston. The band was playing the Overture to Superman. To our great surprise, Ron popped out of a cardboard phone booth in his Superman uniform to conduct as the band began to play. The audience went wild with enthusiasm and the band members thought it was simply fantastic. Ron made playing music so much fun and was able to create the best in the student musicians. We have never forgotten him and we are saddened to hear of his passing, and of the loss of such an inspirational person. You will always remain in our hearts, Ron!
La Dolce Vita March 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM
It is such sad news to hear of Ron's passing. Beyond an educator and musician, Ron was one of the handful, including Ridy DiPippo and John Plummer, that our sons were fortunate to have at Cole that truely cared about a youngster, and their whole development during the adolecent years. Kids LOVED having detention with Mr. Stabile !! During his summer music program, he would take a younster aside, and work with them, knowing that this would make them part of something where they could possibly flourish, and forget about the acne, the bullying and junior high nonsense. To sum it up in his words, "It's my job to get them through puberty." Everyone that passed his way, youngster or adult, musician or otherwise, was better for it.
Mary MacIntosh March 23, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I was very sad to hear the news about Mr. Stabile this morning. He was a wonderful person and teacher. My son spent just about every lunch at Cole in in his tiny office (aka the bandroom) -- hanging out and helping out. Mr. Stabile was a special person and we will remember him very fondly. Our sympathies go out to his family.
Elaine May 10, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Ron was my brother. He was as kind and loving in his personal life, as well as in his teachings with all his students. He loved family, life and giving of himself to others. He is sadly missed by all who knew him. I feel my heart will ache forever. Thanks to all for the kind comments, thoughts and prayers for Ron and our family. Elaine
Amy T. Loomis July 06, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Amy Ron was my nephew...but like a son, I should say. Being a teacher myself, I was very happy and proud when he informed me that he wanted to teach. I knew he would be the best teacher, mentor and all the good things a teacher should be. He was that kind of person. We would have to be at school around the same time each morning; however on some mornings, I would make a call to his phone in the band room and wish him luck and success on those days. When he answered the phone, he would tell me to hold on. Then he would hold up the phone and ask the students to say, "Good morning, Aunty Amy." That gave me a good feeling and it started off my work day on a very good--if you'll pardon the pun--"note." Ron and my husband were buddies and liked working together on all kinds of projects. The 3 of us owned a piece of property together, and we would work very hard to get it in shape. He never refused to do whatever was needed of him. He helped to rebuild a boat that we owned! There was nothing he wouldn't try to do. He was an amazing person; I can't yet believe that he is no longer with us. I could go on and on with tributes to him, but there isn't enough space here. Maybe I'll write a book. In the meantime, rest well, Ron. Your job here on earth is done--and then some! You are missed, still loved and respected as a teacher, as a person of many talents and last but not least, as a wonderful human being.
Amy T. Loomis July 06, 2012 at 07:55 PM
This comment doesn't even come close to describing Ronald N. Stabile; but it will have to do for now.
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) July 06, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Thanks for sharing, Amy. He was a wonderful guy but his spirit does live on in all all of his students ... including two of my children!
Mr. & Mrs. Felix J. Guiffra, Jr. July 17, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Ellie & Felix Guiffra We were so shocked & very sad to just read about Ron's passing in the URI Quadangles. He was a positive influence on our son's musical career at URI. From the day our son, Felix III, auditioned for Ron during his senior year of high school, they made an instant connection & the rest was history. Felix had great love and admiration for this man, as did we. We were very comfortable leaving our freshman at URI knowing that he had Ron to call on if he needed anything. He took a great deal of interest in Felix & made him realize that he possessed a special talent. Ron & his wife opened their home to our son & other students. Never had we met an educator like this man who could bring out the best in these young people. The last time we saw Ron was at the Providence College graduation exercises of our nephew a few years ago where he was playing and directing the orchestra. We went up to him & he remembered us & wanated an update on our son, who had graduated from URI in 2004. Thanks to Ron's positive influence, Felix had landed a job with the U.S. Army's First Armored Division Band in El Paso, TX. Ron was thrilled to hear the news. Felix was recently promoted to Sargeant. We will always remember this beautiful, talented & caring human being & will be forever grateful for the positive influence he had over our son's life. Our condolences to his family.Although he will be greatly missed, he left a permanent mark in the hearts of all those who ever knew him!
Brian Chalfin October 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I was at Archie Cole breifly and there was only one teachers name I remember, Ron Stabile. I have a lot of fond memories in his class, but certainly the best was the trip to Boston to play at Quincy Market. After playing outside for the crowd, he introduced us to a music icon, his friend, John Williams. Mr. Williams came to see us play and then handed us tickets to see him conduct the Boston Pops later that night. I still remember it well. My condolences to his family, and all that had the chance to get to know him. Rest in peace.

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