Obituary: Robert L. Houghtaling 69

by | Dec 13, 2023

He enjoyed meeting with people over pizza or a cup of coffee and preferred in-person contact over email and texts

Robert L. Houghtaling 69, of Warwick, passed away from a brief illness on Dec. 8, surrounded by his loving family. Bob was the beloved husband of Elaine Arts to whom he was married for 12 years. 

Born in Warwick, on July 10, 1954, in Kent County Memorial Hospital, Bob was the son of the late Robert W. and Dorothy (Babcock) Houghtaling. He grew up in Warwick and attended public schools, including Lakewood Elementary School, Holliman Elementary School, and Aldrich Junior High School. Bob graduated from Pilgrim High School in 1972 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and history from Rhode Island College and a master’s degree from Providence College.   

After high school, Bob worked for a number of human service organizations such as The Trudeau Center, St. Aloysius Home, and Ocean Tides. He developed a passion for mental health issues and counseling by working with people from all walks of life. In 1983, Bob found his calling when the Town of East Greenwich asked him to lead its new drug program.  For four decades, Bob worked for and with the Town of East Greenwich as its Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Services.  

In addition to his work for the town, Bob was active in many other areas and organizations.  Bob organized and ran The Teen Center, a place where teens could get together, have fun, and stay safe. For several decades, Bob led Youth-to-Youth Conferences in Rhode Island, encouraging teenagers to live drug-free lives. He served as an Exeter-West Greenwich School Committee member.

From a young age, Bob loved to run, play basketball and tennis, watch movies, read history books, and spend time with family and friends. He enjoyed meeting with people over pizza or a cup of coffee and preferred in-person contact over email and texts. Bob will be greatly missed and always remembered for the love he had for his family, friends, and community.  

Bob was the loving father of Nicole Anselmo and husband Kevin Anselmo of Sarasota, Fla.; Alexander Houghtaling of Warwick; and the late Dwight Arts Furey of Warwick. He was the devoted grandfather of Luca and Xavier Anselmo. Bob is also survived by his mother Dorothy Houghtaling of Warwick, sister Elaine M. Cate of Warwick (wife of the late Peter E. Cate) as well as numerous nieces and nephews.  

Bob’s relatives and friends are invited to visiting hours on Monday, Dec. 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. in The Butterfield Chapel, 500 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston. A Funeral and Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 99 Peirce Street, East Greenwich. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the East Greenwich Academy Foundation, 98 Pitman Road, Warwick, RI 02886. 

As Bob would say, “Always look on the bright side of life.”  

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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 12/13/23

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Nancy Rogers
Nancy Rogers
December 13, 2023 6:05 pm

He was truly one of a kind and the youth and families have been blessed to have known him my children would go to teen center and also youth to youth my condolences go out to his family sending them hugs and prayers at this time God Bless we will truly miss you but I know your legacy will live on through the youth of East Greenwich

Beth Rocchio Candow
Beth Rocchio Candow
December 14, 2023 11:46 am

I hope it is ok to post this poem I wrote about Bob.


To our town he brought some security. He did it with presence, passion & poetry

An understatement to say he was a better poet than I, it feels fitting to at least try

Bob used his life to heal others strife 

We met at a wellness meeting and he said, “read Man’s Search for Meaning”

He said he was happy to meet me then quoted Nietzsche 

When we were in a fuss he was there for us 

He didn’t speak from above, but humbled himself with love 

Of how to be in life he was an example; we were blessed to have even a sample 

Sitting with my grief, aware of what we’ve been robbed, I realize what I need is someone like Bob 

He will be profoundly missed, inspiring us to lead lives of service 

Elizabeth McNamara
December 14, 2023 1:17 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Beth!

Beth Rocchio Candow
Beth Rocchio Candow
December 14, 2023 2:08 pm

You’re so welcome.

Felicia Revens
Felicia Revens
December 15, 2023 10:08 am

I’m so sorry I will not be able to attend the service for this special man as I am out of town.
if I can rephrase what I wrote on Felicia’s Coffee’s page……
I am very grateful for the gift of having Bob at Felicia’s Coffee every morning for years.
He was a beautiful soul that brought a smile and hope to so many with his caring and gentle words. 
This town will be forever changed with this loss. 
To all of whom he helped in the struggles of life please continue on the path that you walked with him and keep his light with you to lead the way in the wake of your loss.
I will miss seeing him, his smile and positive vibe.
With sincere condolences to Elaine, Nicole, Alex, his many friends, and our whole community, 

Felicia Revens


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