This obituary originally appeared on Memorial Funeral Home.
Emile Joseph Ferrara Jr., age 77, passed away on December 5, 2020 at the HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center from COVID-related complications. A lifelong Bristolian, Emile was a prolific artist, outdoorsman, gourmet cook and inspirational teacher to multiple generations of art students. But first and foremost, he was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend who will be remembered for his generosity of spirit and his incredible capacity for love. He is survived by his devoted wife of 35 years, Dianne, as well as three daughters and their families: Jessica (Ferrara) and Singu Srinivas and children Devin and Nora, Marcie (Hallam) Betres and son Jacob, and Jana (Hallam) and Roger Ferreira and son Mason.
Emile earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from what is now UMass Dartmouth, followed by a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Rhode Island School of Design. He taught art at Mount Hope High School for over 30 years and then at The Moses Brown School in Providence. Emile opened a world of creativity and imagination for countless students and provided encouragement and mentoring to many who went on to study and pursue art careers. His art room was known as a safe haven where students could express themselves freely, would be listened to, and would receive encouragement and validation. Students with all sorts of interests gravitated toward his art room, not just those who wanted to learn more about ceramics, drawing or painting. Students found great comfort in his demeanor – he was approachable, dependable, gentle and had a quirky sense of humor.
Emile was a prolific sculptor and painter, filling his home with beautiful artwork. He drew much of his inspiration from nature and was often happiest outdoors – hiking, hunting or foraging for mushrooms or shellfish. In every aspect of his life, he was a teacher: helping art students assemble their portfolios, showing his children and grandchildren how to identify birds by the sound of their call, how to net blue crabs, how to walk quietly in the forest, and how to make homemade pasta. Emile also enjoyed cooking. He approached cooking like he did art – with bold colors and great feeling – and always left the kitchen or studio in quite a mess. He loved to make and share meals with family and friends. He also competed and placed in several national cooking contests.
Emile was the anchor of our family – a large and steadfast presence. He instilled in us the importance of integrity, decency and respect and loved us all unconditionally. We will miss him terribly, but we are so incredibly grateful for him. He will live on through our memories, through our children and grandchildren, and also through his artwork.
A celebration of life event will be held at a future date, post-COVID. Emile battled dementia during the last decade or so of his life. His family would like to thank all those who visited or reached out to him and those who cared for him during this time. Memorial contributions may be made to the Emile J. Ferrara Scholarship Fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/emile-j-ferrara-scholarship-fund) which the family has established as a way to encourage and support Rhode Island students who are aspiring to pursue a career in art.