Robert J. Healey, Jr., “Cool Moose”, of 75 Sowams Road, Barrington, died unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep on March 20, 2016. He was the only son of Robert J. and Mary J. (Martinelli) Healey of Warren.
During his life, Bob was involved in varied projects spanning public service, law, education, and business.
A graduate of Warren High School, Rhode Island College, Boston University, Northeastern University, New England School of Law, he also completed all the coursework towards a PhD from Columbia University. He studied International Trade and Japanese Law in Tokyo.
Bob began his educational career as a teacher at the private Trillium School in Jacksonville, Oregon and later as a substitute teacher in Boston and Warren Public schools, plus Northeastern University. He was elected to the Warren School Committee in 1982 and served four years as the committee’s chair.
In 1986 Bob founded the Cool Moose Party, a Rhode Island political party, and ran for Governor under its banner. The party subsequently received state recognized status when Healey received almost 10% of the gubernatorial vote in 1994. Bob ran again in 1998 and served as the party’s chair from 1994 to 1997.
Bob later set his sights on the office of Lt. Governor, an office that he viewed with disdain and campaigned to abolish. He ran for that office in 2002, 2006, and 2010. The 2010 campaign was his most successful in that he received almost 40% of the vote and won the most votes of any independent candidate in Rhode Island history. In 2014, he again ran for Governor under the Moderate Party and obtained 22% of the vote.
Bob was a practicing attorney with a penchant for providing pro bono and low cost legal representation. He was the attorney for several cases decided by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
He was a member of the Rhode Island Bar and licensed to practice before Rhode Island courts, the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the U.S. Tax Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the Secretary of the Bristol County Bar Association for more than 20 years.
As a businessman, Bob was involved in several ventures, with a mix of success and failure. His failures include a yacht provisioning service, an ice cream company, a consulting firm on Asian business practices, a graphics studio, a Uraguayan liquor importing business and more. His successes included a liquor wholesale company, a line of Cool Moose wine, a South American land development partnership, and The Cheese Plate in Warren.
Never at a loss for an idea, Bob left behind several potential ventures that he had neither the time nor money to explore, from a water company to a religious hall of fame.
Bob served on several boards and committees, including the Bristol-Warren Regionalization Committee, the Chariho De-regionalization Committee, Volunteers for the Protection of Animals, and several others. He was the first Commodore of the Warren Yacht Club.
Known to many and close friend to few, he remained an avid cigar smoking, crossword puzzle fan, who cared little about his personal appearance or his personal trappings, often seen unkempt in a small beat-up car. In an unabashed manner, Bob did what he wanted, largely oblivious to what others’ thought – a virtue as well as a foible.
Living by a motto of “You’re not giving if it doesn’t hurt”, Bob frequently lived on the edge of financial disaster. He met his goal of having given away over $1 million dollars quietly helping people through providing legal services, cash or other assistance. At one point in his life, he was close to being a multi-millionaire. At other times he was close to being bankrupt. Rich or poor, he never considered a haircut.
Bob had no children and is survived by his longtime companion Claire, his aunt Leonora Seymour, several cousins, his Scrabble-buddy, Greg Rufo and several close friends.
Visitation will be held on Monday, March 28, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Wilbur-Romano Funeral Home, 615 Main Street, Warren, RI. His funeral service and burial will be private. Contributions may be made in his memory to the charity of your choice. For information and condolences, www.wilbur-romano.com