via O’Neill Hayes Funeral Home

Christopher E. (Chris) Emerson, 52, of North Kingstown, passed away on June 8, 2021, after a valiant and courageous fight for his mental health. He leaves behind a heartbroken wife of 25 years, Colleen Kelly Emerson, their two children, Matthew Christopher and Cailin Elizabeth, and his dear companion, Ruby.

A native of Newport, Chris was a 1987 graduate of Rogers High School. He pursued his dream of serving the United States Coast Guard before he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice from Salve Regina in 1996. Chris served the community of North Kingstown as member of the police department, beginning as a patrol officer in 1991 and retiring as detective lieutenant after 26 years of service in 2017. Even during his retirement, he continued to serve the Town of North Kingstown as the IT consultant for the police department. An early pioneer of information technology and systems in law enforcement, he was a fierce advocate for protecting youth from crimes on the internet. Throughout his law enforcement career, Chris earned numerous letters of commendation and Officer of the Year by the Rotary Club of North Kingstown in 1999.

In his retirement, Chris spent time capturing the beauty of life through the lens of his camera. When not taking pictures of the Providence Bruins or along the Rhode Island shores, Chris could be found driving in his truck with his four-legged companions, catching the sunrise, heckling the waitresses at the 99 Restaurant, or sitting on the porch of Hazard’s Beach. The family apologizes to the owners of Jitters Cafe for the drastic drop in revenue they will now experience.

Loyal and generous to a fault, Chris lived by the motto that you should treat the janitor with the same respect you offer the CEO.

Chris also leaves his parents, Bill and Audrey Emerson; his sister, Marion and brother-in-law Patrick; his mother-in-law, Joan Crowley Kelly; his sisters-in-law Karen Kelly Downes and Kristin Kelly Stahl, their husbands, Dave Downes and John Stahl; his nieces Julia Downes, Mary Murphy Walsh and Kathleen Emerson; and his nephews John Downes, Dylan and Patrick Stahl, Padraig and Niall Walsh and Jonathan Emerson.   

Chris was predeceased in death by his father-in-law, Tom Kelly; his brother, David; and his best friend, Matt Houlihan. He joins his four-legged best friends, Molly, Drake, Bella, and Brody, who crossed the rainbow bridge in the sky, and are looking forward to long rides with their favorite companion again.

Calling hours will be Monday, June 14 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport. A Mass of Christian Burial will be Tuesday, June 15 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church, Spring Street, Newport. Burial will follow at St. Columba Cemetery, 465 Brown’s Lane, Middletown.  

The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the North Kingstown Police Department and the Rhode Island State Police. Memorial donations may be made to the Thomas G. Cavanagh Memorial Fund, 25 Nathaniel Greene Drive, Warwick, RI 02818.

In Chris’ honor, please remember to be kind, always. It’s ok to not be ok. And help is always available.

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