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Arthur J. "Bucky" WalshAugust 6, 1926 ~ April 19, 2017 (age 90)
Accomplished professional actor and director, Arthur J. “Bucky” Walsh, of Summer Street, Westerly, died April 19, 2017, peacefully at age 90 at the Royal Westerly Nursing Center surrounded by his loving and devoted family. The nursing home staff, along with his children and grandchildren comforted and cared for him beyond expectations.
Bucky was born Arthur John Walsh, in Chicago, IL on August 6, 1926, the son of the late Arthur J. and Mildred (Hill) Walsh Sr. Arthur was a Quartermaster Third Class in the United States Navy, serving in World War II. He earned the World War II Victory Medal, the American Area Medal, and the European-African-Middle East Area Medal.
At 18 years of age, Bucky was “discovered” by The Chamberlain Brown Agency of New York after a photo of him appeared in the Lowell Sun, MA newspaper, and his career in acting would begin.
Bucky appeared in many live TV shows, during TV’s “golden age”. He played the role of Jerry Winter, Katrin’s beau, on the show “Mama” resulting in the creation of not one but two Bucky Walsh fan clubs. Walsh has dozens of commercials to his credit, including ads for Pepsi, Budweiser, and Schlitz beer, and modeled for the covers of romance novels.
Bucky starred in numerous Broadway shows including “Stalag 17”, “Command Performance” and “Charlie’s Aunt”. He also had parts in several movies along with Nikki, including “Mystic Pizza”, David Mamet’s “Oleanna”, “Amistad” and “The Crucible” when filming was done close to home.
In the early 1950s, Bucky appeared on Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang TV show before and after Brooklyn Dodger baseball games. He knew all the players, including Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, and often got rides to the ballpark at Ebbet’s Field with them.
Bucky appeared in productions at the Somerset Playhouse in Massachusetts in 1952, and it was there that he met actress “Nikki Bruno” (Dorothy Stoppello). Life would then take a remarkable turn for Walsh as he would co-star, direct, marry, and spend a lifetime collaborating with Nikki in a variety of exciting theatrical ventures.
After leaving New York City for Westerly, Bucky and Bob Young cofounded Theater Workshop, a thriving local community theater. This was followed by decades of acting, directing, and producing at Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuck, The Newport Playhouse, and the Chateau de Ville Circuit in New England. Later, Bucky and Nikki performed throughout New England in productions of “Love Letters” for a variety of charitable organizations. More recently, he enjoyed spotting his family in the audience while performing many roles for the Colonial Theatre Shakespeare Festivals in Westerly.
Bucky was a loving, dedicated, involved grandfather to thirteen grandchildren. His life was intertwined with that of his children and grandchildren, and he played a vital and supportive role. He had a remarkable ability to calm fussy babies with his gentle, soothing manner, and absolutely loved doing so. “Grampy” loved his family’s many pets, especially Colby and Buddy, and they were always parked right by his side.
While in his 80s he visited his daughter Nicolina and her family in Germany, and traveled with them to Italy and Luxembourg. Later, he spent a memorable time with them in Kuwait, dancing and celebrating New Year’s Eve ‘til the early morning hours.
In his later years, Bucky enjoyed soaking up the sunshine at Wilcox Park and at the breachway in Weekapaug. His other loves included breakfasts at Kelley’s Deli, playing fantasy football, family poker games, watching Red Sox and Patriots games, listening to Sinatra, and cherishing holiday dinners with family.
He enjoyed many wonderful productions at the Granite Theater, often accompanied by his doting caregiver, Sheri. And he loved going on many car rides with his dear friend, the extraordinary Eric.
Bucky was pre-deceased by his beloved son, Kevin Bruno Walsh, who died in 1980, and wife Dorothy (Stoppello) Walsh in 2005. He is survived by his daughter, Mary Ann and son-in-law Paul Zerbarini, and grandchildren Catherine, Kevin, Marisa, and Kristen (Andrew) Wells and great-grandchildren Tyler and Parker of Westerly; his son, Michael A. Walsh and daughter-in-law Julia of Naples, FL and grandchildren Stefanie of Marshfield, MA, and Christopher and David of Boston, MA; his daughter Nicolina and son-in-law, John Bianchi of Abu Dhabi, UAE, and grandchildren, CPT Alexandra of Ft. Bliss, TX, Francesca, Nicoletta and Elisabeth, of Westerly; and his son Christopher J. Walsh and daughter-in-law, Kathleen and grandchildren Robert and Nicolina of Westerly.
The Walsh family recognizes and deeply appreciates Dr. Joseph R. Dotolo’s wonderful care and kindness. To the remarkable staff of Royal Westerly Nursing Center who provided such amazing care and compassion to Bucky, our heartfelt thanks. Bucky always lit up when his favorite caregivers entered his room and he truly loved each one. We are forever grateful to those who touched Bucky’s and our lives.
Finally, what can one say to Grampy’s granddaughter, Francesca, a young woman with an almost magical relationship with her grandfather? Thank you, Francesca for never leaving his side, and for providing unconditional love, laughter, and deep affection.
Bucky will be dearly missed by the community he was so much a part of, and by all those who knew and loved him.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 10:00 am at St. Pius X Church, 44 Elm Street, Westerly. There will be no procession from the funeral home. Burial with full military honors will take place at St. Sebastian Cemetery, Westerly. Calling hours will take place on Sunday, April 23, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Rushlow-Iacoi Funeral Home & Crematory, 64 Friendship Street, Westerly.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Kevin B. Walsh Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o The Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903, or The Colonial Theatre, P.O. Box 762, Westerly, RI 02891.
For online condolences, please visit www.rushlowiacoifuneralhome.com.