JOHNSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Roland LaFlamme helped his parents build his Johnston home back in the 70s, and that’s where his family says he lived his best life.
But that life was cut short two months after he tested positive for the coronavirus. LaFlamme, the oldest of seven siblings, passed away on June 3 at the age of 76.
Known to many as “Roly,” his family tells Eyewitness News that since he didn’t get married or start a family of his own, his siblings, nieces and nephews were his everything.
“He treated his nieces and nephews like they were his kids,” said Krystal LaFlamme, whose husband is one of Roly’s nephews.
Krystal said Roly treated her as if she was one of his nieces, and her memories of him are fond.
“Very witty, very funny,” she said. “He had a great sense of humor, he was loved by all, he would take the shirt off his back for anybody.”
She said Roly spent 35 years teaching theater at Salve Regina University and was an educator in Providence for 28 years.
His passion for teaching only came second to his love for Disney.
“He was a Disney fanatic,” she said.
Hundreds of Disney-themed snow globes were on fully display in his house and he’s visited the happiest place on earth more times than his family can count.
Krystal said Roly tested positive for the coronavirus around Easter. She said he was very lethargic, and since he had type 2 diabetes, they feared for the worst.
“You always think it can’t happen to you, it’s not going to be someone in your family, but now it’s a reality,” Krystal said. “We don’t even know how he got it.”
“If we could give any money in the world to get him back we would,” she continued. “That’s how much he was loved.”
As Roly’s family begins to pack up his belongings, they tell Eyewitness News they’re excited to know that his legacy will live on through the books he’d collected over the years related to his work in theater, which they plan to donate to Salve Regina.