William E. "Billy" Hassell 66, of Riverside, died peacefully at Rhode Island Hospital, surrounded by his loving family. He fought very hard against the odds, a courageous battle with lung and heart disease. He was the beloved husband of Marilyn (Ricci) Hassell, together for 52 years.
Born in Providence, a son of the late Charles W. Sr. and Elizabeth (Walmsley) Hassell, he was a lifelong resident of Riverside.
Mr. Hassell was a master of all trades. He was a mechanic for Hassell’s Garage, a welder for Fruehauf Trailers, and a maintenance man for East Providence School Department before retiring.
One of Billy’s greatest loves in life was singing. He was always asked by Broadway professionals, friends, and teachers why he never went pro. The answer was simply that the only thing he loved more than singing was his family. At a young age, Billy first started singing in St. Mary’s church choir. In high school, he was a member of the Crimson Boys choir, where he became Student Conductor second to Tenor section head. They were All State, All New England. He later joined the East Providence Community Chorus, where he was a longtime member and sang solos a cappella. Although he looked more like Jesus and usually sang as tenor, he shocked everyone by performing as Caiaphas in “Jesus Christ Superstar” with the Bristol Cabaret and A2Z Theatrical with Broadway professionals. Billy was asked many times to sing with the band when he went to clubs with his daughter, Jackie. He was also requested to sing at every family wedding, where he often sang “New York, New York.”
As a kid, Billy played baseball in Riverside Little League. As an adult, he played softball for St. Mary’s, which was known to be quite rowdy for a church league. Billy then began coaching his son Danny in Riverside Little League, and he continued to coach for all the boys that he loved for either being related or being the children of dear friends. Many of these boys later went on to share Billy’s words with their own sons, so the saga continues. He also bowled for St. Mary’s church league at the East Providence Bowling Academy. He enjoyed playing volleyball at his family cookouts. To say he was passionate about local sports would be an understatement. Billy was known to run in the street when his team won.
Affectionately known as “Billy the Pirate” from his family’s ancestry deriving from Saba Island in the Dutch West Indies, he became a family historian and was very proud to be a descendant of Captain Morgan. He vacationed in New Hampshire every year and often went with friends to Dover, DE to see NASCAR races. He loved The Three Stooges, Frank Zappa, The Beatles, and Jesus Christ Superstar. He was even friended by Ted Neeley, who personally called him when he heard of Billy’s prognosis. Billy’s one wish was to live long enough to see a new President. He got that wish.
Billy Hassell was the sweetest tough guy that anyone could meet. He was a protector who would always stand up for his family, his friends, and anyone who needed his help. He was a true legend.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Jacquelyn M. Hassell, and his son, Daniel J. Hassell, both of Riverside. He leaves one brother, Charles W. Hassell Jr. of Barrington, his sister Nancy Carrier of Riverside, his grandchildren Collin McCormick and Christa McCormick, as well as many nieces and nephews and countless cousins from Rhode Island to Saba Island. He was also the father of the late Brandi M. Hassell and the brother of the late David O. Hassell. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to American Cancer Society RI Chapter, 931 Jefferson Blvd. Suite 3004 Warwick, RI 02886.