Robert J. Healey
Robert J. Healey, Jr. was born in Providence on May 3, 1957. He resided in Warren with his parents, Robert, a journeyman plumber and Mary, a handkerchief factory worker, and his grandmother. He lived a typical rural childhood and graduated from Warren High School in 1975.
After high school, Bob was to follow in the family business of his uncle, Frank Martinelli, and become a house painter, a trade he worked in for several years in his youth. After one year of painting, Bob enrolled in Rhode Island College and completed his program of study in three years, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in English/Secondary Education.
Upon graduation, Bob relocated to Oregon to take a teaching position in a small rural private school along the Applegate River in Jacksonville and continued his studies at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland.
Having received acceptance to Boston University, Bob returned east in 1980 and completed his first Master’s degree in the field of Reading Education. During his time at BU, he worked as a daily substitute teacher in the Boston Public Schools.
After graduating in 1980, Bob enrolled at New England School of Law and worked on his second Master’s degree at Northeastern University. He received his law degree in 1983 and his second Master’s degree, this one in the field of English Literature, in 1985. During these years he was living commuting from Warren, where he was also an elected official and during the summer of 1981, he was in Tokyo studying International Law and Japanese Trade.
From 1982 to 1986 Bob was a member of the Warren School Committee, having been elected as the top vote getter in a field of six, he was elected by that Committee to serve as its Chairperson for all four years of his term.
In 1983 Bob began his Ph.D program at Columbia University, commuting to New York on a regular basis, missing only one meeting of the board during his entire tenure, that meeting being an emergency meeting.
Bob’s tenure on the school board was notable for its transparency. He would write a weekly statement as to the state of the schools. Also, during his tenure, the board he chaired had property tax increases for schools that amounted to about 25 cents over four years.
Having completed all the courses required for his doctorate, Bob was working on his dissertation under the direction of George ZF Bereday, a seasoned Columbia University professor often called the father of the field of Comparative Education. Unfortunately, while in the middle of his dissertation, Professor Bereday died. Unable to find a suitable replacement to enable him to continue on his topic of research, Bob returned to Warren and practiced law.
In the course of his practice, Bob would strive to serve the people of Warren and the area with pro bono and reduced fee engagements, one year having given away one thousand hours of legal time. He was elected by his peers to serve as the Secretary for the Bristol County Bar Association in the 80s and is still serving in that capacity today.
In 1986 Bob decided to rail against the political system which he found to be controlled by insiders and special interests. In June of 86 Bob declared himself a candidate for Governor as an Independent running under the Cool Moose Party banner. He lost miserably.
Setting aside his political ambitions, he dedicated himself to his law practice and volunteered to help local taxpayer groups in their fights against taxing authorities from Barrington to North Kingstown to Hopkinton. He also became involved with various political groups, largely related to independent and third party politics.
In 1994 he decided to run again for Governor under the Cool Moose Party. This run yielded him almost 10 percent of the vote, and, in doing so, provided for state recognition of the Cool Moose Party as an official statewide party. He served as the party chair for three years and filed a federal lawsuit challenging the validity of the Rhode Island primary laws, being the first time a favorable ruling for a third party was issued in the U.S. First District.
In 1986, with Bob as the party chair, the Cool Moose Party ran more than two dozen candidates for state and local offices. Three local candidates were successful, including Susan Schaffer in Hopkinton, believed to be the first woman elected on a third party ticket in Rhode Island history.
In 1998 Bob ran a third time for Governor, this time in a four way race. He finished third with a vote total less than his 94 run.
Away from politics, Bob started a liquor wholesale company with a partner. That liquor company went from zero sales to millions in just over five years. The company was sold and Bob took his share of the profit to South America where he invested in land.
During these years, Bob had attempted several business ventures, many with little success. He started a wine company in Uruguay to import California wines, an ice cream company, and a yacht provisioning service, all of which were terminated. He had a wine brand labeled with his face that proved quite successful. He imported plate ware from Uruguay and opened a wine and cheese establishment in Warren.
A long advocate of elimination of the office of the Lieutenant Governor, Bob took aim at that office and ran on a platform of elimination in 2002, 2006, and 2010. In his 2010 run, he received almost 40% of the vote total and more votes than the elected Governor.
In 2010 he thought he was finished with politics and returned his attention to his law practice. He completed his children’s book, The King Needs Sleep. In 2014 he and a business partner began Peace Co, a liquor wholesale operation with a focus on South America.
In September, Bob replaced Moderate Party candidate James Spooner after Mr. Spooner withdrew from the Governor’s race due to an illness. And the rest, they say, is history.