CRANSTON – The Honorable Edward V. Healey Jr., 88, Retired Senior Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Family Court died May 21 at the Scandinavian Home. Judge Healey was born in Providence, the first child of the late Edward V. Sr. and Margaret (McGrath) Healey. He was the husband of the late Lillian “Dolly” E. (Devlin) to whom he was married for 37 years until her death in 1987.
Judge Healey was raised in the Irish-Catholic enclave of South Providence where he was educated by the Sisters of Mercy at the former Bishop Tyler Elementary School. In 1939 at the age of 16 he graduated from La Salle Academy. He then attended Providence College on a Knights of Columbus scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in December 1942 at the age of 20. The Providence College Class of 1942 December was accelerated to graduation in three-and-a-half years due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Upon his graduation from Providence College he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
A member of America's greatest generation, Judge Healey served with distinction in the U.S. Army's 88th Infantry Division, "The Blue Devils,” and was a decorated combat veteran having served on the Italian front. Judge Healey was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery and the Combat Infantryman Badge for actively engaging the enemy in ground combat. The 88th Infantry Division was the first infantry division to enter Rome on June 4, 1944. During the period of February 27, 1944 to May 1, 1945 the 88th spent 344 days in combat sustaining over 15,000 killed, wounded or missing. Generalmajor Karl-Lothar Schulz, Commanding General of the famed German 1st Parachute Division and one of only 159 recipients of the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaf and Swords, told his interrogators, “The 88th Division is the best division we have ever fought against.” Judge Healey later served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain.
He received his J.D. in law from the Boston University School of Law and was admitted to the R.I. Bar in 1949. He began his legal career as an associate of the Christopher DelSesto Law Firm and later was a partner of Healey and Mondlick Law Firm. He served as campaign manager for Christopher DelSesto's 1956 run for governor, which was lost by a decision of the R.I. Supreme Court, the so-called “Long Count Election.” In 1958, he helped to lead DelSesto's successful campaign for the governorship. Following Gov. DelSesto's inauguration, Judge Healey served as Executive Secretary to the Governor, acting as his chief of staff. In February 1960 he was appointed an Associate Justice of the R.I. Juvenile Court at the age of 38. In 1961 he was subsequently appointed an Associate Justice of the newly formed R.I. Family Court where he served with distinction until his retirement as the Senior Associate Justice in 1988.
In 1970 he was named as a delegate to the White House Conference on Children and later served as a member of President Gerald R. Ford's National Advisory Committee on Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 1974 he was the first Rhode Island judge to be elected president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He later served on the Board of Fellows of the National Center of Juvenile Justice, as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the National Juvenile Court Foundation and as a faculty member of the National College of Juvenile Justice. In 1982 he was appointed by President Ronald W. Reagan as a member of the President's National Advisory Commission on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
He represented the United States at various international gatherings serving as the Chief Delegate of the U.S. Delegation to the Asian-Pacific Conference on Juvenile Delinquency in Seoul, Korea, and as an expert consultant to the Government of Jamaica when it formed its family court system. He also served as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Ad Hoc Meeting of Experts on Youth Crime and Justice. For nearly 20 years he served as the only American Deputy-Vice President of the International Association of Youth and Family Magistrates and Judges.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of Butler Hospital Corporation, the Cranston Boys' Club, the R.I. League for Emotionally Disturbed Children, the R.I. Association for Mental Health, the Sophia Little Home, and the R.I. Conference of Social Work. He was a Past Grand Knight of the Tyler Council – Knights of Columbus, a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of Providence, the Sons of Irish Kings and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Providence. He was also a Board Member of the Bishop Russell J. McVinney Foundation for Seminarian Education. He was a 60-year parishioner of St. Paul Church in Edgewood.
He was a recipient of the Exemplary Citizenship Award from Providence College, the Herbert Harley Award from the American Judicature Society and the Meritorious Service to Juvenile Courts of America Award from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In 1981 he was the first recipient of the Neil J. Houston Jr. Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Criminal Justice from the R.I. Justice Resource Corporation and in 2009 he was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Justice Assistance which named the award in perpetuity the Judge Edward V. Healey Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in his honor. Judge Healey was also the recipient of the Man of the Year Award from the Christian Brothers Boys' Association, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the R.I. Association of Retarded Children, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. In 1989 he received the great distinction to be inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame and in 2009 he was inducted into the La Salle Academy Hall of Fame.
He is survived by his nine children: Nancy J. of West Warwick, Kevin F. of Warwick, Edward V. and his wife, Maureen of West Greenwich, Janice M. of Warwick, Sean T. of Narragansett, Michael J. and his wife Susan of Jamestown, Christopher D. Esq. of Jamestown, Ann M. Donohue and her husband James of Ballston Lake, New York and Father Bernard A., Pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Albion. His 13 grandchildren, Jennifer St. Jean and her husband Neil, Kaitlyn, Colin, Kyle, Devlin, Sean, Ryan, Justin, Kathleen and Shannon Healey and Emily, Jillian and Margaret Donohue as well as two great-grandchildren, Victoria and Zoey St. Jean survive him. In addition to his children and grandchildren, his sister Margaret M. Foster and brother-in-law Edward of South Kingstown and his cousin Mary Selwyn of Narragansett survive him. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was the brother of the late Bernard A. Healey and Jean M. Selwyn.
A Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated May 25 at St. Paul Church, Edgewood. Burial with military honors was in St. Ann Cemetery, Cranston. Donations may be sent to St. Paul Church, One St. Paul Way, Edgewood, R.I.