William "Billy" Cartwright

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Billy Cartwright, 42; new job brought out his best

Billy Cartwright's boss at the Providence Yarn Co. was a tough act to follow.

So, when the man retired as warehouse manager a couple of years ago, Charles Samdperil, the owner of the company, wasn't sure Cartwright could fill his shoes.

"I said to Billy, do you think you could do this?" Samdperil recalled. "He took over and he felt good about the responsibility, and the more responsibility, the better he got."

Things weren't always so smooth with Billy, the only son of William H. Cartwright Jr. and the former Charlotte E. Collins, who died of cancer when Billy was 20.

The Cartwrights had four girls, three born before Billy. "He gave me more headaches than all my daughters put together," his father said.

As a boy, Billy used to worry his father sick by staying out late and not calling to say where he was. The elder Cartwright said he would call the police to find him.

As Billy got older, however, he settled down. He still liked to camp and fish and ride motorcycles.

But he also had a girlfriend, Kristen Aris, whom he was hoping to marry. He had an apartment on the east side of Pawtucket, and had just bought a new van.

Billy, 42, planned to register the van that Friday, and had asked his father to pick him up and drive him to work.

The elder Cartwright said he had a premonition his son was dead late Thursday night when television reported that there had been a devastating fire at a heavy-metal concert.

After Billy's death was confirmed, the elder Cartwright and his longtime companion, Doris Bryant, went to the Providence Yarn Co. to return Billy's keys to the warehouse. There, they found his Yamaha motorcycle, as well as the clipboard folder he had used to keep track of shipments.

Samdperil said he and others had spent the days since Billy died going through the 30,000-square-foot warehouse looking for things -- things that Billy would have been able to find immediately.

"Even while we're doing this, the name Billy keeps coming up."

-- Providence Journal staff

Published in The Providence Journal on Mar. 20, 2003
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