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Archive for the ‘Obituaries’ Category

PostHeaderIcon WILLIAM E. BLYDA of HOLYOKE, MASS, November 20, 1944 – December 16, 2014

Holyoke, William E. Blyda, 70, of Holyoke died Tuesday December 16, 2014 at Mercy Medical Center. William was born in Northampton; Nov. 20, 1944 he was the son of the late Anthony and Katherine {Keefe} Blyda.

William was a long time resident of Hadley, he was a graduate of Hopkins Academy. Bill was an avid sports fan especially enjoying all of the New England professional teams.

His family was most important to him and he is survived by his wife Dawn {Bristol} Blyda, his three daughters, Kari Blyda of Holyoke, Lynn Kelly Templeton and her husband Jack of CA, Billie-Jo Blyda of Holyoke and daughter in-law Rose Letourneau. He is also survived by his sister Nancy Junkins of GA., and a large local extended family. William was predeceased by a brother James.

Funeral services will be Monday December 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst. Burial will follow in Plainville Cemetery, Hadley. Calling hours will be Sunday December 21, from 1-3 PM at the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst.

At the family’s request, memorial donations in Williams’ name may be made to a charity of one’s choice.

Obituary and memorial register at

Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon FRANCIS A. MCKAY of SOUTH HADLEY, MASS, May 28, 1920 – December 12, 2014

Holyoke, Francis A. McKay, age 94, died peacefully Dec. 12, 2014 in Holyoke surrounded by his family. He was born at home on West Street in Granby, May 28, 1920, the son of John and Olga (McKissick) McKay. He is survived by his wife of 67 years,  Kathleen Canavan McKay; his daughters:  Cynthia Murphy and husband Barry of Mendon, MA, Donna McKay of South Hadley, Katherine McKay and husband Stephen Pelletier of Deerfield, MA, and Amy Avakian and husband David of Westhampton, MA; and son Kevin and wife Kathryn McKay of Chicopee, MA;  grandchildren:  Timothy Murphy and wife Meredith, and daughter Fiona, Los Angeles; Kevin Murphy, New York City;  Shannon (Malone) and husband Justin Kopacz,  children Gustav, Emmet, Abraham, and Adaline, Blandford, MA; Keely and husband Marshall Malone, children Kale and Zephyr, Greenfield, MA; Daniel  and Adam Kokonowski , South Hadley, MA; Ryan McKay, Kalispell, MT,  children Kaeda, Aiden, Oakley, Irelyn, and Declan;  Colleen Stanton, Singburi, Thailand; Carolyn Stanton, Asheville, NC; Desmond Pelletier, Goleta, CA; and Anna and Abby Avakian, Westhampton, MA;  his sisters Dorothy Regan, Granby and Bernice Hripak, Belchertown  and numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his son Gary D. McKay, his brother John McKay, and another sister Bernice who died in childhood.

Francis was a kind, hardworking, and gentle man, who as a boy rode to school in a horse-drawn wagon.  He never regretted leaving the family farm which, at its peak, was raising thousands of chickens.  At age 19, he was seriously burned in a gasoline explosion at the Hano Co. in Holyoke when he rescued a badly injured worker.   He served four years in the U.S. Army during WWII in New Zealand caring for wounded soldiers and on Saipan.   A former owner of Griggs Furniture in Amherst, MA and the Spirit Shoppe (Zag’s) in Ware, MA.  He also made deliveries for A.A. Fogarty Corp in Springfield.   

Ever the optimist, he was quick to remark, “It could be worse.”  He enjoyed the NY Yankees, golf, dancing, winters in Florida, and time with friends and family. 

Calling hours at the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst, are from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19th.  A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday, Dec. 20th, 10:00 AM, at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church,   122 North Pleasant St., Amherst.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Soldiers Home, Holyoke MA.

Obituary and memorial register at

Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon FLORITA BEATRICE MCNEALY of AMHERST, MASS, July 19, 1928 – December 11, 2014

Amherst, Florita Beatrice McNealy, who for the past three years, lived in Amherst, died suddenly at home on December 11, at the age of 86. She resided in Michigan for a good part of her life and worked as a nurse anesthetist. She studied general nursing at St. Mary’s Infirmary in St. Louis, Missouri. This hospital trained the largest number of African American doctors and nurses from its inception in the early 20th century to the late 1960’s.

In 1952, she began her training in anesthesia at St. Francis Hospital for Anesthesia Training in Peoria, Illinois. This program was the first anesthesia school that accepted African Americans and at that time Florita was the youngest person to have ever enrolled in the Program. It was also a milestone achievement when she became the first Black to be employed as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee, Illinois—thanks to the recommendations of the nuns and surgeons that ran the O.R.

Florita was a Peace Corps volunteer and sent to Brazil to work on the SS Ship Hope. She traveled extensively and after she returned to the States, was employed in hospitals around Illinois and Michigan until she turned 78. In 2007, she retired from Pontiac General Hospital in Michigan after dedicating over 55 years to the healthcare field.

Florita had an unstinting love for anesthesia and attended countless professional conferences and conventions to learn the latest techniques in anesthesia. Additionally, she pursued graduate studies at Wayne State University in Michigan, primarily to better understand the challenges patients from various socio-economic groups seeking healthcare had to overcome.

She was a pioneer in many areas and she left behind much goodwill wherever she lived. One trait she left us is that no matter how challenged our lives are, we should always lend a hand to those in need. We learnt from her that even when you are crying, you should not ignore the tears of others.

Florita is survived by her sister, Laura Richards and her husband Femi Richards, a brother, William McNealy, a sister-in-law, Sarah McNealy, a very special cousin Peter Jackson and scores of nieces and nephews scattered all over the country.

Florita was a devout Catholic and member of St. Patrick’s Church in Detroit, Michigan. As we mourn her passing, may we find strength in knowing that death is only a transition and the spirit lives forever. For those who have toiled long and hard, a respite from the rigors of life is well earned. We cannot afford to deny her the rest she so rightly deserves. It is up to us to keep her memory alive in ways that would immortalize the impact she made in our lives.

She was buried on Tuesday, December 16, at the Wildwood Cemetery in Amherst and is resting in peace. Obituary and memorial register at

Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon CLAIRE MARIE O’CONNOR of AMESBURY, MASS, January 1, 1928 – December 13, 2014

Amesbury, MA, Claire “Pat “(Granfield) O’Connor 86 passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on December 13, 2014. She was preceded in death by her husband Justin H. O’Connor, son Thomas O’Connor, parents William and Lillian Granfield, sister Catherine (Rena) McNulty, and brother John Granfield, and son in law Jake Bigham .She lived in Amherst MA and worked at the University of Massachusetts Housing department before retiring in 1993. She was Eucharistic minister at St. Brigid’s church and a member of the Cursillo of the Springfield Diocese.


She leaves her six children Mary O’Connor of Amesbury MA, Eileen (O’Connor ) Iacobucci and son in law Mark of Palm Harbor FL, Annie O’Connor and son in law  Steve Schwartz of Wappingers Falls NY, Judy Bigham of Seattle WA                   Bill O’Connor and daughter in law Joy (Dean) O’Connor of Londonderry NH and Peggy O’Connor of Punta Gorda FL. Thirteen Grandchildren ; Miranda Belmont Ryan O’Connor, Hailey O’Connor, MIkaela Iacobucci, Justin O’Connor ,Mackenzie O’Connor, Raina Bigham, Liam O’Connor, Thomas Iacobucci, Lula Bigham, Idabelle Bigham, Marcella O’Connor, and Nonni Schwartz, and great grandchild Alex Hickman.


A Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:00 AM, Friday December 19, 2014, at St. Brigid’s Church, Amherst. Burial will follow at 12:00 PM in Calvery Cemetery, Chicopee. Calling hours will be held Thursday December 18, form 6 – 8 PM at The Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst.


Memorial donations can be made to St.Brigid’s Church P.O. Box 424 Amherst, MA 01004. Obituary and memorial register at


Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon DORIS A. ATKINS of AMHERST, MASS, August 6, 1933 – December 4, 2014


AMHERST, Doris A. Atkins died at the Hospice of the Fisher Home in Amherst, MA on December 4, 2014. She was born in Bristol, CT on August 6, 1933, the daughter of the late Walter A. Zeiner and Edith (Blinn) Zeiner. She graduated from Terryville, CT High School in 1951 and received a B.A. degree from the University of Connecticut at Storrs in 1976.

She was a member of the Plymouth Grange #72 in Plymouth, CT and the Whigville Grange #48 for over 60 years. She was also a member of the South Congregational Church and the Thursday Club in Amherst.

She was predeceased by her husband, William C. Atkins in December of 2006, by her daughter, Donna Lee Maynard, and by her brother, Walter A. Zeiner of Mt. Dora, Florida.

Mrs. Atkins leaves her son, David Maynard, of Long Island, New York and her daughter-in-law Linda Winkler of Kingston, PA, her nephew Scott Zeiner of Sarasota, FL, her sister-in-law Elizabeth Zeiner of Mt. Dora, FL, and several cousins. She also leaves five step children: Chandler Atkins of Queensbury, NY, Dr. James Atkins of Goldsboro, NC, Linda Thompson of Warrenton, VA, Holly Pelissier of Nipomo. CA, Elizabeth Vega of Goldsboro, NC, and a number of step grandchildren and step great grandchildren.

Douglass Funeral Services will be in charge of the arrangements. At Mrs. Atkins request, there will be no calling hours or funeral service. A committal service will be held in Wildwood Cemetery in Amherst on Wednesday, December 10 at 11 AM. Reverend Fran Ruthven from South Congregational Church will conduct the service. Obituary and memorial register at



Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon CYNTHIA PHYLLIS BLANE of HADLEY, MASS, July 6, 1928 – November 27, 2014


Devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Cynthia Phyllis Blane died in Hadley on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 27, 2014 with family at her side.


Born on July 6, 1928 to Milton and Sally Weber, Cynthia grew up in Brooklyn, New York, graduated from James Madison High School with honors, and attended Brooklyn College.  In her twenties, as the married mother of 2 young children, she, along with a number of family members, trekked across the country and settled in the Southern California area. It was there she raised her family and led an active social life with a close circle of friends from her temple.


In 1968 she returned to the Northeast and soon met and married Murray Blane.  They celebrated their 45th Anniversary shortly before her death.  During the course of those years, Cynthia and Murray lived in New Jersey, California, the Berkshires, and Florida.  A few years ago they moved to the Amherst area to be closer to family.


‘Charlie’, as she was affectionately referred to by Murray and his family, loved to travel.  She and Murray journeyed to a wide range of exciting locations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Mexico, and the Caribbean.  She was extremely intelligent, an avid reader, and an inquisitive, life-long learner (as recently as last year taking a UMASS extension course).  Also a lover of the arts, Cynthia enjoyed opera, classical music, movies, theater and dance – in fact, she was a fine dancer herself.  She learned to play tennis in her 50’s and became a very knowledgeable spectator of the sport (and a big fan of ‘Rafa’).


Over the years, family became Cynthia’s main priority and she relished her role as the family matriarch. She will be deeply missed by her husband Murray Blane, her son Steven Leiblum, and daughter-in-law Lennie Ware, and her daughter Wendy Edinson and son-in-law Les Edinson.  She’ll also be missed by stepson William Blane and wife Amy Gross, and stepdaughter Jo Ellen Aaron.  Mourning her loss, too, are her grandchildren Eli Edinson, Asa Edinson, Mollie Edinson Domian and her husband Christopher Domian, as well as Mishy Leiblum, Raffi Leiblum, and his wife Kristina Kunkel, and Scott Aaron and his wife, Erin Cooper.  She also leaves behind 4 adorable great grandchildren.


Funeral arrangements were provided by the Douglass Funeral Home.  On Tuesday, December 2nd, there will be a private memorial held for close family members. Contributions to Amherst Cinema, 28 Amity Street, Amherst MA 01002 may be made in her memory. Obituary and memorial register at


Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon MARION M. TAYLOR of AMHERST, MASS, July 21, 1938 – November 17, 2014


Amherst, Dr. Marion M. Taylor, 76, born in Chicago, passed away peacefully on Monday, November 17th at the Fisher House in Amherst. He was surrounded by friends and students. Marion studied as a microbiologist but found his true passion in traditional Japanese martial arts. He held senior ranks in Iaido, Karate, Kyudo and Aikido. Marion worked as Director of Martial Arts in the outdoor program (OPRA) at Hampshire College for 39 years until his retirement in 2012. He is survived by many hundreds of students across the country and friends around the world, all of whom mourn his loss. Marion was an inspiring teacher and timeless mentor to those who carry his legacy through the practices he shared. Donations, in his name, can be made to the Fisher House, where Marion spent his last weeks in the company of those close to him and the loving staff of the Fisher House. Obituary and memorial register at


Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon ALICE M. BOOTH of PELHAM, MASS, March 11, 1917 – November 16, 2014

Alice M. {Pratt} Booth

1917 – 2014

Pelham, Alice May {Pratt} Booth, 97, a long time Pelham resident, passed away on Sunday Nov. 16, 2014, at The Center for Extended Care at Amherst. She was born March 11, 1917, to the late Ida and Ralph Pratt, in Shutesbury. She was educated in Shutesbury Schools, and she married her late husband Cleon Booth in 1934, moving to Enfield Rd. in Pelham shortly after. Alice spent her early years raising her four children. Later in life she was a care giver to many at local nursing homes, and then went to work at the University of Massachusetts Dinning Commons, until her retirement. She enjoyed going to bingo with her sisters and taking care of her mother and family. Alice spent her last years at the Center for Extended Care where she had many friends.

She is survived by her brother Lawrence “Larry” Pratt, her two sons, Cleon “Buzzy” Booth and wife Dora and Ernest “Ernie” Booth and wife Carolyn. She was predeceased by her daughters Bernice Stratton, Ernestine “Tini” Sawicki, Sisters Gertrude Stockwell and Mildred Britt, Brothers Harold, Clayton and Chester Pratt; she was also predeceased by a grandson, Tommy Stratton.

Funeral Services will be Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, 10:00 AM at the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst, with burial following in Pelham Valley Cemetery, Pelham. Calling hours will be Friday Nov. 21, from 5 – 7 PM at the Douglass Funeral Service. Obituary and memorial register at


Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon SHIRLEY E. SCHWARTZ of AMHERST, MASS, October 28, 1922 – November 3, 2014

Shirley E. Schwartz

1922 – 2014

Leeds, Shirley E. {Tacy} Schwartz, 92, a long time Amherst resident died Monday November 3rd, 2014 at Overlook of Northampton. Shirley was born in Northampton Oct. 28, 1922, to the late Frederick and Emily {Bedard} Tacy.

Shirley grew up in the Bay State section of Northampton and was a Northampton High School Graduate; she was also a Graduate of the former Northampton Commercial College.

She was an avid movie buff, and met her late husband Daniel at the Calvin Theatre, where they both were working. She retired after many years from A.J. Hastings, Amherst. Shirley loved birds, especially Cardinals, light houses and the Red Sox.

She is survived by her two daughters, Maryanne and Dennis of Hampden, MA and Martha and Alan of CA., and her son Paul of MA. She is also survived by 6 Grandchildren and 2 Great-Grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Shirley was pre deceased by her beloved husband Daniel and was the last of her twelve siblings.

Funeral services will be Friday November 14th, 9:00 am from the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst, with a Mass of Christian Burial,10:00 am at St. Brigid’s Church, Amherst. Burial will be at 12:15 pm in St. Jerome’s Cemetery, Holyoke. Calling hours will be Thursday, November 13th, from 5 – 7 pm at the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst.

Memorial donations may be made to Overlook of Northampton, 222 River Rd. Leeds, MA 01053 or Community House of Hope, 348 West Avenida De Los Arboles, Thousand Oaks, CA. 91360 Obituary and memorial register at

Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

PostHeaderIcon MALCOLM FEINSTEIN of HOLYOKE, MA, July 12, 1922 – October 28, 2014

Holyoke, Malcolm Feinstein died at Loomis House in Holyoke, MA on October 28, 2014.  Born on July 12, 1922 in Middletown, Connecticut, he was the third and youngest son of Sadie and Jacob Feinstein who had immigrated to the US from Eastern Europe in the early 1900’s.  He grew up in the tiny town of Chester, Connecticut where his father and mother ran the village general store which sold everything from shoes to safety pins. 

Mal’s talents in art and music were recognized at an early age.  During his grade school years, he painted murals on many of the school’s walls and received violin lessons from Reuben Segel, a noted violinist and professor at the Hartt School of Music. Mal began his studies of commercial art at Pratt Institute, but his coursework was cut short by World War II.  He was inducted into the Army Air Force and served, during the war, as a phototopographer in India and Burma.  After the war, Malcolm used the GI Bill to complete his studies at Pratt in 1947 and, during the next two years, worked as a commercial artist with a specialty in the area of lettering.  Then, eager to try his own hand at painting, Malcolm traveled to France where he enrolled at the Ecoles d’Art Americaines, Palais de Fountainebleau.  Upon his return to the US, he met Estelle Fisher whom he married in 1949.  Three weeks after their wedding, the two moved to Paris where Malcolm studied painting with Edouard Goerg at the Academic de la Grande Chaumier in Montparnasse, attended classes with Leger, exhibited paintings at the American Library in Paris, and set up his portable easel to paint along the streets of Paris and rural France.

In 1951, they returned to the US and eventually settled in Stamford, Connecticut where they raised three children.  From 1959 until 1982, Malcolm pursued a career as a graphic designer and lettering artist with his college roommate, Irv Koons, at Irv Koons Associates in New York City.  The studio was named the “Package Design Studio of the Year” by the Package Design Council of New York in 1981.  By age 60, Malcolm retired in order to paint full time in the studio he had built at his Stamford home.  After Estelle died in 2002, he relocated close to his daughter’s home in South Hadley, Massachusetts where he continued to paint, creating a total of more than 300 paintings in his lifetime.

Malcolm is survived by one brother Arthur Feinstein and his wife Rhoda Feinstein, one son Daniel Feinstein and his wife Rose Ann Wasserman, two daughters Susan Barry and Deborah Feinstein and their husbands Dan Barry and Alan Copsey, and four grandchildren.  His warmth and imagination will be greatly missed. 

Funeral services will be private.  In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to “Mount Holyoke College for the Malcolm Feinstein Music Fund” at Advancement Office, Mount Holyoke College, 50 College St., South Hadley, MA. 01075. Obituary and memorial register at

Service details, Social networking, Memorial Guestbook and Slideshow are available here.

Current Obituaries
To view full obituary details and/or sign the Memorial Guestbook click desired individual below.

WILLIAM E. BLYDA of HOLYOKE, MASS died on December 16, 2014

FRANCIS A. MCKAY of SOUTH HADLEY, MASS died on December 12, 2014


CLAIRE MARIE O'CONNOR of AMESBURY, MASS died on December 13, 2014