John Frederick Smollins

May 16, 1940 ~ November 20, 2021 (age 81)


John F. Smollins, Jr., 81, of Providence, passed away on November 20, 2021. He was the beloved husband of Georgette M. (Molenat) Smollins.

Born in Providence, John was the son of the late John F. and Catherine (Gartland) Smollins, Sr.

John graduated from the Assumption School in 1955 and LaSalle Academy in 1958.  He received a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from Providence College in 1962 and was simultaneously commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Transportation Corps of the United States Army Reserve.

After graduating from Suffolk University Law School with a Bachelors of Laws Degree in 1965, he was soon called to active duty and served as an Army Captain in the Republic of South Vietnam.  After two years of service, he returned to civilian life to practice law in Providence in August of 1967.

A past president of the Assumption Parish Catholic Youth Council, John served as a page in the Rhode Island House from 1959 to 1962 and subsequently served as Clerk of the House Finance Committee from 1962 to 1965.  His legal from clerkship was sponsored by former Governor Dennis Roberts during the summers of 1963 and 1964.  While in military service, he was admitted to the Rhode Island Bar in May of 1967, and upon separation was appointed Administrative Assistant to House Speaker John Wrenn in August 1967. In April 1969 he was appointed Administrative Assistant to Providence Mayor Joe Doorley.  In 1974, he ran against Doorley and Vincent A. Cianci as an independent candidate for Mayor.

In January of 1975, he was appointed Administrative Assistant to US Congressman Edward P. Beard.  He provided legal counsel, supervised the Congressional staff, serviced constituents and advised on policy matters in Washington, DC.

From July 1981 to 1999, John served as Legal Services Developer Attorney at the Rhode Island Department of Elderly Affairs to facilitate access to legal counsel for older Rhode Islanders.  In 1999 his title was changed to legal counsel as he inherited additional duties and services on numerous commissions and task forces.  He often spoke at senior advocacy meetings on legal issues and was a frequent guest on Senior Journal, a television program for elders and their families.  From 1993 to 1999, he served as the DEA Liaison to the Silver Haired Legislature, an advocacy model of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He retired from state service in 2006.

John was a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association, and the alumni associations of LaSalle Academy, Providence College and Suffolk University. 

He was an avid sports enthusiast who enjoyed playing basketball at Elmhurst Park.  After coaching Babe Ruth Baseball for several years, he was inducted into the Providence Recreation Hall of Fame in 1992.  His Frey Florist team won the Providence Babe Ruth championships in 1989 and 1990.

Besides his wife of 49 years, he is survived by a son, John-Pierre “J.P.” Smollins of Providence, who is a Sports Reporter for WPRI/WNAC-TV.

John’s funeral will be held Thursday, at 8:45 am, from the Russell J. Boyle & Son Funeral Home, 331 Smith Street, Providence. Mass of Christian Burial at 10 am in Saint Augustine Church, 639 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Providence. Burial to follow in the Rhode Island Veteran’s Cemetery, Exeter. Visiting hours Wednesday, 5 – 8 pm.                           

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John, please visit our floral store.


December 1, 2021

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Russell J. Boyle and Son Funeral Home
331 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02908

December 2, 2021

8:45 AM
Russell J. Boyle and Son Funeral Home
331 Smith Street
Providence, RI 02908

Mass of Christian Burial
December 2, 2021

10:00 AM
Saint Augustine Church
639 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908

December 2, 2021

12:00 PM
Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Rhode Island, Exeter

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