By JOHN HOWELL Caring, passionate about helping others, positive and beautiful were all words used more than once to describe the late Gloria Fairbanks Saturday as the Police Athletic League building on Bend Street was named for her. For as long as
Caring, passionate about helping others, positive and beautiful were all words used more than once to describe the late Gloria Fairbanks Saturday as the Police Athletic League building on Bend Street was named for her.
For as long as people could remember, Gloria, who died on cancer April 18, 2018, had always been involved in the community. Former Warwick Mayor Joseph Walsh, who along with former Mayor Scott Avedisian and Mayor Frank Picozzi attended the ceremony, remembered Gloria from her involvement in his campaign for mayor in the 1970s.
Avedisian, a Republican, met Gloria when he was running for the Ward 1 City Council seat in 1990. He said she was a member of a group of citizens who attended every council meeting. He spoke of the “quiet ways” Gloria engaged and led the community and “touched so many people” with her positive influence.
“I have to believe she ordered the weather today,” he said, imagining Gloria looking down on the event and urging those in attendance getting on with their work rather than fussing over her.
City Council President Steve McAllister arranged for the dedication of the PAL offices and served as master of ceremonies. At the conclusion of the ceremony, McAllister presented Gloria’s grandchildren with bouquets and invited attendees into the building.
Before her retirement in 2006, Gloria was the city’s Director of Youth and Family Services. In 2008, she received the award for outstanding services to Warwick schoolchildren, through her work with youth services. She gave of herself serving on the boards of Westbay Community Action, the Trudeau Center and Volunteers of Warwick Schools. She was the first woman president of the Parents Council of Bishop Hendricken High School.
Picozzi recalled his days as president of Apponaug Girls Softball and involvement with youth sports. “She had a passion for sports and children,” he said, “she was a beautiful charming woman.”
Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi also spoke of Gloria’s passion for youth and to help people. He said she was one of those people that always looked for the good things in others. “She always did the right thing by people,” he said.
Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis worked with Gloria on a number of boards and projects. She said Gloria loved the city and always gave 110 percent to whatever project she took on.
Diane LeDoux, president of the PAL board, used three words to describe Gloria: opportunity, excitement and legacy. She said the PAL building provides a perfect venue for social outreach and networking.
“Gloria always had a unique ability to connect with the kids,” she said.
As for excitement, LeDoux said Gloria was aware of the excitement of learning and understood the importance of organizations like PAL in building character, leadership skills and friendships lasting a lifetime.
“Gloria has been an amazing advocate for children her whole adult life, and by dedicating the PAL building we will keep her legacy alive,” she said.
LeDoux also touched on the PAL program, introducing PAL director Officer Russell Brown. Brown said about 90 young people are actively involved in each of the currently ongoing baseball and lacrosse programs. He also spoke of the PAL mentoring program that served 25 at-risk students earlier this year. He said the naming of the building is a fitting recognition for PAL’s 50th anniversary being observed this year.
McAllister concluded the program, citing Gloria’s positive attitude and adding, “she is still here.”