Newport’s James Leach among 9 to be inducted into RI Heritage Hall of Fame

The Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame today announced the selection of Newport’s James Leach and eight other prominent Rhode Islanders for membership in the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

According to Board president and 1995 inductee, Dr. Patrick T. Conley–the Hall of Fame, consisting of illustrious Rhode Islanders from Roger Williams and the chief sachems of the Narragansett and the Wampanoag tribes to the present–was created in 1965 to honor “any individual who has brought credit to Rhode Island, brought Rhode Island into prominence, and contributed to the history and heritage of the state.”  Such individuals, said Conley, must have been born in Rhode Island, lived, studied, or worked in Rhode Island for a significant time, or made his or her reputation here.

This year’s annual induction ceremony–the 56th–will take place on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at The Crowne Plaza in Warwick.  A 5:30 p.m. social hour will be followed by a 6:15 p.m. dinner, entertainment, and the induction ceremony.

Board Vice President, Albert Beauparlant and Director Michael Lyons are event and dinner chairmen, and Director Steve Aveson is Master of Ceremonies.  The Rhode Island Highlanders Pipe Band and the Pawtuxet Rangers Fife and Drum Corps will open the evening’s program followed by an invocation by Reverend Eugene McKenna and an address delivered by Dr. Conley.  Dinner music will be provided by an array of well-known local musicians.

The Inductee Class of 2021 (listed alphabetically) with their inductors (who are Hall of Fame Inductees or Directors) is as follows:  

Charles Butler

Pioneer Black athlete who starred on several local integrated amateur and semi-professional championship baseball teams in the late 1940s in the manner of Jackie Robinson.

Inducted by Lawrence Reid (Director)

Timothy “Tim” Gray

A national award-winning documentary film director, producer, and writer especially for PBS, and founder of the prestigious World War II Foundation.

Inducted by Albert Beauparlant (Vice President)

James H. Leach

Major real estate developer and chairman of numerous public and private boards including the Rhode Island PBS Foundation where he is chairman emeritus.

Inducted by Kenneth Dooley (Director, and 2018 Inductee)

Ambassador William P. McCormick

U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, co-founder of the 93-restaurant chain McCormick & Schmick’s, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

Inducted by Dr. Patrick T. Conley (President, and 1995 Inductee)

John M. Murphy, Sr.

Leader of the Home Loan Investment Bank, financier, public official, civic leader, philanthropist, and humanitarian.

Inducted by Dr. Scott Molloy (Director, 2009 Inductee)

Elizabeth Morancy

Strong advocate for social change and justice, first as a religious sister, then as a state representative, and finally as a director of several important humanitarian organizations.

Inducted by Arlene Violet (1996 Inductee)

Dr. William Oh

Nationally prominent pioneer and researcher in the field of neonatal medicine, teacher, and author of 443 peer-reviewed studies in pediatrics, most in his specialty—Neonatal Intensive Care.

Inducted by Dr. Betty Vohr (2016 Inductee)

William “Bill” Reynolds

Prolific columnist and sports writer for the Providence Journal, star athlete, and author of several highly-regarded books on local sports, especially basketball.

Inducted by Mike Lyons (Director)

Louis Yip

The major Blackstone Valley real estate developer, prominent restaurateur, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

Inductee Dr. Robert Billington (2016 Inductee)


The donation to the Heritage Hall of Fame for the dinner event is $85.00.

The Rhode Island general public is urged to attend to pay tribute to their distinguished fellow citizens. Tickets can be ordered online at: or by calling (401) 273-1787, Susan Gorniewicz, Executive Director, tickets must be purchased in advance by October 15, 2021.

Friends, colleagues, and admirers of specific honorees are urged to attend.  They should give the ticket agent information concerning their specific honoree in order to be seated near that inductee. 

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