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Ralph W. Perry, 93, Portsmouth


Ralph W. Perry, 93, of Portsmouth, R.I., died at home on June 23, 2020 from complications of a stroke. Born Sepy. 15, 1926 in Newport, he was the son of the late Charles A. Perry and Nora (Ross) Perry. He was predeceased by his high school sweetheart and beloved wife of 62 years, Wilma (McAuliffe) Perry. 

Ralph graduated from Rogers High School in 1944, where he excelled at basketball and football. In high school he served as a postal worker, as many local adults were called into military service during WWII. Upon graduation he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in England and France during the war as an Airplane and Engine Mechanic. 

Upon discharge from the Army in February 1946, he returned to Newport and worked as an airplane mechanic at Quonset Point. He served as a Newport policeman for several years before starting a residential construction company, where he worked on many of the famous estates of Newport and constructed many homes in the city’s 5th Ward. 

He and his wife are founding members of both Gooseberry Beach and the Green Valley Country Club, and were part of a unique group of Newporters that hung out at Green Bridge. He was an avid skier, loved to fish off the rocks around the Ocean Drive, and golf was his greatest recreational passion. He enjoyed assisting young golfers attending the summer golf camp at Green Valley, and helped coach members of the Portsmouth High School Golf Team. 

On weekends, prior to the construction of the Newport Bridge, he and his many family members would take the Newport-to-Jamestown ferry to the Newport County Boys and Girls Club’s summer camp in Saunderstown, R.I., where he donated his time constructing many of the camp’s buildings that remain in use today. Upon retiring from his construction business, he and Wilma, became caretakers of an estate on Indian Avenue in Portsmouth, where for many years they enjoyed entertaining family and friends at cookouts and holiday gatherings. Over the past few years, he enjoyed traveling to Nova Scotia, where he researched his ancestry and met many relatives for the first time.

He leaves behind three children, his son, Marty, of Sarasota, Florida, and Marty’s partner Bob Fulghum; his daughter, Deborah Melusky, and son, Raymond Perry and his wife, Solange, all of Portsmouth. He also leaves behind his granddaughter, Jennifer Vieira, of Portsmouth, with whom he made his home and was cared for during his later years, her husband, Manny, and great-grandson, Ethan. Ralph also leaves his grandson, Edward Melusky III of Warwick, and his partner, Dianny Pena, and their child Elias James; and grandson Justin Perry of Washington, D.C., and granddaughter Melissa Perry of Portsmouth. He was a brother of the late Emerson (Charles) Perry, Henry Perry, Arthur Perry, Helen (Perry) Fahy, and Marston Perry. He also leaves his dog and loyal friend, Cleo.

Ralph was renowned for his never-ending sense of humor, ability to connect in conversation with anyone, especially children, and his kind heart and giving nature. He possessed an amazing ability to hold any crying baby and rock them to sleep within minutes.

The family plans to celebrate Ralph’s life at Green Valley Country Club as soon as we beat the COVID-19 Pandemic. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Potter League for Animals, PO Box 412, Newport, RI 02840.

Arrangements are by the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home; to share memories and online tributes, please visit

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.