‘The legend has retired’

David Cournoyer thanked for years serving Johnston Schools

Posted 10/7/22

“The legend has retired,” read a decoration on countless cupcakes made by Lucia Conti at her husband-owned Emilio’s Bakery in West Warwick.

There was another special slogan …

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‘The legend has retired’

David Cournoyer thanked for years serving Johnston Schools


“The legend has retired,” read a decoration on countless cupcakes made by Lucia Conti at her husband-owned Emilio’s Bakery in West Warwick.

There was another special slogan — “Retired: Under new management; see wife for more details.”

Likewise, there were endless tributes, testimonials and tributes late last Thursday afternoon inside Pete Matteo’s Bar 101 which was filled with people who wanted to honor — and thank — a marvelous man people concurred was “one of a kind” during a special surprise party sendoff.

That man was David Cournoyer, who worked for the Johnston School Department for the last 14 years as the highly valuable Director of Facilities and Transportation.

“Dave has ben a highly valued and regarded facilities director and always kept the best interests of the district at the forefront of all his work,” said Johnston Schools Superintendent Dr. Bernard DiLullo Jr. “Dave was very skilled at getting the best deals on purchases and services for the district. He saved the district a substantial amount of funds through his years. He made sure Johnston schools shined inside and out.”

Cournoyer will be succeeded by Jerri Cantone, current Transportation Facilities Clerk who wanted it known: “It is hard to say goodbye to someone who became a part of your everyday life. Thank you for everything you have taught me. You will be missed!”

Missed indeed, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena emphasized, as he congratulated Cournoyer during the party. “Dave will be missed. He was an asset to the school department and town. He always kept the taxpayers in mind when spending money. We wish him well.”

Joseph Rotella, veteran Vice Chairman of the Johnston School Committee, offered during the fun-and-food filled retirement sendoff: “Dave’s resourcefulness will be truly missed; you could always count on him to get the job done. Dave always found a way to make it happen.”

Whenever there was an emergency, such as weather or mechanical issues, Cournoyer was out no matter what time of the day or night.

For example, during snowstorms as Dr. DiLullo added: “Dave was out examining road conditions at 3 a.m. After watching the snow fall all night to make sure our students and staff would get safely to school and back home, he and I would discuss conditions at 4 a.m. to decide on school cancellations. At the end of our conversations, he always offered to bring me a cup of coffee because that’s who Dave Cournoyer was — diligent in his work and kindhearted to all.”

With emotions ringing in his voice Dr. DiLullo added: “No matter who asked Dave for a favor or service he never said no. I will miss him in the school department, but I am glad he will be able to sleep all night, be with his family more maybe buy a few more Corvettes and just relax and enjoy life. He is one of a kind!”

Cournoyer headed what people called “a super staff” of 23 custodians and three other people on the maintenance staff, and was responsible for making sure six schools in Johnston were always “spic and span,” as people said the other night, “regardless if one is 100 years old or the one built in 1964.”

Meanwhile, Angela Brasil — Confidential Administrative Assistant to Dr. DiLullo and School Committee Secretary said: “Dave was always available when anyone needed him. He showed as much pride in our schools and Town of Johnston as a whole as if he were a town resident. He’s a true man of action and we will miss him terribly. I wish him ell the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

It’s a retirement that comes after a highly accomplished career, which began in part in 1996 and included exceptional experiences in wastewater management. His career was also filled with many impressive licenses and certificates following his graduation in 1979 from Woonsocket High School and Woonsocket Vocational School.

Perhaps what Cournoyer said when he entered the jam-packed Bar 101 and was obviously surprised when he and his his wife Lisa — who first told Dave she had to make an appearance at a party — was further proof that Dave Cournoyer was a man of few words, but noted for his extraordinary love for his fellow man and women.

“I don’t really like making speeches” Cournoyer said with his always special smile on his face. “I want to thank everyone who came out to wish me well on my retirement today. I was so surprised, this is wonderful. Thank you so much, I’m going to miss you all.”

Thus, there were endless congratulation wishes about a special man Ferri Middle School Principal Matthew Tsonas described as “one of a kind, hardworking and dedicated who loved his family.”

Edda Carmadello, Director of Special Services wanted it known: “Dave always prioritized the needs of students in the district. He’s worked closely with this office to ensue students with disabilities had specialized equipment, furniture and materials in their class. We are grateful for his promptness and urgency to assist those in need. He will be missed all students, teachers and staff.”

Even Pete Matteo, proprietor of Bar 101, made sure Dave Cournoyer’s retirement was special by serving a mouth-watering menu that included nine appetizers such as caprese and chicken skewers, stuffed mushrooms, assorted sliders and pizza, and penne ala vodka.

As several attendees pointed out while congratulating Matteo on his exceptional food presentations, “the sign on that mirror — keepin’ it simple — is really appropriate for Dave Cournoyer.”

Anyone connected with the Johnston School Department will tell you “he was a man of many talents, unique caring ways who enjoyed making people happy in many wonderful ways and always did so offering a thumbs up and super special smile.”


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