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Iacchei and Cotoia Memorial Scholarship Fund
By Jean Cohoon / January 3, 2019 /   Loading Disqus...

“My brother, Joseph, and I are from a very close-knit family,” Cheryl (Iacchei) Johnson shares, explaining that her family’s backyard abutted those of her aunts and uncles, all just a stone’s throw from North Providence High School.

“Our uncle, Carlo Cotoia, owned a small construction company. He built homes for many family members,” Cheryl says. “Recognizing the importance of the trades, he hired students from North Providence High School to work for his company summers, giving them the opportunity to develop employable skills.”

Cheryl recalls their aunt (Mary Cotoia) and uncle, both native Rhode Islanders, as “loving and devoted to home and family. Our aunt was a quiet, gentle, and caring woman.” The couple did not have children.

Cheryl and Joseph’s father, Joseph A. Iacchei, born in Pennsylvania, lived most of his life in Rhode Island.  A World War II veteran, he worked as a planner and estimator at Quonset Point Naval Air Station and later as an equal opportunity officer for the State of Rhode Island. Noting that their father earned an accounting degree in Bryant College’s evening division, Cheryl states, “Dad was academically-focused; education was extremely important to him.”

Born and raised in Rhode Island, their mother, Eva, worked at Calart Flowers and Weingeroff Enterprises. “But first and foremost, she was a devoted wife and mother. Our Mom always put everyone else first. Simple things made her very happy,” Cheryl recalls.

“Our parents encouraged us to be self-reliant and independent. They supported all of our endeavors and attended all of our activities when we were students at North Providence High School. They knew success could be achieved through education and hard work,” Cheryl says, noting she and her brother earned advanced degrees. 

“Our parents and our aunt and uncle made sacrifices to make our lives better. My brother and I asked ourselves, ‘What can we do now to give back?’” Cheryl explains. The answer was this scholarship fund for North Providence High School, with annual awards both for students pursuing education at a two or four-year post-secondary school and those pursuing education at a trade school.

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