Cover photo for Catherine Graziano's Obituary
Catherine Graziano Profile Photo
1931 Catherine 2022

Catherine Graziano

December 2, 1931 — August 15, 2022


Former Senator Catherine E. (Hawkins) Graziano, RN, PhD, of Providence passed away on August 15, 2022  at Briarcliffe Gardens.  She was the wife of the late Louis W. Graziano. She is survived by her five children, Mary L Pontarelli (Michael) of Greenville, William F. Graziano (Jodee) of Scotsdale, AZ, Catherine E Graziano (John Ryan) of Charlestown, Paul J. Graziano (Sara) of Burrillville, and Carol A. MacLean (Gavin) of Providence. She was also predeceased by her sons, Louis Graziano and Joseph Graziano.

She was the daughter of the late William and Catherine (Keegan) Hawkins.  She was the sister of the late Sr. Mary Macrina Hawkins, RSM, William J. Hawkins and John P Hawkins.   She is also survived by 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Catherine was a 1949 graduate of St. Xavier Academy, Providence, a 1953 graduate of Salve Regina University with a BS in Nursing.  She remained at the college as a Professor of Nursing and Chair of the Nursing Department until her retirement in 1997. She was the recipient of the Salve Regina University Regina Medal, a highly prestigious honor. At the time, one of only 7 recipients in a span of 50 years.

She earned a Masters Degree in Medical Surgical Nursing from Boston College in 1965 and a Masters Degree in Health Services Administration from Salve Regina University in 1984.  She then received her PhD from Pacific Western University in 1988.  She served as an expert witness in numerous medical malpractice cases in Rhode Island, often testifying before judges and juries.  She has co-authored and contributed on textbooks related to nutrition and health.

This was all accomplished while raising five children, teaching full-time and working on the weekends at St. Joseph Hospital in Providence for over 40 years.

Catherine belonged to many professional nursing organizations, she was a former President, RI State Nurses Association, American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, Accreditation Visitor for Collegiate Programs in Nursing. She was the first recipient of the RI State Nurses Association Award for Outstanding Nursing Educator in Rhode Island. Numerous other accolades were bestowed throughout her life.

One award she was most proud of was the Bishop Mulvee Award as Outstanding Pro-Life Legislator. She also received a Right-to-Life Recognition Award-first time given to a legislator.

She was elected to the RI State Senate in 1992 and remained until 2002. She was the chair of the Health & Human Services Committee and fought for issues related to Health care, the Elderly, Education, Pay Equity and Environmental issues.  She was a proud sponsor of the “Safe Haven Legislation”.

She was a volunteer for many organizations across the state of Rhode Island.

A lifelong resident of Providence and parishioner of St. Thomas Church.

Catherine's funeral will be held Monday August 22, 2022 from the Robbins Funeral Home, 2251 Mineral Spring Ave. North Providence, R.I. at 8:45 A.M. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Thomas Church, 65 Fruit Hill Ave. Providence, R.I. at 10 A.M. Calling hours are Sunday 3:00-5:00 P.M. Burial will be Private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Graziano Nursing Scholarship at Salve Regina University , Newport, RI or St. Thomas Church , Providence, RI

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Catherine Graziano, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, August 21, 2022

3:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Monday, August 22, 2022

Starts at 8:45 am (Eastern time)

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Mass of Christian Burial

Monday, August 22, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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