AMerican Veteran 11

Charles R. LaFontaine

April 28, 2020


Charles R. LaFontaine, 90, of Forestdale (North Smithfield), R.I., former Vice President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Woonsocket Institution for Savings and Woonsocket Trust Company died on April 28, 2020.  He was the husband of Muriel L (Rouette) LaFontaine. They celebrated their sixty-seventh wedding anniversary September 6, 2019.

They met at a YMCA dance just before Charlie enlisted in the Air Force. They got to know each other through their letter writings. After a few leaves they were married and were stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah. At the time of their marriage, Muriel had just turned 19 and Charlie was 22.  He would tell people they had many adjustments to make in their lives.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, son of the late Arthur J. LaFontaine and Margaret (Fitzpatrick/Hasney) LaFontaine. He was only 14 months old when his father died so he did not have a French influence in his life.  He was raised with the Irish heritage from his mother and grandmother.

Charlie has the Service Record of his great grandfather John Fitzpatrick indicating that he had fought in the Civil War in the battle at Laurel Hill, VA.  John’s brother, James Fitzpatrick was killed in the Civil War.  Charles’ father served during World War I and his brother Arthur, served in World War II. Charles was a veteran of the Korean War.  His nephew Paul Charles LaFontaine served in Vietnam and now his grandson, Andrew Charles LaFontaine is presently in the Air Force Reserves after having served 2 tours in Afghanistan. His grandson, Kyle Sutcliffe is presently in the Army National Guard.  Charles was always proud of the family tradition of service to their country.

Charles graduated from Cranston High School and from Bryant College in1956 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.  He graduated from Brown University in 1968 from the Graduate School of Savings Banking. The main focus of the graduate school was on monetary and fiscal policy and the effects it had on the banking industry.

During his tenure at Woonsocket Institution for Savings and Trust he was responsible for the Administration and Operations of both the Savings Bank and the Trust Company.   When he started in the bank there was only a total of fifteen employees so he was trained in all departments including hand posting to the “The Boston Ledger”. With his various experiences he had the responsibility of transferring the Bank from a ledger card to a computer automated system. He shepherded the first On-Line Banking system in the State of Rhode Island in 1966. When the Commercial Bank was formed in 1967, he established the accounting procedures such as the method of cash flow and the settlement of inter-company accounts between the two banks. 

He was very active in the Rhode Island Banking Association for many years.  He served as Chairperson of three different committees:  The Finance and Budget Committee, the Operations Committee and the Program Committee which oversaw the Annual Convention of The Rhode Island Banking Association.

In community activities in Woonsocket and North Smithfield, he served as Chairperson of the Meetings Committee of the Greater Woonsocket Chamber of Commerce, Treasurer of the American Red Cross, Woonsocket Chapter and Treasurer of the Education Fund, Woonsocket Kiwanis Club.

In the Town of North Smithfield, where he was a resident for over 50 years, he was Chairperson of the Tax Review Board and Chairperson of Cub Scouts, Pack17.  He was honored for many years of service as Treasurer and as President of the North Smithfield Public Library.  He was a Eucharistic Minister for over 25 years at St. John the Evangelist Parish, Slatersville RI and served two terms as Auditor of the Parish.  Both he and his wife, Muriel, graduated from the Spirituality of Christian Leadership Program at Our Lady of Peace in Narragansett, which covered over a 3-year period including attending12 retreats.

Besides his wife, he leaves five children. His two sons, David C. LaFontaine and his wife, Lynn of North Smithfield, Peter S. LaFontaine and his wife, Karen, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and his three daughters Charlene L. Szczepanek and her husband, Stanley, of Rehoboth, MA, Karen A. Sutcliffe and her husband, Gordon “Cooky” of Cumberland and Paula A. Ryfa and her husband, Erik of Cumberland, twelve grandchildren, Christopher LaFontaine and his wife, Justine; Andrew LaFontaine and his wife, Sarah; Nicholas Glynn, Brian LaFontaine; Nicholas Szczepanek and his wife Ashley, Kelly Szczepanek Forbes and her husband, Cote; Matthew and Kyle Sutcliffe; Margaret Mae and Abigail Cahill and Grace Ryfa. and was predeceased by his grandson, Ryan Kenneth Sutcliffe. They also have three great grandsons, Alexander David Charles LaFontaine, Gabriel Ryan Joseph LaFontaine, and Oliver James Forbes and one great granddaughter, Lily Marie LaFontaine. He was predeceased by his brother Arthur P. LaFontaine of Alameda, California and his sister Shirley Benoit of Port St. Lucie, Florida. 

Services and burial at St. John the Evangelist Cemetery, Slatersville, will be private. Arrangements are under the direction of the Holt Funeral Home, 510 South Main St., Woonsocket.

A memorial mass will be scheduled in the future.

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