Obituary: Robert Bruce Baxter, 87

by | Apr 24, 2024

He measured his life not by grand gestures but by the small, reflective, and joyful moments he shared with others

From the Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Home website

Robert Bruce Baxter, known as Bob to all who loved him, passed away peacefully on April 20, at the Green House Homes, #15, at Saint Elizabeth Community in East Greenwich.

The only child and devoted son of Francis Hess Baxter and Blanche Edna Teeple Baxter, Bob was born on November 16, 1936, and spent his formative years in Massillon, Ohio. There, he developed a work ethic by delivering the newspaper on his bicycle in the early mornings before school. Bob was a proud Ohioan who enjoyed sharing that he hailed from the town of the Massillon Football Tigers, where Paul Brown started his football dynasty.

After completing his education at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1958, Bob was brought to Rhode Island by the United States Navy. There, he was stationed in Newport and served on the USS Charles H. Roan, Destroyer. He retired as a lieutenant, and it was during his time in the Navy that Bob developed a love of travel and a desire to see the world.

Much of Bob’s career was spent at the Rhode Island Hospital Trust National Bank in Providence, Rhode Island, where he retired as a bank officer. He believed the best way to build a community was to support and invest in local, Rhode Island businesses. He rounded out his career as a financial consultant with Smith Barney in Providence. He was known as a “belt and suspenders” kind of person who believed in measured and safe decisions and also wore beautifully appointed suspenders while caring for and looking after his client’s savings and retirement investments with honor and integrity.

Bob was a former member of the Turk’s Head Club, University Club, and Wannamoisett Country Club, where lifelong friendships were made on and off the golf course. He also loved history, the United States, and genealogy and was a member of the Rhode Island chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution, Order of Founders and Patriots, and Society of Colonial Wars.

A lover of red cars, the New York Times Crossword, an avid reader, and a Midwesterner at heart, Bob always said hello to strangers when he took his daily walks. He loved gardening and admiring the annual and perennial blooms that attracted many birds, butterflies, and wildlife to his small properties.

In the spring of 2002, Bob was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer just after his retirement. After undergoing experimental treatment and surgery, Bob was given an additional 22 extra years of life. He never took those years for granted and cherished his second chance at life. During this time, Bob witnessed the growth and development of his most extraordinary gift of all, his seven grandchildren. He attended their baseball, soccer, and field hockey games, visited them on their farm, shared his childhood train set, and instilled in them a love of reading, education, and history.

Bob is survived by his beloved wife of nearly 40 years, Mary Jane “Susan” Baxter. Together, they shared a passion for traveling the world, gardening, making friends, savoring wine, and indulging in a good piece of blue cheese.

He is also survived by his five treasured children: Brook Anne Baxter of North Kingstown, Lee Robert Baxter (Lynn Gray Baxter) of Harmony, Kirby Murphy (Paula D. Rasco) of Pascoag, Kevin Kennedy Murphy (Theresa Tevyaw Murphy) of South Kingstown, and Christine Kennedy Murphy Costello (Kevin M. Costello) of Canaan, N.H. Bob was the proud grandfather to Olivia Baxter, Landon Hess Baxter, Lydia Brook Baxter, Matthew McCann Murphy, Margaret Kennedy Murphy, Abigail Rose Murphy, and Charles Landrigan Costello.

Bob measured his life not by grand gestures but by the small, reflective, and joyful moments he shared with others. He consistently showed up for those in his life and in the end, he lived a life well-lived. Kindness is what defined him. Bob’s life was made complete by quietly helping others and the love of his friends and family. Robert Bruce Baxter was a gift to all who knew and adored him. His generosity of spirit will always be remembered and live on in the hearts of those who loved him.

In lieu of flowers, and in the spirit of Bob’s commitment to service, the family suggests that contributions may be made in his memory to the Saint Elizabeth Community Philanthropy Department, 2364 Post Road, Ste. 100, Warwick, RI 02886 ( who faithfully administered Bob’s end-of-life care and where he formerly served on the Board of Directors, or to a charity of your choice.

A private family service will take place.

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EG News Obituary Policy: We post obituaries relevant to our readers. If you would like to share an obituary, send it to [email protected]. Put “obituary” in the subject line. 

Posted 4/24/24

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