Ronald R. M. St. Onge

Date of Passing:

July 6, 2021

Ronald R. M. St. Onge, 87, of Douglas Pike, Smithfield, died peacefully on July 6, 2021 at the Golden Crest Nursing Home, North Providence.

Ron was born to J.R. Edwards St. Onge and Eva (Cabral) St. Onge in 1933. He was the elder brother of the late Edward (Teddy), Jeanne Mae (McNulty/Carter) and Kenneth St. Onge.

He grew up in Riverside and graduated with honors in 1951 from East Providence High School. That fall he entered RICE now Rhode Island College. As a freshman he was initiated into the men’s educational fraternity Phi Delta Kappa. Ron studied languages and social studies. He participated in chorus, operetta, was the interim director of the opera class and in his senior year he was business manager of the yearbook.

In his junior year he was initiated into Kapa Delta Pi, the national honor society in education.

The next fall he graduated 3rd in his class and went on scholarship to Clark University in Worcester for his Master’s degree. Upon returning to Rhode Island he taught briefly at the college.

During his 20s and 30s he was studying opera for tenor voice with Glory Perethian of Pawtucket and Herta Sperberoh New York City. When she first heard him in her studio she told him he would be singing in the opera within 2 years.

Through her connections with the Metropolitan she arranged an audition with two members of the opera company which took place in Providence. He was accompanied on piano by his friend professor Cal Tillotson. Ron sang 2 challenging selections, the 1st Aria in the Barber of Seville and the 1st Aria in Cavalleria Rusticana. The Met offered him a position in the young artist studio for further training, but considering the unstable future of young artists, he chose to stay in education.

In the Town of Smithfield, then Superintendent Laperch offered him a position at what was then Smithfield Memorial Junior High School. The position consisted of teaching one year of 8th grade English and 7 years of 9th grade French, Latin and Ancient History.

When the new Smithfield High School opened Ron was the first teacher assigned there. He was made chairman of the foreign language department, a position he held for 24 years. During this time he was strengthening his background with Spanish courses at Salve Regina University and URI, French and Italian, also at URI, and at Columbia University he studied French, also Latin at Providence College.

In addition to speaking Spanish and French, he also spoke some Italian and Portuguese and had a travelers knowledge of German learned from an Austrian friend.

During the following years he taught at varying levels of French, Latin and Spanish. He occasionally taught evening courses for adults, and was a cooperation teacher for Rhode Island College. He became involved with the local teachers organization SEA becoming president in 1956. In which position he was able to unify SEA with NEA, resulting in the new name National Education Association.

Ron oversaw the installation of the school’s first language laboratory and began a program for students to research foreign recipes to create them and bring them to class to share with each other on a designated meal day.

During April vacations he took small groups of students to Europe and installed them in a host City to absorb the living language and customs for 2 days, followed by an extensive motor coach tour of historical and important places. Some of the places visited were Columbus’s tomb and the valley of the fallen in Northern Spain and in France, Mount St. Michael and the Chateau country.

These spectacular trips ended with a dip in the warm waters of Torremolinis in Southern Spain or Cannes in France, followed by return to the capital and the flight home. His own travels included most of the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, parts of South America, Western and Central Europe, Scandinavia, Greece and Egypt.

He retired in 1988 and spent time enjoying opera, shows and cooking. Especially his famous seafood chowder eagerly awaited by his friends and family during 25 years of New Year’s Eve parties. He also spent time caring for and assisting elderly relatives and many pets. He was an animal lover and owned many for over 70 years.

He is survived by his beloved niece Pamela Reis and her husband Paul of East Providence and Jennifer McNulty of East Providence and Rae Beland of Smithfield, a nephew, Michael R. McNulty Sr. of Seekonk, MA, cousins, Diane Murphy and Robert Geremia of Florida and Michael Geremia and his wife Shirley of North Carolina, dear friends, Steven Jennings, Edmund Nava and Ann Ferri all of Rhode Island, Jim and Bonnie Aubuchom of Florida and dearest friend and caretaker, Kevin A. Nutini.

His funeral service will be held on Wednesday July 14, 2021 in the W. RAYMOND WATSON FUNERAL HOME, 350 Willett Avenue, Riverside at 12 noon. Burial will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery. Calling hours are Tuesday 5-7 p.m. Flowers are respectfully omitted.

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25 Comments

  1. Mr. St. Onge was my English teacher at the Smithfield Junior High. He was an Amazing teacher. He made learning so interesting. I knew he liked to sing, but never know just how much. I do remember he had one of the 1st convertible hardtop cars. It was a yellowish gold. He was an impeccable dresser, so neat. My deepest condolences to all his family and loved ones.

  2. I had Me St. Onge for Spanish 3. I had no idea he did all this music stuff, a very impressive resume indeed. Rest In Peace, descansa en Paz, repose en paix

  3. To Mr St Onge Family I was one of his students at Smithfield jr High school! He was my civics teacher and great person, it was very enjoyable class on Old County Rd in Edmond or Georgieville,RI not sure which they called it at time. God bless him and may he Rest In Peace.

  4. My twin brother and I had Mr. St. Onge for Spanish. It was like teaching the deaf, dumb, and blind to play tennis – but he tried. He retired right after that. (Coincidence?)

    He was always a kind man and humble – we never knew of his many accomplishments. He had a lot of choices, and he chose teaching. I didn’t realize the influence and impact he had on so many students over the years. Wonderful.

    We so often stand next to amazing people and have no idea. My brother and I look back and realize how high caliber our teachers were at Smithfield High School.

    Mr. St. Onge saw how disorganized I was and gave me a three ring binder he’d gotten from his insurance company. I was touched. That binder sits on my shelf, still in use 35 years later, ten feet from me now, and every time I’d pick it up I’d remember him. Even small kindnesses remain.

  5. I had Mr. St. Onge for Spanish when I was in the 11th grade. I had not idea what an exciting life he had and how talented he was. He was a great teacher and will be missed

  6. I remember Mr. St Onge from my Smithfield High school years. I was class of 1973. Such an accomplishment with an accomplished life that I never knew he had. It’s wonderful that he had such a nice long life. May he rest well and condolences to the family.

  7. On behalf of my entire family I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Ron. If my parents, Amy and Vincent Gallagher, were still with us they could regal everyone with wonderful stories about Ron, his talents, and amazing life. Although I only had Ron briefly for Latin, I had the great pleasure to work with him at SHS following college, and then in retirement to run into him and Kevin often, usually at Jaswell’s Farm and Dave’s Marketplace. His zest for life continued into the culinary arts.

    I am so sorry for your loss. l

  8. I offer my condolences to his family and friends. He was my Spanish teacher for Span. 2 and 3. We missed him the year of his terrible car accident. He was a precise and careful teacher, and we were lucky to have him. RIP, Mr. St Onge.

  9. I remember Mr. St. Onge at Smithfield High but never had him as a teacher. His life accomplishments are incredible. Such a full life and role model to so many. I’m very sorry for Kevin’s and all his family’s loss. He’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. On behalf of my family, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Mr St Onge. Both of my parents worked with him in the Smithfield School System, and both spoke highly of him. He was my Spanish teacher for two years at SHS, and I remember him as a very nice man and excellent teacher. Again, my deepest condolences.

  11. Monsieur St. Onge was one of the most impressive and memorable teachers I had at SHS. Two years of French that I hardly passed – despite his always positive encouragement. He was also my home room teacher where I saw yet another side of him. He loved the students and was always respectful, dedicated and professional. I’m glad that at the 50th SHS reunion I was able to shake his hand and say thank you for his outstanding service. As always – he was gracious and humble. God bless him and his family, as God has blessed us with him.

  12. I had missed the scene on for Spanish he was a good teacher learned a lot from him I was from the class of 72 rest in peace fly with the angels you will never be forgotten

  13. I talked to Mr. St. Onge at our 50th reunion class of 1968 (first graduates of Smithfield High School). I told him I always remembered how he greeted his students when he stated his class, “bonjour mes eleves”. He laughed that I remembered that after so many years. He was a great teacher & a wonderful man. Our deepest condolences to the entire St. Onge family; RIP Mr. St. Onge🙏

  14. I talked to Mr. St. Onge at our 50th reunion of the class of 1968 ( first graduates of Smithfield High School). I had him for a teacher of French for two years. I told him I would never forget how he greeted his class every day, bonjour mes eleves. He got a chuckle out of that. He was a great teacher & a wonderful man. Our deepest sympathy to the entire St. Onge family🙏 RIP Mr. St. Onge🙏

  15. Although I was never as student of Mr St Onge, my father was. Mr. St Onge taught the GED class at Smithfield High in the evenings. My father often spoke of him and admired him as a teacher and considered him a friend.

  16. On behalf of the entire Shepard family we wish to extend our condolences to the St. Onge family. If our Dad Henry was still with us I know he would have been able to write a fitting tribute filled with accolades. RIP Mr. St Onge. You will live on in the minds and hearts of all your students.

  17. Mr . St. Ongoing was my Spanish teacher for 3 years at Smithfield High School in the early 80’s. Super nice guy!

  18. Mr. St. Onge,
    I had you for Latin and Ancient History at the former Smithfield Memorial Junior High School. Those jr high years were my favorite school years and you had a lot to do with that. You were a great teacher and I discovered an affinity for languages due to your great instruction. I excelled in Latin and when I left to attend Classical High School in Providence ( because Smithfield had no high school at the time and all students had to attend high school out of town), I discovered that I was way ahead of the other students in my Latin class thanks to your great teaching and thoroughness of subject matter. I also developed an interest in Ancient History and still remember sitting at the kitchen table drawing Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns for a class assignment. I was one of your students who stayed after school to help in your classroom and remember the rides home in your black and yellow Ford hardtop convertible. We were all impressed with that car! You accomplished much during your lifetime and took advantage of your many talents. May you now enjoy the fruits of your labor. Rest in Eternal Peace, Mr. St. Onge.

  19. Dear Ron,
    May you Rest In Peace! Although I was mostly a Gear Head in School in the shop class working on my 1963 Chevy Super Sport Convertible I did study Spanish. I always admired you for the finer things in school like music and literature. I was just talking about you two days ago at a Class of 1968 meeting. You will be sadly missed!
    Adios Amigo!

    Class of 1968
    Smithfield High School

  20. I was a student of Ron, Mr St Onge, in my high school years. So much of what was taught then is still used by me today. Who knew?…he did. He was a great teacher, remembered fondly as a good guy. Rest in peace.

  21. so sorry to hear cousin Ron passed away…..time distance prevented us from visiting often…..last time we saw him and Kevin was 2016 when I was up in R.I. for a reunion of the class of 1958 of Warwick Veterans Memorial High School where I taught history 1958-59……..I was 80 then and saw many of my students who were in their 70s……..Ron and Kevin invited Shirley and I out to dinner one time at a nice restaurant in Providence, but I dont remember the name…….He had a nice house on Douglas Pike in Smithfield. and I remember his nice cats…..He was the main caretaker of my Aunt Mary who lived next door to him…..many fond memories of playing with him and sister, Jeanne in Riverside…Teddy was too young then…my mother used to visit with her sisters every Thursday for the sewing circle and I loved going to that as always there was candy and playing with my cousins including cousin Diane–daughter of my Aunt Ada…all so long ago—-70+ years ago……Ron was the last of the St. Onge family—-many good memories…..

  22. To the family of the McNulty’s and St Onge’s I’m so sorry for your loss he was a great man very nice to me when we met he will be in heaven with Trish, jeanne Mae (mom),Jeanne, Grammy,

  23. He was always a nice, smart guy. I was impressed with his life’s accomplishments Good for him,,, May he RIP

  24. What a gift to have been a family member to this extraordinary person! I wish you loving memories to ease your grief.

  25. What an incredible life,
    I am so sorry for your loss.

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