By Christine Roundtree (LRI '91) | 12/12/17
An Open Letter: Gary St. Peter
"Gary could always be counted on to see through to the heart and the Truth of the matter and then make a very emphatic decision." - Christine Rountree (LRI '91)
Dear Leadership Rhode Island,
Your handsome newsletter arrived in today’s mail. I always start at the back page when reading that kind of document. Yes, I like to see the list of names (including mine).
As soon as I read my name, I looked for Gary’s. I was surprised to see the absence of his name, knowing how dedicated he always was to LRI.
I was shocked when I turned to the front and saw that Gary has passed away. My heartfelt sympathy go out to Jan and to Matt and to Chris. The sons were very young when we met and I was so impressed with them and Angel Planes. The only 5K walk I ever struggled my way through was a fundraiser for Angel Planes.
As I read the touching comments about Gary, I wish I had known that there was such an opportunity to share thoughts and remembrances of such a special person. For many years, Gary was the Chairman of the Board of the Providence Human Relations Commission where I served as Executive Director.
This may be hyperbole to some but I think he was the most supportive Chairman any Director could have had. In that swirl of political intrigue known to show itself among factions in such an enterprise, Gary could always be counted on to see through to the heart and the Truth of the matter and then make a very emphatic decision. He was not challenged by others with different opinions. He was such a smart man with such a calm way of being definite about matters and what he decided, stood.
He and I were very close during that time. I met Jan, another very special person, and Matt and Chris, the extraordinary teen pilots doing amazing work for youngsters with severe facial abnormalities. They flew a leg of the trip with patient in tow to the next step in the process of getting facial reconstruction.
I remember when Gary was fairly new, he and Jan, Matt and Chris showed up at a Christmas party and free Christmas dinner my staff and some Board members organized several times. Knowing Gary’s status and stature, I am sorry to admit that I was shocked to see the entire family in very disadvantaged neighborhoods. Gary was always, always there in every way possible and needed.
The year I remember most is when Police Chief, Bernard Gannon, dressed up as Santa, handed out gifts we had gathered for the children. So much was donated by Gary and caring others that there was no way we could fail even though there was no money in my Department budget for the events. The police officers who worked with us were marvels at approaching local businesses for donations.
Wonderful full-course dinners were arranged and everyone from the particular neighborhood we invaded had a hot meal.
Stop and Shop usually donated turkeys for the feast to come.
For two years, Gary and I co-hosted the Annual LRI Award Luncheon. A better co-host, Chairman and most of all, friend, no one could ever have had.
Please send my deepest sympathy to Gary’s family for me.
I am deeply saddened and share the grief of the many and many and many more who knew Gary ST. Peter.
May he rest in grace.