PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Louis A. Fazzano, a prominent Rhode Island business and civic leader who served as president of both Rhode Island Hospital and the Rhode Island School of Design, has died. He was 98.
Fazzano’s death was confirmed by his daughter, Mary Louise Fazzano.
Fazzano came to Rhode Island in 1946 and led the Imperial Knife Co. for nearly four decades. He served as the state’s director of economic development in the 1980s under Gov. Ed DiPrete, and was credited with leading a financial turnaround at Rhode Island Hospital after becoming its president in 1989. He was later interim president of RISD, as well.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Fazzano’s passing.
“Rhode Island has lost a great business and community leader and I have lost a dear friend,” Reed said in a statement. “Lou was committed to public service and uplifting others. He gave generously of his time, talent, and resources to make Rhode Island a better place for all.”
Fazzano played a key role in the creation of what is now the Lifespan health system, Rhode Island’s largest private employer, by initiating negotiations that led to the mergers of Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital. He was a trustee of Lifespan-owned Newport Hospital for years.
Lifespan President and CEO Dr. Timothy Babineau said he and others there who knew Fazzano “will dearly miss his kindness, quiet dignity and unsurpassed leadership.”
“Lifespan is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a very dear friend and irreplaceable supporter,” Babineau said in a statement. “Over more than three decades, Lou worked tirelessly to improve Rhode Island’s health care system.”
Fazzano graduated from Cranston High School and Yale University, and also served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He served on the boards of Citizens Bank and The Outlet Co. as well as organizations including the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, the Wheeler School, the Narragansett Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Preservation Society of Newport, the Rhode Island Commodores, the Hope Club, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
Fazzano was predeceased by his wife of more than 50 years, Judith Grimes Fazzano. He is survived by his son, Nicholas Grimes Fazzano, and two daughters, Jody Rutledge Fazzano and Mary Louise Dickinson Fazzano, as well as their spouses and children.
Visiting hours will be held Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home in Providence. A funeral Mass will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Church on Hope Street, followed by burial at Swan Point Cemetery.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook