WEST WARWICK — A man who resided in West Warwick for the greater half of his life, and who took pride in his community, passed away on Jan. 16 after a short-term illness.
Bruce E. Vanasse had been a graduate of West Warwick High School and Johnson and Wales University where he went on to work for the Department of Administration for more than 28 years.
“There’s no doubt that West Warwick has lost one of its great citizens,” said School Committee Chairperson Jim Williamson.
Vanasse had served as Vice Chairperson for the committee alongside Williamson. He was appointed in 2007 due to an absence and won a full seat on the School Committee in 2008.
Williamson said that working with Vanasse on the committee had been a team effort.
“He was always there, right in the middle of things, in regards to the usual budgets and contract,” he said. “He’s been the one whose been spearheading and leading the charge in the Council 94 contract.”
He also served as a member of the West Warwick Pension Board for some time and President of the Lion’s Club.
Vanasse was also active in coaching baseball, basketball and football for West Warwick High School, CYO Basketball, West Warwick Babe Ruth League, Connie Mack baseball and Exeter-West Greenwich basketball. He also served as past President of the West Warwick Little League.
“Bruce, his whole life he’s been an advocate for kids,” said Williamson. “He was always the guy who was volunteering for anything and he was always involved with kids.”
West Warwick High School boys basketball coach Richard Grenier said that Vanasse had started coaching freshman baseball in 1995. He added that he also coached baseball for the Varsity team from 1995 to 2005 with Grenier.
“The kids absolutely loved him,” he said. “He was an assistant coach on the team that won back to back state championships.”
Along with baseball, Vanasse worked as an assistant coach for the basketball team with Grenier as well.
He said that Vanasse helped coach the Junior Varsity in West Warwick from 1995 to 1996 and then moved to Exeter West Greenwich for three years to coach their team.
“When I returned to West Warwick to coach, Bruce followed,” Grenier said. “To say he was just a partner of mine for more than 10 years would be an understatement.”
Grenier said that while coaching for Exeter West Greenwich, Vanasse lead his team to win a state championship in 2000.
“He was a loyal, loyal person,” he said. “He was a hard worker and dedicated to the kids and dedicated to the friends that he coached with. He was a genuine and good person who would give everything to his friends.”