PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A memorial service was held at Central Congregational Church, in Providence, R.I., on Monday, April 1, for Donald A. Roach whose family announces his passing on March 25.
A child of the Midwest, Don was born in Cleveland Ohio, on July 27, 1930.
He graduated with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1952, and that year was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Don served as Chief Engineer on the U.S.S. Monssen with oversea duties in Asia (Korean Conflict), Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean. While in the Navy and stationed in Newport R.I., Don met and fell in love with Nancy Gifford, who lived in Barrington, R.I. They were married in 1955, and together they devoted their lives to raising four children.
Don is survived by Nancy and their sons and daughters: Deborah, her husband Dennis, and sons Christopher and Colin; Cindy, her husband Jeffrey, and their sons and daughter James, Michael, Scott, and Maggie; Donald, his wife Stacey, and their daughters Katie and Mallory; Douglas, his wife Susan, and their son and daughter Daniel and Elizabeth. Don devoted his life to his family, career, and community service.
Following his military service, Don received a master in business administration degree from Harvard University in 1957. The family moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Rhode Island in 1971. This move brought Nancy back home and soon Don also came to identify with and love New England. They also enjoyed family gatherings at High Pastures Farm in Pomfret.
His professional career was primarily with Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, where he rose to be president and CEO. He retired from Brown & Sharpe in 1990, after which he ran a family company in the hybrid microelectronics industry.
Highlights of Don’s generous community service include his holding the following positions: founder and president of the Board of Trustees for the Greenhills School, Ann Arbor, Michigan; trustee of Women and Infants Hospital of Providence; trustee of Rhode Island School of Design; trustee of the American Precision Museum Association; Director of Junior Achievement of Rhode Island; director of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce; director of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company; director of B.A. Ballou & Co., Inc.; director of Wardwell Braiding Machine Company; member of the Purdue University Research Foundation; Founder and chairman of Rhode Island Business Group on Health; governor appointee to Rhode Island Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care; member of Purdue Mechanical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board; chair of Purdue University’s President’s Council; member Steering Committee for Purdue Capital Campaign; and long-time member of Lakota Club.
Don received the following accolades: Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Faculty of the Schools of Engineering of Purdue University; Chester Kirk Distinguished Engineer Award from the University of Rhode Island; Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Award, Purdue University; Honorary Doctor of Engineering, Purdue University; Outstanding Industrial Engineering Award, Purdue University; President’s Council Ambassador-of-the Year, Purdue University. In 2002, the governor of Indiana conferred on Don the state’s highest award, membership in the Council of the Sagamore of the Wabash, “for Distinguished Service, Inspiration in Leadership, Loyalty in Friendship, and Wisdom in Council.”
Don led by example. He worked hard and expected no less of others. He cared deeply about the welfare of his family, neighbors and country. He was an avid gardener and fly fisherman, both hobbies which he inherited from his father and enjoyed sharing with his family and friends. He was also a fanatic Purdue fan. Don recognized the benefits that he had received from his alma mater, and he gave generously to this school so as to insure that others would have equal educational opportunities. Don wore his love of family on his sweet, smiling face. By example, he taught his children and grandchildren the virtues of love, work, good will, and community responsibility. The love of his life and the source of his greatest happiness was Nancy, with whom he recently celebrated their 58 years of marriage.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in Don’s memory be given to the Philip Hulitar Inpatient Center, Home & Hospice Care of R.I., 1085 North Main St. Providence, R.I. 02904.
This obituary first appeared in the April 11, 2013 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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