Portsmouth Native, Longtime Bristol Resident Dies at 95
- Deceased's name: Benjamin Earl Anthony Jr.
Benjamin Earl Anthony, Jr., age 95, a long time resident of Bristol, RI and most recently Portsmouth, RI, died in Newport Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010 of complications from congestive heart failure.
Mr. Anthony was the only son of Benjamin Earl Anthony Sr. and Lillias Louisa Sophia Preble Anthony of Portsmouth. Born on Aug. 28, 1915 in Portsmouth on the family homestead on West Main Road, he was a descendant of one of Aquidneck Island's founding families. As a young boy he grew up attending the John Clarke School and in his free time trapped raccoons, muskrats and rabbits to earn his spending money. Later he graduated from Rogers High School class of 1933 and was know as, "A quiet boy from the country who has many friends and goes in a big way for a girl on the East Main Road." Mr. Anthony graduated from Bryant College in 1936 with a Degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Shortly after graduation in 1936, he went to work for the Automobile Mutual Insurance Company of America, where he worked for 40 years retiring in 1979. His work was interrupted by World War II where he rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Army Air Corp serving as an intelligence officer in the European Theater. As a captain in July of 1944, his 8th Air Force Flying Fortress crew executed a daring low altitude arms and munitions drop to French Partisans behind enemy lines. A Providence Journal story recounting the incident quoted Mr. Anthony as saying, "I could almost see the color of the Marquis eyes. The French waved flags, handkerchiefs, hoes, pitchforks and anything they could get their hands on, as we dropped them arms to replace what they had lost in battles with the Panzers."
On Sept. 12, 1947, he married Irene Elizabeth Eckert of Plymouth, MA. They settled in Bristol, RI, raising two sons. Having been brought up on a Portsmouth farm, Mr. Anthony was an avid gardener. Early on he also raised and showed award-winning Irish Setters. After retirement, Earl and Irene travelled annually to Hawaii, developing life-long friendships with other "snow birds" from around the country, and entertaining their Bristol friends there.
The Anthonys were long time members and supporters of The First Congregational Church in Bristol, where Mr. Anthony served on the board of trustees. Mr. Anthony was also a treasurer of Bristol Yacht Club, member of the board of trustees of the American Lung Association of RI, member of the board of Trustees of the Providence Country Day School, on the board of District Nursing and on the board of the Seaman's Church Institute of Newport and later Boston. He was a long-time supporter of the Bristol Animal Shelter, and was also a member of The Players of Providence, The Herreshoff Museum in Bristol and The Newport Yacht Club.
Mr. Anthony is survived by his wife Irene Anthony of Portsmouth, sons Jeffrey E. of Portsmouth, RI, and Gregory E. of Winchester, MA, daughters in-law Stasia and Julianna, as well as his two grandchildren Brittany and Benjamin. Memorial donations may be sent to The Seaman's Church Institute of Newport, 18 Market Square, Newport, RI, 02840, or the First Congregational Church of Bristol, 281 High Street, Bristol, RI 02809.
A private graveside memorial is planned for Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 with a reception for friends and family to follow. For information regarding the reception, please contact the funeral home at 401-846-0698.