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URI music instructor passes away after year-long battle with cancer

By Shawn Saiya
On March 21, 2012

  • Ron “Sticks” Stabile, who passed away yesterday, playing the marimba. Photo courtesy of URI Music Department Facebook


The University of Rhode Island lost a long-serving faculty member yesterday morning with the passing of Ron "Sticks" Stabile. He was 58.

Stabile, who had been a percussion instructor in the music department since 1987, passed away after losing his year-long battle with lung cancer. Stabile had been on leave with URI since the start of the fall semester while dealing with the disease.

"He's going to be missed," music department chair Joe Parillo said. "He had a major impact on music education in the state of Rhode Island. For 30 years he's been involved in the Rhode Island Music Educators Association and his teaching and the number of people that his musical life has affected is pretty massive. Lots of people."

Stabile was an instructor at Archie R. Cole Middle School in East Greenwich for 30 years, according to Parillo. He had also instructed at Providence College and Salve Regina University.

Along with teaching, he was also the director of the URI Percussion Ensemble and worked in coordination with the URI Concert Band and Wind Ensemble for concerts.

He was also involved with the Chorus of Westerly with his URI colleague, Professor George Kent.

Up until this year, Stabile had been the coordinator of the Rhode Island Percussive Arts Society Festival, which is composed of middle and high school percussion groups from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Stabile graduated from Rhode Island College in 1970 with a music degree. The Cranston native was enrolled alongside Parillo at RIC where the two began to develop their long friendship.

"He could balance having a lot of fun and getting really serious about the music and really working at it," Parillo said. "[He did] really serious percussion ensemble pieces like Bartok . . . but then he did percussion ensemble pieces like 'Me Tarzan.'"

Professor Gene Pollart worked alongside Stabile for several years and knew him well. Pollart described Stabile as a physical person, stating that he had a black belt in karate and was an avid runner who kept himself in great shape. Pollart also described Stabile as a "little guy."

"He'd go to places like Kohl's and instead of the men's department, he'd go to the boy's department to buy his clothes because men's clothes didn't fit [him]," Pollart said jokingly.

After he came to URI, Satabile took lessons from Pollart for many years while he worked on his master's degree.

"He was a really phenomenal player, so we did a lot of playing together," Pollart said.

Stabile and Pollart also played together for several years at "The Tent" in Warwick, a former summer performing arts venue on Route 2, while it was still standing. The two also performed together for the Providence Opera Company.

"The whole percussion thing [here at URI] really grew under his leadership and some of the kids here came because of him," Pollart said. "Not only did they love him, they idolized him."

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