PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Irwin J. Chase passed away May 5. He was the beloved husband of Phyllis (Freeman) Chase; they were married for 59 years. Born in Providence, he was a son of the late Martin and Helen (Newburger) Chase.
A graduate of Brown University, he was on the board of directors of Rhode Island Hospital Trust bank and the International Mass Retail Association. He was also a Rhode Island Commodore.
He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2009, and was co-founder of Ann & Hope, the first discount department store in America. Prior to starting their own businesses, Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) and Harry Cunningham (Kmart) each came to Rhode Island to study Ann & Hope’s pioneering discount department store concept. In its heyday, Ann & Hope employed 3,000 associates across Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Irwin was a U.S. Army infantry veteran. He served during WWII and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He fought in Germany and Austria in General Patton’s Third Army. His company was the first to cross the Rhine River in Germany, and was involved in the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his son Michael Chase; son Bradley Chase and his wife, Rebecca; brother Samuel Chase and his wife, Eszter; sister Marjorie Torgan and her husband, Philip; sister-in-law Ruthie Steinberg; and granddaughters Lauren, Madeline, Hannah and Julia. He was predeceased by brothers-in-law L. Saul Alpert and Edward Steinberg.
There was nothing more valuable to Irwin than his family. He will be remembered as a kind, humble and generous man.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Irwin J. Chase College Scholarship Fund at Temple Beth-El, or any charity of your choice. Cards may be sent to Phyllis Chase, C/O Ann & Hope, Inc., 1 Ann and Hope Way, Cumberland, RI 02864.