R 149
97-S 921
Passed in Senate
Mar. 19, 1997

S E N A T E    R E S O L U T I O N


WHEREAS, A charismatic gentlemen and legendary civic leader, former Mayor Humphrey J. Donnelly III was exactly the right man, in the right place, and at the right time, to oversee Newport's phoenix-like transformation from a city devastated by the economic repercussions of the loss of the Navy's Atlantic Fleet into a vital, exciting mecca for tourism. As well known for his infectious smile and irrepressible Irish wit as he was for his tremendous work ethic and indomitable spirit, "Harp" Donnelly was truly one of the most beloved citizens of the City-by-the-Sea, and his death is keenly felt by all Rhode Islanders; and

WHEREAS, Born in Newport on August 13, 1930 to Humphrey J. Donnelly, Jr. and Edna (Winters) Donnelly, Humphrey J. Donnelly III was the eldest son in a family of nine children. Following his graduation from Rogers High School, Harp served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1947 to 1949 and the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953. A veteran of the Korean War, he married Barbara Ann Herrick in 1952, and they raised a family of six children; and

WHEREAS, After receiving his Honorable Discharge from the Army, Harp Donnelly joined the Newport Electric Company, now Eastern Utilities, and worked there for 38 years before retiring in 1993. Appointed Clerk of the Canvassing Authority of Newport in 1993, he held this position until illness forced him to retire; and

WHEREAS, Entering politics in 1969, when he won election to an at-large seat on the City Council, Harp Donnelly was first elected mayor in 1971, and held that office until 1981, the longest tenure of any mayor under the city's present form of government; and

WHEREAS, During his lengthy service as mayor, Mr. Donnelly placed an important part in transforming Newport from an economically depressed city abandoned by its principal employer--the Navy abruptly withdrew its fleet in 1973--into a thriving tourist destination with a bustling waterfront and a rich architectural history. Under his leadership, the city switched gears and began to captivate tourists with such attractions as the America's Cup races and the Tall Ships in the Bicentennial year of 1976; and

WHEREAS, The first mayor to visit Shimoda, Newport's "sister city" in Japan, Harp Donnelly, the proud son of an Irish immigrant, welcomed Queen Elizabeth to Newport in 1976 for the dedication of Queen Anne Square. Playing host to the Swedish royal family and such celebrities as Johnny Cash and Elizabeth Taylor, Harp also visited the White House during the Ford Administration, bearing an historic flag as a gift; and

WHEREAS, Always interested in maintaining good relations with the Navy, Harp Donnelly's efforts earned him the Meritorious Public Service Award from the Chief of Naval Operations in 1976, and he was made an honorary graduate of the Officers Candidate School's 30th Anniversary Class in 1981; and

WHEREAS, A communicant of St. Augustine's Church, Mr. Donnelly served as President of the Board of Directors of the Newport County Chapter of the Association of Retarded Citizens, James L. Maher Center, and was a member of both the Rhode Island Arc and the National Arc; and

WHEREAS, Humphrey J. Donnelly III was a member and officer of many of the various organizations which contribute their time and efforts to making Newport a better place to live including: the East Bay Chapters of the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society, the Newport County Chapter of Arc, the Newport County Health Care Corp., the NAACP, the Newport Public Education Foundation, Friends of the Newport Touro Synagogue, Friends of Child and Family Services, the Newport Art Museum and far too many others to list; and

WHEREAS, Besides his wife, Humphrey J. Donnelly III is survived by his three daughters, Marilyn A. Donnelly, Sandra J. Henderson and Maureen E. Cotsoridis, and three sons, Humphrey J. Donnelly IV, Stephen H. Donnelly, and Patrick K. Donnelly, all of Newport; six brothers, Donald J. Donnelly and Francis W. Donnelly, both of Middletown, Brian P. Donnelly of Portsmouth, and Thomas W. Donnelly, Michael Chad Donnelly and John F. Donnelly, all of Newport; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby offers its sincere condolences to the family, friends and legions of admirers of the late Humphrey J. "Harp" Donnelly III. A distinguished and beloved ambassador, advocate and public servant for Newport for many, many years, Harp Donnelly was a kind, caring individual with an international heart of gold. A remarkable gentleman whose life was filled with good deeds, a magnanimous spirit and omnipresent good humor, he represented all that is best in Newport; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to Mrs. Barbara Ann Donnelly.

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