WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Even at 85 years old, Artie Hewes had plans.
He couldn’t wait to return to his job of 46 years at Warwick’s Greenwood Inn, and he wanted to travel to Jamaica again as well as get in another round of golf with some of his close friends.
Before the loving father and grandfather, Providence College graduate and Korean War veteran died from complications of COVID-19, he was afforded two rare opportunities: the gifts of time and acceptance.
His daughters say Hewes was able to come to terms with the reality of the deadly virus and more importantly, as his health deteriorated, he had a brief window of time to call and say goodbye to his family, friends, and beloved “second family” at Greenwood Inn.
Many of Hewes’ coworkers got to safely visit him as he battled COVID-19 at home.
“Before he really got sick, we would drop food off outside on the shrubs, and then he would wave to us out the window,” co-owner John Papa said. “Then the last days when he really wasn’t doing so well, you’d go to the window and you would just tell him you love him, that you were special, that, you know what, we’re here for you, no matter what.”
Hewes’ daughters told Eyewitness News they realize how fortunate they were to be with their dad during his final hours.
“They meant everything to him,” Papa added. “Whenever he spoke of his kids, he just absolutely…he was a proud man.”
The Greenwood Inn has since heard from dozens and dozens of customers, and the restaurant is planning to hold a huge celebration of Hewes’ life — as soon as it’s safe to do so — to honor his dedication, decades of service, and memorable personality.
“He actually made a phone call to me and said, ‘John, thank you,'” Papa recalled. “I said, ‘Artie, I can’t do this right now, but here goes.’ I said, ‘I might’ve busted your chops a lot, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, but you are the best person I’ve ever met. You’re like a dad to me.”
While Hewes’ family grieves his loss, they are also praying for the recovery of his longtime companion Joanie, who’s hospitalized in the ICU and battling the same disease that claimed Hewes’ life.
Hewes will be laid to rest on Wednesday.