Nature 39

Henry T. Cruciani

June 29, 1936 ~ May 5, 2021 (age 84)

Obituary

CRUCIANI, Henry T., 84, of Warwick, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at Miriam Hospital in Providence.

He was the beloved husband of Martha D. (Woodbury) Cruciani, they had been married for 60 years.  Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Henry T. and Anna Rose (Davide) Cruciani.

Besides his wife, he leaves a daughter, Cindy LaFrance and her husband Paul of Coventry and a sister, Anna Pawley of Topeka, KS, and Robert Hunold of Warwick, who he was a father figure to.

Mr. Cruciani was a 1954 graduate of Lockwood School where he played football and was awarded the Thom McCann football award. He then went on to graduate from the University of Rhode Island and became a science teacher at Park View Middle School in Cranston for many years until retiring in 1990. 

Henry was proud of his Italian heritage and, through determination and practice, became an excellent self-taught cook of wonderful Italian dishes. He often read Italian cookbooks just for fun, and his approach to cooking was simple: no more than four fresh ingredients and "one of them must be garlic."

Henry's determination paid off as well when he decided he needed to learn to speak Italian. He took many Italian lessons, practiced long hours, and became fluent. His Italian was so good that, on one of his and Martha’s many trips to Italy, a native speaker asked Henry, "What part of Italy do you come from?"

Henry was highly regarded as a master carpenter and woodworker who truly enjoyed his craft and was said to "love the smell of sawdust."

Hiking, for Henry, became not just a way of getting some exercise, but a true passion. Regardless of the season, Henry climbed the highest point in 48 of the 50 states, often with Martha or one of his AMC friends. Henry also became a "peak bagger" by climbing all of New Hampshire's mountains taller than 4,000 feet.

Together, Henry and Martha hiked the 300-mile John Muir Trail in California and trekked England from coast to coast. Henry and one of his AMC friends, Jim Dowling, once hiked from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, then turned right around and hiked back to the South Rim, an incredibly grueling but rewarding accomplishment.

For many years, Henry was an active member of the Appalachian Mountain Club.  There he was able to combine his passion for hiking with his love of carpentry.  Henry was especially proud of two major projects in which he played key roles. The first was an extremely difficult trail maintenance and rebuilding project on the Ell Pond-Long Pond Trail in Hopkinton, RI. The work that needed to be done was in a nearly inaccessible portion of the trail. It was not possible to bring in a large amount of tools and lumber where it was needed. Henry was among a few AMC members instrumental in arranging for the R. I. National Guard to airlift the materials to the site by helicopter.  The project was a great success, making the trail once more usable for hikers. An added benefit was that the RI National Guard helicopter pilots enjoyed and learned from a unique training exercise.

The second major AMC project where Henry played a vital role was the construction of a 65-foot bridge over the Wood River in the Arcadia Management Area. Henry and two of his best AMC buddies, the late Roy Benoit of Warwick, and Jim Dowling of Coventry, saw a pressing need for the bridge. With it, hikers on the Mount Tom Trail would not have to get across the Wood River by walking for several hundred yards on Rhode Island Route 165, where cars and trucks often drive by at dangerous speeds.  Working with state officials, the "Three Musketeers," as they liked to call themselves, developed plans to build the bridge. The trio found a company in South Carolina that could deliver a build-it-yourself bridge kit. 

Henry, Roy and Jim devoted countless hours preparing new footings for the bridge to rest on, and actually building the bridge itself piece by piece, next to the river. When they completed the bridge, an enormous crane was brought in to lift the structure, made of steel and a long-lasting wood substitute, onto the footings. Henry, Roy and Jim had done their work so well that the bridge fit precisely on the footings, not even a fraction of an inch out of line.

In recognition of their outstanding contributions to the work of AMC's Narragansett Chapter, Henry and Martha shared the Club's highest award, "Appie of the Year," in 1997. In 2019 they were honored with its Golden Apple Award.

Henry was a selfless husband, father and friend to all.  He was so loved and will be so missed and always remembered.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 10:00 am in St. Gregory the Great Church, 360 Cowesett Road., Warwick.  Interment will be private.  Visiting hours Friday 4:00-6:00 pm in the PRATA-GALLOGLY Funeral Home, 78 Providence Street, West Warwick.  In lieu of flowers, contributions to The Nature Conservancy, Attn: Treasury, 4245 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203, in his memory would be appreciated.  Information and condolences, please visit: www.PrataGallogly.com

The funeral Mass will be livestreamed on the parish website at: www.stgregorychurchri.com    Go to website and hit the link to You Tube for funeral.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Henry T. Cruciani, please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Friday
May 14, 2021

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Prata-Gallogly Funeral Home
78 Providence Street
West Warwick, RI 02893

Mass of Christian Burial
Saturday
May 15, 2021

10:00 AM
St. Gregory the Great Church, Cowesett Ave

Private Interment

Donations

The Nature Conservancy
4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Attn: Treasury, Arlington VA 22203

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