Francis Xavier Girr, Jr. died on January 26, 2017 at the age of 86 after a long and full life. A third-generation Newporter, Frank was born on October 2, 1930 to Francis Girr and Kathryn Curry. He grew up in Middletown, RI across the street from Vernon Playground, where he spent his childhood playing baseball.

Frank attended Sheffield School, St. Joseph’s, and De La Salle Academy. He received a B.S. in Accounting from Bryant College, then worked as a teller at Newport National Bank before being drafted into the Korean War, where he served as an auditor in Japan as part of the Army’s all-accountant Fighting Finance Division.

Upon his discharge, Frank took advantage of the GI Bill to earn his B.A. in English from URI and M.A. in English from UMass. He began his teaching career at Holyoke High School, where he met his wife Mary Coffey. Frank went on to teach English at Classical High School in Springfield, MA (now Central High School) for 35 years. Frank and Mary were married for 40 years before her death in 2000.

After his wife’s death, Frank returned to Newport where he began his career as an architectural and social historian of Newport, with a focus on documenting the missing mansions. He gave talks at the Newport Art Museum, Newport Historical Society, Redwood Library, and Newport Public Library. Frank was an active member of Salve Regina University’s Circle of Scholars, teaching and taking classes regularly until his death. He was a committed advocate for preservation, supporting local organizations like the Preservation Society of Newport County and Friends of the Waterfront, and was actively involved in efforts to maintain public coastal access on Marine Avenue and to raise awareness of the neglected Belmont Chapel in Island Cemetery.

In his 86 years, Frank made the most of every opportunity life offered. He had an unquenchable curiosity and appetite for learning. A man of routine, Frank also loved to experience new things. His very dry sense of humor was a delight to many and a source of confusion for some. Frank passed his enduring love for and encyclopedic knowledge of trees and wood down to his children—especially his son. And he shared his lifelong love of reading with his daughter and beloved granddaughters.

Frank is survived by his daughter Cathy Girr, son Chris Girr and daughter-in-law Joo Rhee, granddaughters Maya and Dylan Galbreth, and nieces and nephews including Jack Girr and Cheryl (Girr) Mrozowski of Newport.

Friends and family are invited to attend a celebration of Frank’s life on Saturday, February 18 from 2-5 pm at the Young Building at Salve Regina, 518 Bellevue Avenue. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Newport Arboretum. Frank will be buried at St. Columba Cemetery in a private service.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.