Cover photo for Brian C. Pelletier's Obituary
Brian C. Pelletier Profile Photo
1941 Brian 2023

Brian C. Pelletier

June 20, 1941 — March 25, 2023

Brian C. Pelletier, age 81 of Newport RI, died unexpectedly on March 25, 2023. He was born in Newport on June 20, 1941, the son of the late Adolf "Joe" and Mary (Drogue) Pelletier. He leaves his wife of 40 years, Annette Doherty Pelletier.

In addition to his wife, he leaves his two younger brothers, Peter (Pam) Pelletier and Philip Pelletier, and his sister-in-law, Pat Doherty. He also leaves his nieces, Sarah (Adam) Townsend, Alexis Margreiter, Amy (Sam) Hainer, a nephew, Jonathan (Lisa) Pelletier, and five grandnieces and two grandnephews. He was pre-deceased by his sister-in-law, Sharon (Philip) Pelletier.

Brian grew up in the family home on Admiral Kalbfus Road, attended Mumford School, and was a 1959 graduate of De La Salle Academy. He earned a BA from Southeastern Massachusetts University in 1964, and two Masters of Fine Arts from RI School of Design, the first in Art Education in 1966, and the second in Fine Art Photography in 1968.

He taught for several years at RISD as an instructor and assistant professor. His photography work was exhibited in numerous galleries, schools, and museums as far away as Chicago, Houston, and Ontario Canada and several in Europe. His works won awards, appeared in many art publications, and are included in both public and private collections locally and throughout the country. He also collected marine art and still life and found a life-long joy in all art forms - such as vintage toys and model trains, military vehicles and memorabilia, historic restoration, landscape gardening, masonry, stonework, antique automobiles, and more.

Brian was the quintessential renaissance man with wide-ranging interests, talent, skills, and knowledge - which he often translated into practical application in his own life and in his community. He was a constant learner and generously shared his knowledge and expertise throughout his life.

For example, a long-time enthusiast of antique model trains and vintage toys, Brian was also known for his meticulous layouts, often creating local displays for the enjoyment of all. These included a toy fire engine exhibit at Station 5, and numerous toy train and toy fire engine exhibits at the Newport Historical Society at the holidays. He was a member of the Toy Trains Collector's Association and the National Railroad Foundation.

He collected military memorabilia to include vehicles, uniforms, helmets, maps, decorations, and insignia from WWI and WWII. Before donating his collections to various museums, he first found opportunities to share them by exhibiting at the Naval War College and other local venues. He was a member of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, both the RI and the NE Military Vehicle Collectors Clubs, Newport Artillery Company, Fort Adams Foundation, and the Quonset Air Museum.

Through his interest and expertise in historic restoration he found opportunities to benefit his community. For example, he was instrumental in the restoration and dedication of the Liberty Square mustering ground (circa 1700) on the occasion of Newport's 350th birthday.

As a member of the Bellevue Avenue Restoration Commission, he chose the materials for the pavement and the sidewalks after extensive research. He doggedly tracked down the molds for Newport's original Bellevue Avenue lights. The city was thus able to recreate the historically correct lamps.

Brian always loved the glow of the city's gas lamps on Pelham, Mill, Thames, and Farewell Streets, the Point, and elsewhere. He made it his mission to regularly restore, repair, and paint these lamps. He performed this task for the city originally for a small stipend that rarely covered the ongoing costs; he often donated his own funds to the effort. Eventually his work came to the attention of Mrs. Noreen Drexell who championed support through a grant from the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust. Brian maintained these lamps for 15 years, making sure that every lamp was lit throughout the year, particularly at Christmas. He was a member and chair of the Historic District Commission, the Newport Historical Society, and a five-term past president of the Newport Historic Hill Association.

He further translated his knowledge of architecture and building history into his own construction and restoration company; his many competencies included carpentry, plumbing, masonry, brickwork and stonework. His works were meticulous and accurate historical restorations, which can be seen at the Bailey-Allen-Hazard House 1809, the Peckham-Ramlose House 1845, the Col. William B. Swan House 1838, and the Stevens-Newman House 1880.

A prolific gardener and landscaper, Brian won awards from the Newport Horticultural Society for garden and landscape designs beginning at the tender age of 7. He spent many contented hours in his own gardens sometimes as late as midnight. He collected and restored several vintage automobiles and won prizes in various motor car festivals, including two national awards for Model A restorations at the age of 16. He was proud of his family and history and was a member of the Irish Heritage Commission - and worked to restore the original St. Joseph's cemetery on Mt. Vernon Street. These were the gravesites of the Irish immigrants who built Fort Adams.
He absolutely adored all of his many dogs, which ran the gamut from a mongrel street dog to a Coton du Tulear -and all animals in general. His kind heart led him to once rescue an injured field mouse, drive a goldfish to the marine fisheries department at URI, and he often brought lost dogs and cats to the Potter League. In fact, he kept an extra leash in his car, just for that purpose. Both he and Annette were instrumental in raising funds for the new Potter League for Animals and were never without the company of as many as three dogs at a time in their home.

It seems that Brian left no stone unturned in his quest for excellence as he never did anything halfway as an artist, educator, photographer, collector, gardener, builder, and lover of all things "Newport". More importantly he was a loving husband, brother, and uncle. He was endlessly interesting and interested in everything and everyone. He was never bored - or boring - looking forward to every day as a new adventure. Brian was a wonderful friend, always willing to lend an ear, a hand, a tool, or some excellent advice. He was vour favorite neighbor, friendly and helpful, quiet and considerate. He was a kind and generous landlord and many of his tenants became lifelong friends. Even better, he and Annette met on the day she moved in to one of the apartments. Brian treated her to dinner that very evening - and this year was to be their 40th anniversary.

Not that it is possible to capture the essence of a person in just a few sentences, but we will attempt it anyway:
Brian was opinionated, single-minded and passionate - and stood fast against the nay-sayers. He was an old soul, born out of place and out of time, and yet exactly where he needed to be. His heart was loving and generous. Those who knew him well were simultaneously bemused and blessed and grateful.

Calling hours will be held on Monday, April 10th from 5:00-8:00 PM at Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport RI with a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, April 11th at 10:00 AM at St. Barnabas Church, 1697 East Main Road, Portsmouth RI.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to Potter League for Animals, 87 Oliphant Lane, Middletown RI, would be greatly appreciated.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Brian C. Pelletier, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Monday, April 10, 2023

5:00 - 8:00 pm

Memorial Funeral Home

375 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840

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Service

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am

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