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Edward James Ahearn

December 11, 2023
Edward James Ahearn
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Obituary for Edward James Ahearn

Edward James Ahearn, 86, of Providence RI passed away on December 11, 2023. He was the

husband of Michele Respaut. He was the son of the late Harry and Gertrude (Meehan) Ahearn.

Born and raised into a close-knit family in Brooklyn, NY, Ed was the oldest of 5 brothers where his innate abilities as a leader, teacher, and mentor influenced all of his siblings. From an early age, Ed showed exceptional talent academically and athletically, as well as in the arts. As a child he was an accomplished painter and won many competitions. Ed was captain and star pitcher of his baseball team. His intellectual gifts were noticed early on in life, and with his teachers’ encouragement Ed secured a full scholarship to Regis High School, traveling from far-away Brooklyn to the upper east side of Manhattan every day, doing his homework on the long train rides. He was the first person in his family to go to college, receiving a full scholarship to attend Manhattan College in New York. Ed was awarded a Woodrow Wilson scholarship and a Danforth Foundation fellowship to continue his graduate studies at Yale University, culminating in his PhD degree and studies in France. Ed graduated from Yale in 1963 and spent his 49-year academic career teaching at Brown University in both French and Comparative Literature, becoming chairman of the departments, quickly becoming a much-loved professor among students who often “fought” to take his courses and was recognized as an outstanding educator for 49 years. He was the author of four books and many articles that are still used today in his field of study. Ed adored playing tennis and was as tenacious and competitive as any Olympic athlete on the court; he loved visiting with his grandchildren and family and traveling/living in France with his beloved wife Michele.

Ed is survived by his wife Michele Respaut; his 2 children and their spouses, Edward M. Ahearn (Margie) and Sally Ahearn Effman (Gary); his step children Paul Greenlaw (Karen Boren), Brian Greenlaw; his 6 grandsons Bennett, Max, Harrison, Zachary, Samuel, Charles, and step granddaughter Chloe Greenlaw; his brothers Jack and partner Sally, Jim and wife Loraine, Henry, Maureen wife of his late brother Billy; cherished nieces, nephews, and grand nieces and nephews.

A wake will be held on Tuesday, December 19 from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Blvd, Providence. Funeral services will be held at Manning Chapel in Brown University on Wednesday, December 20 at 10:00 am, on the Brown University campus, 21 Prospect St, Providence. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made instead to the Wounded Warrior Project at this link

or to the American Heart Association here

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