In Memoriam – John Sapinsley, RIC professor emeritus

John Sapinsley
John Milton Sapinsley, RIC professor emeritus of economics who, along with his wife Lila, has been among the most generous supporters of the college, passed away on Feb. 29. He was 89.

John Sapinsley joined the RIC faculty in 1970, fulfilling a life-long ambition to teach after retiring in his mid-40s from a career as president of Carol Wire and Cable Co.

He taught at RIC for 17 years, advancing from assistant professor to associate professor, professor and Joint Council for Economic Education professor.

In 1978 he served a year as acting vice president of academic affairs.

“John was generous, intelligent, and devoted,” said RIC President Nancy Carriuolo. “He will be missed greatly at Rhode island College.”

Sapinsley was, with his wife, a member of RIC’s 1854 Society and the two have been “among the college’s most generous donors,” said Carriuolo.

Sapinsley Hall in the Nazarian Center is named in their honor.

“I will always remember John’s love for the college and his good-natured embarrassment when I would introduce a performance in Sapinsley Hall by pointing out that the hall’s namesakes were seated in our audience,” Carriuolo said.

He received a BA and MA from Brown University, where he taught economics part time until 1995.

According to his obituary, Sapinsley served during World War II in North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, and Normandy, and survived the destruction of two of his landing crafts by enemy fire. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.

He gave his time to many organizations, including Miriam Hospital, the ACLU, Roger Williams College, and the Small Business Association, among others.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four daughters, four sons-in-law, nine grandchildren and his sister. For condolences, visit

Donations in his memory may be made to Rhode Island College, 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence, R.I. 02908 or Common Cause of Rhode Island, 245 Waterman St., Suite 400A, Providence, R.I. 02906.