Former reporter, director of legislative press, dies at 86

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The former director of the State of Rhode Island’s Legislative Press and Publications Bureau died this week at the age of 86.

Thomas Roberts of North Smithfield died peacefully on Wednesday, Dec. 15, according to his family. Roberts, a native Rhode Islander, was born on September 18, 1935. He was the husband to Carole (Casey) Roberts and a father of four.

Roberts attended Providence College, served in the Rhode Island National Guard, and began his career as a newspaper reporter for The Woonsocket Call, followed by The Pawtucket Times. In 1974, he began working for the State of Rhode Island’s Legislative Press and Publications Bureau, ultimately becoming the director. In 1993, he was selected to be the chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Paul Kelly, before retiring in 1996.

Roberts was “a student of politics,” and was particularly passionate about local politics according to family. He was active in the North Smithfield Democratic Town Committee for many years and was a communicant of St. John’s Parish in Slatersville since childhood. Proud of his Irish heritage, he was a member of the Ancient Order of Hiberneans, the Sons of Irish Kings, and the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick. He enjoyed golfing, boating, gardening, playing cards and teaching his ten grandchildren how to play checkers.

His greatest passion was his family, and Roberts was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. In addition to Carole, his wife of 61 years, he is survived by his four children and their families: Thomas and Betsy Roberts of Vienna, Virginia (Emma and Justin), Erin and Joe Venditti of Touisset, Rhode Island (Joseph, Annie, Julia, and Molly), Casey and Sabrina Roberts of Marshfield, Massachusetts (Casey and Haley), Peter and Jennifer Roberts of Glenview, Illinois (Abby and Katie). He was the son of the late Leo and Amelia Roberts.

His funeral will be Tuesday, December 21, at 11:30 a.m. in St. John the Evangelist Church at 63 Church St. in Slatersville. Burial will follow in the parish cemetery. Calling hours will be Monday, Dec. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Holt Funeral Home at 510 South Main St., Woonsocket. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to HopeHealth, 1085 North Main St., Providence, RI 02904 or St. John the Evangelist Church, PO Box 266, Slatersville, RI 02876.

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