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DeBlois, Arthur Joseph Jr.
90, of Brentwood By the Bay, died on June 7 after a brief illness. He was the former husband of the late Eleanor Hyland DeBlois for 58 years, and the husband of Judith Thimm DeBlois for the past 10 years. Arthur was born in North Attleboro, where his father worked in the family grocery store. The day after Arthur was born, his parents, Arthur Sr. and Loretta, purchased a used truck and began “carrying the can” to deliver home heating oil to a limited but rapidly growing list of customers. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Pawtucket and DeBlois Oil was established there. After serving in WW II, Arthur returned and began helping out his father at DeBlois Oil, which was rapidly expanding. While his father was the consummate salesman, Arthur Jr. oversaw the operation and expansion of the company. At DeBlois Oil, he worked alongside brothers Bob and Charlie, and brother-in-law, Joseph Canning. The company was a central part of the family’s lives. Many of the third generation worked for the summer at company jobs, and Arthur Jr. believed that the dirtiest and most difficult jobs should go to his sons.
Arthur attended Catholic Schools all his life, and graduated from Cranwell, a Jesuit prep school in Lenox, MA. When his sons were also attending Cranwell, he chaired the board, and asked his sons to please avoid getting into serious trouble, which happened from time to time.
Arthur and Eleanor were committed to their children, and worked hard to provide them with the support and discipline that four boys required. Arthur and Eleanor had a high tolerance for miscreant behavior by their sons, but there were two things which were bound to merit a serious consequence: talking back to an adult, and being rude.
Despite a demanding schedule at work, Arthur managed to spend valuable time with the family. He and Eleanor built a chalet in Franconia, NH, which became the base for skiing at Mittersill and Cannon Mountain for 20 years. Arthur loved fishing, and with enthusiasm, would wake up his reluctant sons before dawn, based on a belief that the bluefish and striped bass were more catchable at 6 AM than at a leisurely 10:00. Interestingly enough, these fishing trips comprise some of the fondest memories of the family. Arthur’s boat was named the “Nuppy,” a nickname for my mother, who never stepped foot on the boat. Arthur would recall how much Eleanor liked to fish, up until the day they were married.
On several occasions, Arthur dove into the world of maintenance and odd jobs at home, with very questionable results. One time he returned home early after working on a Saturday morning, with a brand new tool box of the kind that DeBlois Oil had purchased for the repair crew. Arthur decided it was time to fix the drippy faucet in the kitchen, and set to work. A short while later the family was jolted by a loud bang and the sound of rushing water. In the kitchen, Arthur was being drenched by a geyser shooting from the sink to the ceiling. In his excitement to fix the faucet, he forgot to turn off the water. Naturally, he never lived this down.
In raising his sons, Arthur made use of a number of aphorisms to define problems or solutions. One of these was, “The more you kick a turd, the more it smells,” Or, after someone did something stupid while trying to avoid work, “life isn’t a big bowl of cherries.”
Arthur was a steadfast Republican, and a close friend and advisor to John Chafee, helping raise money for his campaigns for Governor and Senator. In 1984, Arthur was a member of the Greenhouse Compact, a group of state leaders who were charged with developing an economic strategic plan for RI, based upon the natural strengths inherent in the people and environment of the state.
Arthur believed deeply in the power and value of community and he demonstrated this through his participation with many organizations. He was an active member of the Pawtucket Rotary, and for years the family attended Rotary outings. He was active in St. Theresa’s Parish, and helped raise money for Catholic Charities and the Catholic Foundation. He was a member of the board of Memorial Hospital, and served as chairman. He also served on the boards of The Narragansett Council of the Boy Scouts, and Insight, which he also chaired. On the business side, he served on the boards of AAA and Pawtucket Institution for Savings. He was an active member of the Wannamoisett Country Club.
During the last 10 years of his life Arthur was blessed by the companionship of Judy DeBlois. Together they traveled Europe and the US, and enjoyed their winter home in Florida. Arthur became grandpa to Judy’s grandchildren and enjoyed regular family outings.
Arthur is survived by his wife, Judy, of Warwick, his son Arthur III and wife Paula of Seekonk, MA, his son John and wife Carol of Dedham, MA, his son Rob and wife Bonnie of Seekonk, MA, his son Mark, and wife Christina, of Sherborn, MA, his brother Bob of Warwick, RI. and sister- in- law Claire DeBlois-Murtaugh, of Portsmouth. He is also survived by 13 grandchildren - Todd, Nicole, Sarah, Heather, Matthew, Alex, Stephanie, Justin, Eric, Sherry, Delia, Kathleen, and Mary Elise, 5 great grandchildren - Chloe, Grace, Danica, India, and Grayson, and numerous grand-dogs. Arthur was the brother of the late Claire Canning and Charlie DeBlois.
Visiting hours will be held Tuesday, June 12 from 4 to 7 at the Manning Heffern Funeral Home, 68 Broadway, Pawtucket. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Margaret’s Church, Pawtucket Avenue, Rumford Wednesday, June 13th at 10:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fund for UCAP, 75 Carpenter Street, Providence, RI 02905.
75 Carpenter Street, Providence RI 02905