WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Edythe M. Wittes (“Gram”/”Gram-Gram”), mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, business and community leader and true Woman of Valor, died on Nov. 1 surrounded by her children and grandchildren. There are not enough pages to pay adequate tribute or catalog her accomplishments.
Edythe graced the world on May 23, 1922, and spent her early childhood in Franklin, Massachusetts, where she was raised with her brother Bob (predeceased) and sister Lois (Warwick), graduating as salutatorian of her Franklin High School class of 1940, who voted her Most Likely to Succeed. She later attended Framingham State Teacher’s College. Married to her beloved Sherwood Sadwin on Feb. 8, 1942, they welcomed son Lawrence (“Larry”) (Warren) in 1943 in Dayton, Ohio while Sherwood served the country as a Major in the Army Air Corps, later resettling the family in Woonsocket in 1946, where they welcomed daughter Darlene (Cranston) and where Sherwood ran the Sadwin Curtain Manufacturing Company until his untimely death in 1964. Edythe grieved but carried on and assumed the role of President of Sadwin Curtain, remaining in that position until succeeded by her son.
Edythe married Dr. Saul Wittes in 1965 and was blessed with a second loving marriage that lasted 20 years until Saul’s death in 1985. And with her typical grace and devotion, Edythe cared lovingly for Saul during the latter part of his life following a series of strokes that left him largely incapacitated.
During her many years in Woonsocket, Edythe not only ran a business, she also gave back to the community with tireless volunteer work on behalf of (among others) the Woonsocket Hospital Aid Association, Red Cross, Congregation B’nai Israel (serving as president first of the synagogue’s Sisterhood organization, receiving its Person of Valor award in 1975, and later serving as the first female president of the Congregation itself in 1987) and her beloved Stadium Theatre. Edythe served as the first president of the Stadium Theatre Foundation, leading the extensive restoration that was completed in 2001, and also served as chairwoman of the board of directors of the Northern R.I. Council on the Arts.
Edythe also made time for another great passion – travel – visiting much of the United States, Europe, Australia, Israel and her most happy place in Eastham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Nothing was more “perfect” for Gram than sitting on the deck watching the sun set on the bay and birds circling the bird-feeder, with her perfect VO Manhattan in hand and classical music filling the house. Her greatest joy was her family, including son Larry Sadwin and daughter-in-law Joan Sadwin; daughter Darlene Goryl; grandchildren, Stephanie (Sadwin) and Tom Masiello, Todd and Bernadine Sadwin, Stacey (Goryl) and Brendan Harty, and David and Alyson Goryl; and four great-grandchildren, Max and Zoe Sadwin and A.J. and Michael Masiello. Holiday meals around her table were joyous productions filled with delicacies and laughter, and she always made time to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on, sagely and famously advising “This too shall pass.”
She set the highest example of a life well lived and will be missed beyond words by those who were privileged enough to know, love and be loved by her.
Memorial contributions in Edythe’s name may be made to Friends of B’nai Israel Cemetery, P.O. Box 250, Slatersville, RI 02876 or to the Stadium Theatre, 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket, RI 02895.