Warren Richmond Hartwell


Warren Richmond Hartwell, 78, of Newport, R.I., Tiverton, R.I., and Vineyard Haven, passed away peacefully on April 24, 2023, after a brief illness. 

Warren was born on August 7, 1944, in Providence, R.I., and was married to his beloved wife Nancy Hartwell for nearly 30 years. 

He was raised both in Rhode Island and on Martha’s Vineyard. He attended Providence Country Day School, East Providence High School, and Boston College, where he ran the classical radio station WCRB. While at BC, in the dead of winter, he was known to be the only one to volunteer to climb Mount Washington to erect radio towers.

A legend in audiovisual broadcasting in the 1960s, Warren was part-owner of the Mooncusser Café in Oak Bluffs, which hosted many aspiring and well-known celebrities. He was an accomplished pilot and owner of a Mooney aircraft, and would fly passengers back and forth from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard. 

He was a well-known waterskiing instructor on Martha’s Vineyard in his early 20s, teaching Leonard Bernstein to ski while showing off and skiing around the entire Island without falling once. He also instructed Jackie Kennedy and her entourage of Secret Service agents.

He was the president and owner of WRH Industries, Ltd., in Fall River, a plastics designer and manufacturer, for more than 50 years, and was a past board member of the Food Processing Suppliers Association. Throughout his tenure, he invented and developed many products that revolutionized the candymaking, chocolate, pharmaceutical, food service, food processing, and airline industries for world-leading clients.

He was a past commodore of the Rhode Island Yacht Club in Cranston, R.I., as well as a past treasurer of the Newport Yacht Club. He was a member of the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard, and chairman of the New England Steamship Foundation. He was also a member of the United Methodist Church of Oak Bluffs, where he designed the commercial kitchen for the church’s annex.

Warren was an avid sailor, owning several sail- and powerboats over his lifetime, and sailing to many destinations, both domestic and international. He invented his own signature cocktail, the Grouse Drink, which he served exclusively on his boat, Grouse III. His passion was collecting and driving vintage diesel Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Warren was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur and Dora Hartwell. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his sons, Ward and Paul (Stephanie); and his grandchildren, Zachary, Zoey, and Lina, who lovingly called him “Captain.” 

There will be two celebrations of life: May 21, from 4 to 6 pm, at the Newport Yacht Club; and June 4, from 2 to 4 pm at the Rhode Island Yacht Club. There will be a memorial service on Martha’s Vineyard at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Warren Hartwell’s name to the Newport Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program, 110 Long Wharf, Newport, RI 02840; to the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, Maine, at chewonki.org/give; or to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, at dana-farber.org.

For online condolences and more information, visit chapmanfuneral.com.