Donald B. Babbitt

Date of Passing:

September 23, 2019

Babbitt, Donald Burt, 82, formerly of Riverside Terrace, Riverside, passed away peacefully on September 23, 2019 at Roger Williams Hospital in Providence, RI.
He was born on May 12, 1937, in Riverside RI. Son of Roy E. Babbitt, Sr. and Veronica Marcoux Babbitt. He is survived by his siblings, Roy E. Babbitt, Jr of Riverside, RI and Norma Babbitt Kraft of Pahrump, NV. ; nephews, Edward (Susan) Babbitt of VT, Michael Babbitt of NY, Randall (Deanna) Kraft of WA and David Kraft of FL.; several dear cousins, as well as a host of young people that he has touched with his generosity and mentorship over the years.

Don graduated from East Providence HS in 1955 and went on to Rhode Island College of Education, where he earned his Education degree in 1959. He began teaching Mathematics at Cranston High School West, then transferred to Cranston High School East where he created an award winning Theatre program. He developed many different classes covering all aspects of theatre production and produced many plays that won state and regional competitions. He prided himself on the diversity of students he was able to introduce to the theatre arts and the number of those students who went on to have careers of their own in the many different aspects of theatre production. He retired from the Cranston School Department in 1990. After his retirement, he taught part-time in the Theatre Department at Salve Regina University and volunteered at several inner-city schools as a tutor/mentor.

Don received many awards and accolades throughout his career, but to him his greatest achievements were the young men he mentored over the years. He watched them grow into thriving, productive adults, many of whom became lifelong friends. He also hosted exchange students from France, Spain, China and Japan.

Don travelled extensively – to all 50 US States and five of the seven continents. He was still planning his trip to the last two – Australia and the Antarctica!

A private funeral service will be held for immediate family in the W. RAYMOND WATSON FUNERAL HOME, 350 Willett Avenue, Riverside. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery, Pleasant Street, Pawtucket. Calling hours and flowers are respectfully omitted. A Memorial service (which Don, the ever persistent director) has planned to the last detail, will be held at a time and place to be announced. Contribution’s in Don’s memory to a charity of your choice would be deeply appreciated.

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52 Comments

  1. Perhaps a year later, I read of Mr. Babbitt’s passing.
    No, I didn’t go on to be a star or in the field of theater, but what Mr. Babbitt gave me was a lifetime gift of knowing myself.
    He did this by engaging me and challenging me to go beyond my comfort zone and being more than I ever thought I could be.
    He not only brought me into productions, as behind the scenes, or on stage in a minor role, or just to Broadway or England, he gave me a world of possibilities.
    I just want to say thank you to Mr. Babbitt for helping me explore the universe.
    I have done things and gone places I never woukd have without him.
    Knowing him, Mr. Babbitt is in heaven engaging everyone in theater!

  2. When I was attending Rhode Island College, I rented a room in the 59 House as Don called his home and felt like I was in a 1960s college movie. Flowers and plants graced walkways and yard. Christmas was special, tasteful decorations; even music. My college experience was greatly enhanced. Thanks Don!

  3. Only just heard the news. There really are no words to describe Don and the impact he had on my life from the time I didn’t get cast in the Wizard of Oz in 8th grade in 1966 to the last time I saw him, sadly a few years ago. So many extraordinary memories to sift through. I hope his memorial service will be well publicized; I know it will be Standing Room Only.

  4. Donald Babbitt was a gifted teacher and mentor to hundreds of high school students in whom he saw creative potential and helped them realize that they could, with hard work, fulfill dreams they often had not thought possible. Who but Donald could lure half of the football team to become bearers in loin cloths, of the King in the King and I in one of his remarkable senior musicals? Some of them enjoyed the experience so much that they entered the world of acting and dance. Many of Donald’s students have made careers in the world of theatre…acting, singing, costume creation, set design, etc., etc. in many parts of the country. Some became noted theatre teachers in secondary schools and colleges, inspired by their experience of working with him.

    To Donald, the impossible was always achievable if one persisted. This is how he lived his life and why he was so special to so many. One can envision him in heaven redesigning the set and getting the angels and the heavenly choir spreading their beautiful costumed wings and singing and dancing to all those Broadway hits that he loved.

    Good bye Donald. God Bless.
    Ed and Maria Rondeau

  5. Don was a kind and important colleague, as we worked together on committees of the New England Theater Conference, what is now the Center for Dynamic Learning and various other drama festival and planning committees. He was always specific and straightforward in his presentation of his ideas, and he always made sure that any program or proposal somehow would be of educational value for students. May those teachers who follow in Don’s footsteps remember his emphasis on that which will benefit students the most and be most educational for them. Thank you, Don, for setting a good example for the rest of us.

  6. RIP Mr. Babbitt.
    Geoffrey Leach aka Artful Dodger, Oliver Dec 1968

  7. Roy, Mike and Ed – so sorry to hear about Uncle Donald’s passing – my thoughts are with you and your families.

  8. I was very saddened to hear of the loss of Don Babbitt just yesterday. He had to be one of the most influential individuals in my life especially as a teenager in Junior and senior high. He gave me, along with many others a taste of what the theater arts were all about. I thank him for the opportunity he gave me in several plays while at Cranston West High School. Most notably was the production of Lil Abner. I was scared to death to do the lead in this play and yet he gave me the confidence to “see it through.” That I did, and will never forget the results. I never had him as a math teacher, but if his skills at theater were any indication, I am sure he was good at that as well. God Bless him and his entire family at this sad time in their lives. RIP Don, a good and faithful servant you were.

  9. How lucky we Cranston students were! Mr. Babbitt’s heart and skills made our high school experience much richer than most.
    His legacy of actors, theater production pros and engaged audience members is immense.

  10. If the Golden Apple Award existed in the 1960s Mr Babbitt would surly have had it presented to him at Cranston West. Starting w/ the Wizard of Oz and an all Jr. High cast, he brought out the best in his cast members and the rest of the production staff.
    Sincere condolences to his family.

  11. It was my lucky day when I walked into Introduction to Theatre taught by Don Babbitt. He nurtured creativity and instilled a deep love for the craft. I reference him in my book and credit him with launching my career. He touched many lives in a positive way. RIP

  12. Lucky to have been his student. His class was pivotal to many of us! He was our Yoda. Giant cosmic hugs to a wonderful soul.

  13. My lucky day was the day that I walked into the Introduction to Theatre class taught by Don Babbitt. He nurtured creativity and instilled discipline and respect for the craft. We remained friends over the years and I reference him in my book. He was a positive influence on many lives, including my own. RIP

  14. Mr Babbitt,
    You sparked in me a love and appreciation of theatre that not only influenced my choice of careers, but who I am as a person. Your ability to bring people from diverse backgrounds together was always awe inspiring. Your dedication to your work and students was unparalleled. Thank you for creating friendships and memories that will last forever. You will be sorely missed but surely not forgotten.

  15. Mr. Babbitt was such a dedicated mentor and inspired so many students at Cranston East. May he rest in peace. My sympathies to his family and friends.

  16. So sad to read of Mr. Babbitt’s passing – another bit of Cranston East history is gone. Sounds like he enjoyed ‘retirement’ and seeing the world. A great great teacher and person to be around.

  17. My first scenic Designs were for Don ( Diary of Ann Frank, You’re a good Man Charlie Brown..etc). He cultivated my life long love for backstage. A life altering moment was when he gave my introduction speech at the Cranston Kiwanis Club (1973) when this then graduating senior received the Sidney J Hoffman Memorial Creative Achievement Award. It was touching and moving to this young soul, and his encouragement has stayed with me all these years. Thank you Don.

  18. Don was a great theater teacher and mentor.He was the most creative colleague during our time at Cranston East H.S. My wife and I never missed one of his productions. Our favorite was ” Man of La Mancha ” with ” the King and I” a close second. We will miss him, as he is an unforgettable person. Rest in peace, Don.

  19. mary mojkowski gobis
    you were the drive for our graduating class at chsw 1969 putting on south pacific as our senior class play. you worked endlessly to make sure we put on a wonderful production and you did. every Saturday you were there to make sure the props were just so.each student that had the honor of having you as a teacher should be grateful for your all your inspiration guidance and a friend. thank you so very much,
    mary

  20. Dear Mr. Babbitt, thank you for all that you did to inspire us, the students at CHSE. Rest In Peace

  21. Thank you for being such an outstanding practicum teacher & mentor before I started full student teaching… went on to pursue theater education to this day. Always in thoughts…

  22. I will forever be grateful for Mr. Babbit and his passion for theater and the arts. He helped to inspire my love for theater, and I will carry fond memories of his classes and being a part of his productions.

  23. I will be forever indebted to Mr Babbitt for sparking my life-long love of live theatre. He understood that not all were destined to be on the stage, and simply asked that we be open to the wonders of the experience itself. He was one of a kind and beloved.

  24. This summer a bunch of CHSE class of 86 & 87 folks were wondering about Mr. Babbitt and reminiscing about our theatre days with him. He worked us hard, made us laugh and cry, shouted at us and loved us. I loved my theatre time. Mr. Babbitt was such a big, important part of my high school days. Ever grateful and mourning his fins bow.

  25. “Mr. Babbitt” was a beloved teacher to the CHSW Class of 1964, and attended many of our Class Reunions. I was fortunate to be introduced to theater thru him, and the wonderful experiences he graced my life with, are a part of me forever. RIP dear man.

  26. Taught with Don for a few years at CHSW and always appreciated his wit and humor – especially in the teachers’ lounge. Good job, well done, Don.

  27. Mr Babbitt was the best Theatre Teacher I ever had. He was there to help the actor out of a student! He had a eye for making the story come to life! I will never forget my teacher!

  28. Mr. Babbitt had a profound effect on me. Instilling self confidence and creativity, I will forever have fond memories of him and my classmates at CHSE. Thank you, Mr. Babbitt.

  29. Thank you Mr. Babbitt. He Truly was an extraordinary teacher. Thank you.

  30. My hero and my inspiration for the entrepreneur I have become. Thanks. Mr. B

  31. Mr. Babbitt was part of Just As We Are Players in Cranston. The program involved students from CHW and CHE. It was a great opportunity to have some many of us Meld together into one big cohesive group. Mr. B taught theater my senior yr at CHE. He was always kind and encouraging to All of us. I have continued to love theater and acting for the past 50 yrs.
    Time for your final curtain Mr. B.

  32. A wonderful and talented man. A highly dedicated teacher. His high school productions were professional and induced laughter and tears. Don was an extraordinary teacher who touched thousands of young souls for the good. We will never forget him.

  33. The Class of 1959 has lost our Class President and our inspiration. Don cared deeply for Rhode Island College and especially for its first generation students. He was a mentor, world traveler, artist and, most importantly, a caring friend. He will be missed.

  34. God bless you Donald for your never ending love of being the consummate educator. Don had that special gift that is the trademark of all special teachers, to be able to reach out and mentor young minds and help them develop and grow as productive, caring adults. You have reach a certain level of immortality in the memories of your former students.

  35. Thanks for the memories. Rest in peace.

  36. I’ll always remember him and hospitality. My wife and I stayed at his home for a weekend and he took us on a tour of the Providence area. Donald loved to talk to me about Broadway shows. We will always remember him and his fine work he did in the Rhode Island Area schools. God Bless.

  37. Godspeed Don. You and I are part of the few who remember the pleasure of growing up on Forbes Street in the 1940s and 50s. Thank you for being one of the leaders of our church youth group when we were teens. Your accomplishments are many and I am proud to have known you.
    My sympathy to you Roy and Norma and your families.

  38. Mr. Babbitt was responsible for my theatrical debut and was on hand for my farewell performance. For your support, I am eternally grateful, sir.

  39. I never had Don as a teacher. However, his work as a director charted the course of my professional life. When I was 7, my family went to see a production of Auntie Mame that Don had directed at Cranston West. When the lights came up on the stage, I was mesmerized. I was hooked. I have been in the business of show for 45 years and it all began with his production of Auntie Mame.

  40. Don was a wonderful man and a born leader. He was always caring, kind and considerate to everyone. It was my distinct pleasure to be a college classmate and friend of Don. Don’s home was always open to all and his lifelong dedication to RIC was impressive. RIP my friend.

  41. He was my first introduction to theatre and an inspiration to many. His legacy will live on through those he taught.

  42. When Don transferred to CHSE his reputation had preceded him. A man of unending ideas, creativity and energy, whenever you saw him you knew the wheels were spinning about some project or other. It was always amazing, but quite understandable, to hear of all the former students that remained in contact with Mr. Babbitt. even decades later He never met a student he did not want to help. I was fortunate to not only work with him but, more importantly, call him my friend. He will certainly be missed.

  43. He was a great teacher. He will be missed.

  44. Went to school with his nephews, Ed & Mike- deepest condolences to the entire family.

  45. Was there a more creative, involved teacher at East when Don was there? I don’t think there was. As the obituary notes, his ability to involve a wide range of students was particularly impressive.

  46. Don. Thanks for being a part of my life. You were a great mentor that influenced my life in countless ways. I will remember you always.
    All my love.
    Stephan Reale

  47. Thank you Don for me and countless people the opportunity to explore and discover themselves through the theater arts. You will remain an important part of my life.

  48. Played a big part in my life! I will miss him for sure!

  49. He had such a warm and caring heart. Always looked to lend a helping hand.

  50. My deepest condolences and prayers are with you at this time. Mr. Babbitt is in my heart and mind each day as I strive to pass on his legacy as the theater teacher and drama director at Cranston HS West. I am thankful to have the gift of Donald B. Babbitt in my life.

  51. A great dude!

  52. Don was one of those unique teachers that you only meet once in a lifetime. His devotion to his students was without bounds. Glad to have had him as a teacher, a friend, a mentor,..and oh yes,….as my Director in all of those plays. He guided many of us through rather turbulent times during the 60’s and 70’s. As this curtain falls,…..he will be missed, but, never forgotten.

    Thanks for everything Don. It was one heck of a show!!

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