Andrew A. DiPrete Jr., 66, of Warwick, joined his parents and other loved ones in Heaven on August 19, 2019. He was the firstborn son of Andrew and Jean (Seadna Gerety) DiPrete.
Born in the 1950s with Down syndrome, Andrew Jr. was a pioneer for essentially every pilot program that Rhode Island initiated for the mentally challenged from the 1960s into the 1980s. Following his brief residency at Ladd School, Andrew tested the structure and person-centered values of workshops, group homes, community employment, semi-independent living programs and more. These programs were important locally but, more importantly, served to pilot efforts throughout the country to help move our brothers and sisters out of the darkness and into our communities of everyday life. In Rhode Island, it was reportedly his level of Down syndrome that was used to measure which programs worked well for which degrees of a person’s condition.
During his early years, Andrew was an active participant in the RI Association for Retarded Citizens and Special Olympics, consistently out-swimming nearly everyone who ever met him, regardless of the pool. In his middle years, Andrew moved with family out of Rhode Island, living in several states before returning to Rhode Island shortly after his mother’s death in 2001. Following his retirement in 2005, he enjoyed an incredible variety of opportunities at the Generations Adult Day Health Center, where amazing staff members helped him to explore a talent for painting, as well as enjoyment of science, theater and baking. More recently, he basked in the love offered so generously by the staff at Bertenshaw as he continued to enjoy cookouts and sailing outings.
Known for his belly laugh and unapologetic love of food, he was a well-known figure as he walked and rode his tricycle around his neighborhood for 15 years, year-round, whether in shorts with a camel back of water or with winter gloves and snow boots. A long-time altar boy and volunteer at Saint Rita’s Catholic Church, participant in The Trudeau Center’s adult recreation program, and beloved family member, he had the kind of social life about which most of us can only dream. His social skills were those our nation’s politicians should seek to emulate; always genuine, completely without guile, entirely warm and inviting, and assuming everyone shared his love for Italian food, Johnny Cash, and bells. Because of his outgoing nature and neighborhood perambulations, he was known locally by many as the Mayor of Oakland Beach.
Through the lens of Andrewisms, he invited us all to engage with our community as he did, with gusto. He reminded us of what matters and asked that we meet his expectations by focusing not on the clutter of our lives but instead on creating and appreciating joy-filled moments. His collection of bells numbers in the many-hundreds, and we daresay they are all ringing, as he surely has earned his wings.
Andrew leaves behind his sister, best friend and caregiver, Liana and her husband, Jody, of Warwick. He also leaves his brother, David (Trisha) of Port Ludlow, Washington; sisters Maura of Lincolnville, Maine, Megan (Pete) of Warwick and Brenna (Eric) of Westerly; stepparents Carol and Joseph of West Warwick; stepsister Karen (Greg) of North Kingstown; Uncle Ed of Cranston; Aunt Dolores of Narragansett; Uncle Peter of New Hamburg, N.Y.; and dozens of cousins, nieces, nephews and greats.
A memorial celebration of Andrew’s influence on us all will be held Friday, Aug. 23 from 4-7 p.m. in Thomas & Walter Quinn Funeral Home, 2435 Warwick Ave., Warwick. We welcome all to join the family at Thomas & Walter Quinn Funeral Home Saturday, Aug. 24 at 9 followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Rita Catholic Church, 722 Oakland Beach Ave., Warwick. Burial will be in St. Ann Cemetery, 72 Church St., Cranston, and, of course, we will enjoy a celebratory luncheon thereafter.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Andrew’s honor to Global Down Syndrome Foundation, 3239 E. 2nd Avenue, Denver, CO 80206 or online at globaldownsyndrome.org/donate. For information and condolences visit TheQuinnFuneralHome.com