William A. McGrath
When you hear the name Bill McGrath, a few things might come to mind: A pair of kind eyes, an
almost reckless unselfishness, a little dog named Snickers, an obsession with Victorian furniture, a love
for all things music, or the one-liner “That's what she said.” He has been described as a “connector,” an
authentic human who felt like an old friend after just one conversation. The kind of guy who would
drop everything to run your errand if you're homebound, pick you up off the side of the road if you're
stranded, or go miles out of his way to deliver you your favorite pastry--just because.
A Cranston, RI native, Bill could often be spotted zipping around in his royal blue pickup truck,
frequenting his favorite stops—the local hardware store, pizza shop, cafe, antique shops and diners. It's
a marvel how many places one person could become a “regular”; anywhere Bill went was truly a place
where “everybody knew his name.” He recently celebrated his retirement after 30 years of employment
working in Maintenance at the RI Lottery.
Bill died on April 11, 2021 surrounded by his family after a month-long battle with COVID-19. He left
behind two children (Allison Rose Giuliano of Cranston and PO2 James William McGrath, US Navy),
a brother and sister-in-law (Gerald and Peggy McGrath of Warwick), 2 very spoiled grandchildren
(Haleigh and Nicholas) and a grandson on the way, two nephews (Gregory and Geoffrey McGrath), his
pup Snickers, and hundreds of family, friends, and acquaintances. He was the son of the late James F.
and Hope (Boyle) McGrath of Cranston.
Above all, Bill loved his family and music. He is probably most remembered for constantly pulling out
his cell phone to share photos and brag about his kids, dog, or his “Victorian room” (which essentially
was his collection of oversized Victorian furniture somehow beautifully crammed into his tiny
apartment), and for ferociously advocating for local musicians. He was the founder of Bill McGrath's
Music Series, through which he provided countless local and regional musicians a beautiful venue and
a captive audience; he specifically rooted for fledgling musicians, giving them a chance to shine. He
was a member of the RI Country Music Hall of Fame, and was formerly the Vice President of both RI
Country Horizons and the Country Music Association of RI. He was the Performance Director and a
board member at RISING, a nonprofit organization that provides education and performance
opportunities to young, aspiring musicians. If you make music in RI, you probably know Bill, and he's
probably given you a pep talk, overpaid for your CD, or booked you a gig. He rarely missed a friend's
performance, even if he was the only one in the crowd or was nodding off in the back row.
At the request of his family, immediate services will be private; however, a “Bill-worthy” memorial
and celebration with music and fellowship is in the works for later this Summer. Details TBA.
There is a gaping hole in our hearts and community without Bill's physical presence. But here are a few
suggestions to keep his legacy alive: Perform a random act of kindness, support a local musician by
purchasing a CD or attending a show, or drop an emphatic “That's what she said!” at the least
In lieu of flowers and gifts, please consider a donation to one of the following organizations near and
dear to Bill's heart: RISING, Vintage Pet Rescue, or the Alzheimer's Association RI Chapter.