Cranston resident endows the arts, student scholarships at URI’s Feinstein Providence Campus

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Part of URI’s ‘Making a Difference’ capital campaign

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – October 18, 2007 — Inspired by the generosity of Alan Shawn Feinstein to the University of Rhode Island, one woman has memorialized her two sons through endowments at the University’s Feinstein Providence Campus.

Gloria Buteau, who became a single mother when her two sons were 4 years old and 18 months old and who worked her way up to manager in the Rumford post office, has established two endowments of $25,000 each. One will provide for student scholarships and the other is the first endowment for the Urban Arts and Culture Program on the Providence Campus. Both bear the names of her sons, Richard W. and Ronald S. Buteau, whose portraits now hang in the Providence Campus gallery. The Urban Arts and Culture Program presents a diverse spectrum of visual and performing arts programming.

Both of her sons had their lives cut short, Ronnie in an unfortunate accident in 1977, and Ricky, just four years ago at the age of 56, as a result of an injury he had sustained while in the military.

“Ronnie and Ricky will be forever in my heart,” said Buteau as she described life with her sons. “And with these endowments they will be remembered by others as well.”

A resident of Cranston, Buteau said she misses her sons every day, as she finds pictures, gadgets and notes from their childhoods. “Finding these items has been like a gift. Ronnie was good at all things mechanical. I remember when he was a child, sometimes he took things apart only to find he had extra pieces left after putting them back together,” she fondly described. “He went on to become a great mechanic.”

Buteau said that after a time in the service, Ricky had enrolled in classes at Harvard University and found a love for quantum physics. “Ricky was my scholar. He loved studying everything from math and physics, to computer science and set theory. He was an avid reader and was always developing new scientific theories.”

Having raised her children mostly alone, Buteau said she knows firsthand what life is like for a single parent. That’s why the idea of helping adult students appealed to her.

“I have known Alan Shawn Feinstein since I worked at the post office in Cranston where I was a clerk and where Alan often visited. I bumped into him recently and told him I wanted my sons’ remembered. He gave me his phone number, and when I called him, he told me about the endowment he had established for his mother. Later I met Joanne (Dibello, director of marketing and external affairs at the Providence Campus), who told me about the arts program. I decided my sons deserved both endowments.”

The endowments at the Feinstein Providence Campus have shared the message of a mother’s love and will be acknowledged every May as part of the annual Richard W. and Ronald S. Buteau memorial art exhibit in Providence. The URI Providence Campus Gallery is located on the first- and second-floor lobbies at 80 Washington St.

“It will be like a mother’s day gift each year from my boys, and it will be a gift that keeps on giving to other people,” said Buteau. “I know Rickie and Ronnie would be proud.”

The Buteau gift is part of URI’s “Making a Difference” campaign, which seeks $100 million to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, enhance the student-centered campus experience, provide undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, and fund cutting-edge academic and research initiatives. For more information on the campaign, click on