Saying farewell to RI’s bearer of good news


Last Thursday, Beacon Communications lost one of its longest-tenured contributors as freelancer Pete Fontaine passed away at 77 years old.

Pete was a staple in Rhode Island sports journalism for many years, covering the southern part of the state as an editor at multiple publications before spending the later part of his career in central RI. His final years were spent at Beacon Communications, where he covered news and sports events, primarily for our Johnston publication.

Pete had been in the hospital for a bit prior to his passing as he dealt with complications. We were unsure of which direction his health would go, and unfortunately, he passed on Wednesday and we learned of the news Thursday.

The thing that I will remember the most about Pete was his devotion to the towns and cities that he covered, especially Johnston.

From the moment he got up each morning to the time his head hit the pillow at night, all he cared about was the next story. Pete’s network of contacts throughout the state was immense and only continued to grow to the time that he died. Pete loved people and his passion was telling their stories and making them feel like a million bucks in the paper. He lived for it.

In the six years I knew Pete, he wrote hundreds of stories between sports and news and there was one thing that was consistent in each one … the subjects were special people, celebrating special events, for special purposes.

As journalists, we are required to tell the facts, black and white, good and bad. Pete used to always tell me that those days were over for him after decades in the business. As a freelance writer, he got to choose the stories he covered, and he made sure to spend his final years recognizing the good news in the community rather than delivering the bad news. No one could make someone feel like they were the talk of the town the way Pete did.

In the past two years, Pete continued to stay busy even as his health declined. Between reporting on a weekly basis, being a devoted member of the Tri-City Elks and heading their annual golf tournament, to simply beep bopping around town socially, Pete had a ton of energy for someone of his age that was also on a walker toward the end. He always pushed through the pain and made it happen.

Like it often goes, his death happened quickly. In a matter of a few weeks he went from doing his usual routine to being gone. Although I was aware that he was in a tough spot in the days leading up to his death, it definitely took me a bit to process the news considering how resilient he always was in times of poor health. I guess there is only so many times a person can bounce back.

I swung by Don Rodrigues’ karate school off Airport Road in Warwick on Thursday to speak with him regarding his upcoming Ocean State Grand Nationals tournament, which hosts practitioners from all around the world at the Crowne Plaza.

Our interview began about an hour after I received the news of Pete’s passing, so it is fair to say that I was still very much in that processing phase. Toward the end of our sit down, I shifted our discussion toward the general sport of karate and its beautiful history. As always, Don gave me some fascinating insight, but told me a story that really resonated with me, especially on that day.

He spoke about a time he was with a friend years back. When his friend asked him, ‘What is the most important thing in life?’ Don responded, ‘Family? Health?”

His friend’s answer? Time.

The most important thing in life is time, because it goes by fast and you only have so much of it. Every second that you’re on this earth is one fewer that you have, and you need to make the most of every moment that you’re here.

That sentiment reflected Pete wonderfully. Pete did what he loved every second of every day and he did it until he could not do it anymore.

I always considered Pete to be Rhode Island’s bearer of good news, a title that he would have happily assumed.

Rest in peace, Pete.

pitch, farewell, sports


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