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Arthur & Patricia Audette

Remembering Their Daughter, Danielle Rose Audette, and Making a Difference to Others

Arthur Audette is good with numbers. His recall of dates is especially impressive. His first date with Patricia, who would later become his wife, was May 23, 1971. The two married on September 23, 1978, and the couple’s only child, Danielle Rose, was born on July 25, 1980.

On November 29, 2009, Danielle passed away unexpectedly due to complications from lupus. There is no joy in remembering that date. But there is great joy in remembering the kind, quiet and resilient young woman who was a hardworking student in URI’s College of Business. Therefore, to pay tribute to their only child and to make scholarships available to other students pursuing their dreams at URI, Arthur and Patricia Audette created the Danielle Rose Audette Memorial Scholarship.

Danielle was a student at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., when she began to feel ill, but she passed it off as nothing to be concerned about since medical tests were inconclusive. However, her illness forced Danielle to leave Bryant in her second year. After taking a two-year break, she began to feel a bit better, enrolling at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) in Warwick, R.I., and earning an associate’s degree in business. The following fall she was accepted at URI and was looking forward to earning her bachelor’s in business administration.

While studying at URI, Danielle’s illness continued to progress. Doctors finally pinpointed the cause of her growing number of symptoms during her hospitalization in August 2009. She was suffering from lupus. This difficult-to-diagnose, systemic autoimmune disease can affect every area of the body, and the symptoms differ for each patient.

Says Patricia, reflecting on the scores of people at Danielle’s funeral service, “As a parent, you think you know your child pretty well, but we were overwhelmed with the stories about our daughter that we didn’t know anything about.”

Time and again, people of all ages told the Audettes how Danielle had taken them or their loved one under her wing. The setting could be school or work. No matter. Danielle Rose Audette approached others with kindness, generosity of spirit and encouragement.

“More than one person told us that Danielle had been their angel in life,” Arthur says. “She loved helping other people. She didn’t like the limelight and wanted to be in the background.”

Arthur and Patricia retired more than a decade ago from their 30-plus years with the City of Warwick. They have a tidy home with an aboveground swimming pool in the backyard and a lovely flower garden installed in remembrance of Danielle Rose. Wealthy, the Audettes are not. Thrifty and disciplined, they are. Yet, they say that they never wanted for anything, and now that they have provided for a modestly comfortable retirement, they want to do something for others in memory of Danielle.

“Losing a child is the most devastating thing that can happen to a parent,” says Patricia. “We want to turn our tragedy into an opportunity for someone who could use some extra financial help to go to college.”

Pictured, left to right: COBA development officer Jill T. Nosach, Patricia Audette, COBA Dean Mark Higgins, Arthur Audette (holding photo of Danielle).