Slatersville painting will honor longtime town employee
March 17, 2021
Marc Gelinas painted this watercolor for his mother Betty Gelinas. The painting now hangs in her former office in the Memorial Town Building.
NORTH SMITHFIELD – A painting that once belonged to a former North Smithfield tax officer has closed in the former City Hall in honor of her memory.
Elizabeth “Betty” Thomas Gelinas was a longtime tax advisor for the City of North Smithfield. She worked for many years in the Memorial Town Building on 1 N. Main St., where staff and residents remembered her strong work ethic and knowledge of the town’s history.
After her retirement in the 1990s, her son Marc Gelinas painted a watercolor and presented it to her at her retirement party. The painting offers views of historic downtown Slatersville, including the Memorial Town Building where she worked for many years.
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Marc, a native of Forestdale, told The Breeze last week that he chose the Slatersville streetscape “to remind my mother that she commutes to work every day.” His mother, he said, was born at 64 Main St. and lived all of her life, other than a brief visit to Cumberland, within a mile of Town Hall.
“She was very close to her community. She knew a lot about history. She was involved in the centenary in 1971, ”he said.
The painting hung in his parents’ house on Maple Avenue for many years. After her death in 2017, Betty’s children, including Marc and sisters Sarah and Adele, wondered what to do with it. It was his brother-in-law Phil, said Marc, who recently came up with the idea of donating it to the North Smithfield Heritage Association.
“It just seemed like the right thing. It just seemed natural, ”he said.
Marc called local filmmaker Christian de Rezendes to arrange the donation. The two had met when de Rezendes was interviewing him for a documentary about Slatersville. As an art student at the Pratt Institute in New York, Marc had devised a plan to turn the former Slatersville Mill into a hotel for his thesis. The plan never came to fruition – the mill now houses luxury apartments – but the design caught the filmmaker’s interest while researching the town’s history.
De Rezendes forwarded the offer to the NSHA and delivered the painting to the Memorial Town Building on March 8th. The NSHA recently acquired the former City Hall and plans to use it as its headquarters and possible historical museum.
NSHA President Richard Keene said the organization was happy to accept the painting.
“Many of us fondly remember Betty as a dedicated, hard-working officer who always took the time to help people who came to her,” said Keene.
At the family’s request, the painting is now on display in Betty’s former office on the first floor.
Marc, who now lives and works as an interior designer in California, looks forward to seeing the new town hall in the former Kendall Dean School, where he attended school as a child. He thanked those involved in the donation for their affection for his mother and his support.