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Archive for the ‘Obituaries’ Category

PostHeaderIcon CRISTOPHER F. GRAY of GRANBY, MASS, December 2, 1958 – March 1, 2016



Christopher F. Gray (1958-2016)


Granby, MA, Christopher died of natural causes at his home in Granby, Massachusetts. The son of Annette G. Gray of Delray Beach, Florida, and the late Robert L. Gray, Chris was a beloved father, grandfather, brother, and uncle.

Christopher is survived by his daughter Christen Carter and granddaughters Brianna Albert, age 11, and Patience Carter, age 5, also of Granby. Siblings Molly Gray of Northampton, Susanne Gray Stankowski of Deerfield, Don Gray of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jen Gray of Northampton, Jonathan Gray of Palm Springs, California, and Katie Gray of Holyoke, as well as their spouses, partners, and many nieces and nephews, survive Chris as well.

An Amherst Regional High School Class of 1976 graduate, Christopher was a varsity ice hockey goalie during school. He continued to play as goalie after graduation in a semi-professional league. Christopher was well-known as a professional bartender in the Valley, warm and friendly, always ready to listen to or tell a good story.

A man of many creative interests, Chris was an accomplished woodworker, painter, and home cook. Chris very much enjoyed the outdoors, particularly mountain biking and fishing. Many of Chris’s paintings depict the beauty of the Western Massachusetts landscape.

Memorial donations in Christopher F. Gray’s honor may be made to Baystate Children’s Hospital or the charity of your choice.

Christopher’s family welcomes friends to attend a memorial on April 8 at the Douglass Funeral Home in Amherst, with calling hours from 4-5:30pm followed by a service from 5:30-6pm.





PostHeaderIcon MARJORIE E. COWLES of AMHERST, MASS, June 27, 1923 – March 7, 2016

Amherst, Marjorie (Midge) Cowles (92) of South Amherst passed away peacefully in her sleep Monday night, March 7, 2016.  She was born in 1923, the last surviving child of Winfred and Jennie (Kentfield) Cowles, of South Amherst.  She is pre-deceased by her brother Homer of South Amherst, Doris of Vancouver, Canada and Rachel (Monty) of Seekonk, Massachusetts and her nephew Tim Cowles of South Amherst.


A graduate of Amherst High School in 1940, she attended and graduated from Massachusetts State College in Amherst in 1944 with a degree in Home Economics.  Upon graduation she held a series of supervisory positions in the food service departments at Dartmouth College, Colby College, the University of Chicago and Yale University.  In 1958 accepted a position with the Massachusetts Department of Education, Bureau of Education and School Food Services eventually working in the Western District of Massachusetts in the School Lunch program for 28 years until her retirement in 1985.


Midge, while she had no children of her own, was a very special Aunt for her many nieces and nephews and she will be sorely missed by them.  She provided many opportunities for learning and fun that would not have been possible otherwise.  She leaves behind her sister-in-law Shirley Cowles of South Amherst, nieces; Sue (Cowles) Crutch and her husband Donald of South Amherst, Nancy (Cowles) Kopec of Shelburne, Mass., and Debbie (Cowles) Zonca and husband Wayne of Highland Park, Illinois, and, nephews; Mike Cowles and his wife Nancy of Belchertown, Bob Cowles of Derby, Vermont (recently of Deerfield, Mass.), Dan Cowles of Cape Coral, Florida,  Andy Cowles and his wife Jacqui of South Amherst and Teddy Monty and his wife Sandy of Cranston, RI. and many great nieces and nephews.


A private burial service will be held at the South Amherst Cemetery during the summer.







PostHeaderIcon ANN ELIZABETH KEARNS of AMHERST, MASS, April 5, 1939 – March 2, 2016



Amherst, Ann Elizabeth Cleary Kearns, 76, of Amherst, died of pneumonia at Cooley Dickinson Hospital on March 2, 2016.  Born in Jacksonville, Illinois, she held a BA from Stanford University, completed the choral conducting program at Juilliard School of Music, and earned an M.M. in Music History from the University of Wisconsin.  From 1976 to 2000 she was professor of music and choral director at Hampshire College.  As one of the first female choral directors in the Pioneer Valley, she led the way for other women to enter the field.  From 1972 to 1979 she led Da Camera Singers (an early music choral group) which continues to this day.  The composer of many published choral works she had distinguished commissions and performances by the Blanche Moyse Chorale, Alice Parker and others.  She also received several grants and awards. 


Ann was an avid birder, extraordinary musician, political activist, member of the Amherst environmental community and loving grandmother.  She was an active volunteer and member of the Kestrel Land Trust Advisory council where she organized walks and talks once or twice a month to bring people out on the land.  She died overlooking the beloved Mount Holyoke Range which the Kestrel Land Trust continues to preserve. 


She is survived by her longtime partner, Mary Hocken of Amherst, her former husband Thomas R. Kearns of Shutesbury, her daughter Julia Abbott and her husband Bob, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, her son Matthew and his wife Lucia of Falmouth, Maine and her cherished grandchildren Emily, Benjamin, and Matthew Abbott, and Peter and Jonathan Kearns.


Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to Kestrel Land Trust of Amherst Massachusetts at or PO Box 1016 Amherst MA 01004. 


Services will be on April 9, 2016 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, Massachusetts, at 3 pm, followed by a gathering in the Parish Hall.  The celebration of Ann’s life will continue at 5:30 pm at Lewis-Sebring, Valentine Hall, Amherst College.





PostHeaderIcon STANLEY J. PELIS of HADLEY, MASS, August 28, 1920 – March 2, 2016



Hadley, Stanley J. Pelis, 95, a long time Amherst and Florence resident, died Wednesday March 2, 2016 at the Elaine Center at Hadley. Stanley was born August 28, 1920 in Montague to the late Joseph and Helen {Staniavak} Pelis.


Stanley graduated from the Amherst High School and then entered into the Army Air Corps during WWII. Upon his discharge he began working in the Amherst area for many years doing many different jobs, from bartending, painting, welding and finally becoming a union carpenter. He spent the next 40 plus years of his life working for himself, as a self-employed local carpenter.


Stanley had many interests including his love of carpentry, backyard picnics with family and friends, gardening, polka dancing, golfing Cape Cod beaches and winters in Florida.


Stanley is survived by his son, George and Anita, of Leverett and his daughter Carol Xinidakis, of Las Vegas. Stanley is also survived by six grandchildren, Laurie Pelis, Rebecca Leahy, Mark, Tim, Dave and Paul Xinidakis, and two great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of more than 65 years Sophie {Kiselewski} Pelis, and four brothers, Joseph, Chester, Edward and Alexander and his sister Sophie.


The family would like to thank the Elaine Center at Hadley, The Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and Compassus for their care giving and support.


Funeral services will be Tuesday March 8, 2016 at 10:00 am at the Douglass Funeral Service, Amherst, with burial following in St. Brigid’s Cemetery, Hadley. Calling hours will be Monday from 5 – 7 pm at the Douglass Funeral Service.


In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to: The Cooley Dickinson Hospital Critical Care Unit P.O. Box 329 Northampton, MA 01061 or Dakin Humane Society 163 Montague Rd. Leverett, MA 01054.





PostHeaderIcon CLAIRE KURTZ of PELHAM, MASS, July 2, 1946 – February 27, 2016



Amherst, Claire Kurtz died February 27 from bile duct cancer, after a nearly 4 year journey.  She was surrounded by close friends, a loving family and wonderful health care providers. 


Claire was born in Washington, DC and graduated from University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA-Anthropology) and U-Mass, Amherst (M.Ed). She met Steve, her gentle soulmate and the love of her life, in Brazil and they married in 1968. He filled her life with music and natural beauty and was her constant companion and caregiver through her illness. They made their home in Pelham, MA and co-founded and worked at the Holyoke Street School, an alternative school for high school dropouts. 


Claire dedicated her professional life to working with families in the Early Intervention field. This included 21 years with the Reach Early Intervention Program as a developmental educator and team leader, and 13 years for Hampshire Educational Collaborative as an early childhood consultant. 


Claire and Steve had their radiant, intrepid daughter Corey in 1979, followed by feisty and jubilant Michael in 1981. She will be deeply missed by Steve and the children, including son-in-law, Uri, and beautiful and sweet grandson Daniel, and by her sister and brother-in-law, Paula and William Lecky, her brother and sister-in-law, Alan Kurtz and April Stein, and their families, and by long-time friends and former colleagues. 


Claire was extremely grateful for the support of her circle without whom she couldn’t have possibly sustained hope and health for so long. 


The family welcomes visitors to a celebration of Claire’s life on Sunday, April 3 at 11:00am at the Jewish Community of Amherst, 742 Main St., Amherst, MA 01002. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Abortion Rights Fund of Western Mass, PO Box 2162, Amherst MA 01004-2162 or Cancer Connection, 41 Locust St., Northampton MA 01060. Memorial register at





PostHeaderIcon MONA SYMONDS KEEDY of AMHERST, MASS, November 2, 1935 – February 24, 2016


Mona (Symonds) Keedy, 80, of Amherst, died peacefully, at home on February 24, 2016.   In the weeks leading up to her death she was surrounded by her loving family and many dear friends. 


Born in Hartford, she was the daughter of the late Stephen E. Keedy and Mildred B. Keedy. She attended the Springfield public schools and graduated from Commerce High School in 1954.   Mona worked as a bookkeeper for many years, and later as an independent insurance agent, eventually owning a successful insurance agency for 22 years. 


She and her late husband, Daniel A. Keedy spent the majority of their 49 years of marriage living in their Amherst home where they raised their family.  Mona is survived by her daughter, Diane K. Cody and her husband David W. Cody, of Belchertown; her son, Sanford Keedy, and his wife Andrea M. Keedy, of Amherst; her son, Philip D. Keedy and his wife Misty J. Keedy, of Sturbridge; her son, Glenn A. Keedy and his wife Deborah Grisaru-Keedy of East Longmeadow; her daughter, Beth K. Takamori and her husband Kevin H.  Takamori of Honolulu, Hawaii; her 10 grandchildren, Leah M. Phillips, Alex Grisaru, Carolyn Ben Slama, Brian Grisaru, Anna L. Cody, Dylan H.Takamori, Jonathan T. Cody, Amanda K. Keedy, Vanessa E. Beauregard,  Hayden W. Keedy; and her 4 great grandchildren, Joshua D. Phillips, Jack H. Phillips, Lenda Ben Slama and Mia Grisaru.  She also leaves her brother Robert Symonds of Ormond Beach, Florida, her brother Thomas Symonds of Ormond Beach, Florida and her sister Karen Harris of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.  


Mona was a blessing to all who knew her.  She will be remembered as a beloved wife, loving mother, caring sister, adoring Oma, and a good friend.  Her family was her pride and joy. The legacy of Mona’s kind spirit, passion for traveling, love of dancing, competitive nature for a good card game, and zest for life will live on through all the lives she touched. 


A celebration of her life is planned for June 4, 2016 at 10 am at the South Congregational Church, 1066 South East Street, Amherst, Massachusetts, open to all who wish to attend.  


In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Hospice-Cooley Dickinson, 168 Industrial Drive, Northampton, MA 01060.

PostHeaderIcon PHYLLIS ROBINSON HERONEMUS of AMHERST, MA, November 27, 1926 – February 22, 2016



Phyllis Robinson Heronemus passed away peacefully at her home in Applewood, Amherst, MA February 22, 2016.


Born November 27, 1926 in Flushing, Long Island, NY to Phillip Alexander and Eleanor Adams Hill Robinson. She grew up in Manchester, NH, spending her summers at Camp Waukeela and on the Island of New Castle. For the weeks preceding her death, Phyllis was surrounded by her children and was ultimately under the care of the Hospice of the Fisher Home.  She was 89. She was predeceased by her husband William. E. Heronemus in 2002. Phyllis is survived by her six children and their families; Lee Martin, Ellen Bryan (Randy), Marcia Heronemus-Pate (Michael), Robert Heronemus (Elizabeth), Peter Heronemus and David Heronemus (Laurie). 


Phyl was the epitome of a lady; poised impeccable, positive, selfless and always setting the example. She was elegantly casual- always engaging and inviting. She also loved all games and sports that keep score. Phyl had a fierce competitor spirit along with her loving heart.  She particularly enjoyed cribbage, tennis, golf and bridge.


She attended the University of New Hampshire, enjoying her Chi Omega sorority before marrying Bill Heronemus, whom she met at 17 while climbing the rocks in New Castle, NH. During her 20 years as a Naval Officer’s wife every set of orders were treated as an opportunity and the arrival of a moving truck meant that another adventure was on the horizon.  She and Bill lived on various US bases as well as in Hawaii before it was a state and Bath, England, traveling extensively throughout Southern England and Europe.  The Heronemus family moved to and settled in Amherst in 1969 when Bill Heronemus became actively engaged as a professor of engineering at UMass, focusing on renewable energy.  She continued traveling her entire life and enjoyed many cruises with her children and dear friends. She made it to all 50 states and Puerto Rico!  Although she remained in touch with her Manchester grammar and high school friends, it wasn’t until her Amherst days that she could have long-term dear friendships she treasured; sharing lives in a natural, ongoing way through these last 47 years.


Her children are very thankful for all the Applewood staff who made her last 11 years a comfortable, fun and delightful experience. They have said, “She will be remembered for her love of animals (particularly her Brutus who accompanied her to Applewood), her devotion to her children and grandchildren, a terrific laugh, a bright smile and beautiful eyes”. We, her children and her dear friends, will hear her voice for the rest of our lives speaking one of her many classic expressions with her unique intonation.  May you rest peacefully in heaven, Mom.  “Good-bye, dear.”


Phyllis was a member of South Congregational Church in South Amherst. The Douglass Funeral Home of Amherst is in charge of her arrangements.  Per her wishes there will be no services and her ashes will be spread along the waters off of New Castle beach, joining her husband Bill and other relatives.



PostHeaderIcon EUGENE FRANCIS PATENAUDE of AMHERST, MASS, February 12, 1955 – February 13, 2016


Amherst, Eugene Francis Patenaude passed away at his home in Amherst on February 13, 2016 at the age of 61.


Gene was born February 12, 1955 in Fall River to Alcide and Ella Patenaude, the second of four brothers. He attended school in Springfield and received a bachelors degree from UMass Amherst.  He worked as a builder and contractor, building beautiful homes in the Amherst area. He loved being a part of the Amherst community, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and local theater. He was known for his outgoing and giving nature, love of cooking, and enduring sense of humor.


He leaves his two daughters, Maureen and Laura Maher-Patenaude, his brothers Robert, Michael, and Raymond, several nieces and nephews, and will be remembered fondly by all those who knew and loved him.


Memorial contributions may be made to Not Bread Alone, at the First Congregational Church in Amherst, 165 Main Street. A Memorial Service in his honor will be held on March 19, at 2pm at the First Congregational Church.




PostHeaderIcon JOHN E. BRITT of FLORENCE, MASS, September 20, 1955 – February 9, 2016





Florence, John E. Britt, 60, passed away February 9, 2016 at his home in Florence. Those who knew John will remember his epic drum playing and his love of rock music. They will remember his sharp wit, his direct, no-nonsense commentary, his hard-working, take charge attitude and in particular his absolute love for NASCAR racing. He loved his people, his family that is a collection of those both born and chosen.  If he loved you, you knew it. If he didn’t, you knew that too. We will all miss him very much. John was pre-deceased by his parents George T. Britt and Mary (LaRose) Britt, his brothers Thomas and Robert Britt, all of Amherst, MA. He is survived by his daughters, Angelique Britt and Samantha Britt,, his three grandchildren Andrew, Brandon and Rheia Thomasson, his siblings; Beverly Ross,  Richard Britt and James Britt, nephews Sean Britt and Todd Page and niece Amy (Page) Truong as well as many loving family and friends. He also leaves to keep his memory his long time love, his honey, Lynn Malo. In lieu of a wake and funeral, as was John’s request, we are holding A Celebration of John’s Life at the American Legion Post 28 in Florence on Saturday February 13, 2016 from 12pm-5pm. All who knew and loved John are welcome to join us in remembering him. Memorial register at




PostHeaderIcon BARBARA JONES of AMHERST, MASS, April 28, 1935 – February 4, 2016



Barbara K Jones, 80, of Sanibel Island, FL and formerly of Amherst, MA, passed away on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at Hospice of the Fisher Home after a courageous battle with cancer.  Born on April 28, 1935, she was the daughter of the late Helen (Lewis) Knowlton Young and the late Dana B. Knowlton of Walpole NH.  Barbara moved to Amherst at the age of 5, and attended Amherst public schools. She graduated from Amherst High School with the class of 1952.   


Barbara attended Fitchburg State Teachers College graduating in 1956 then taught second grade in both Amherst and Framingham schools.  After returning to Amherst, she received a Masters degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts in 1960. 


Barbara is survived by her husband of 56 years, Denison H. Jones, and their three children, Gerald L. Jones and his fiancé Karen Stiles Dunn and his children, Parker and Caroline; Wendy Jones Boisseau, her husband Greg, and their children Chelsea, Zoe, Morgan and Hope; and Andrew C. Jones, his wife Sheilah, and their children Griffin and Maddox. 


Barbara was Denny’s partner in DH Jones Real Estate Agency, which began as a two person operation located in their home on Amity Street.  In the late 1960s Denny, Barbara, Gordon and Beverly Neylon started the Jones-Neylon Insurance Agency. 


While living in Amherst, Barbara served in the Eastern Star, the Amherst Garden Club, the Amherst 40, and the Amherst Women’s Club.  She enjoyed volunteering at her voting precinct as well as at Wildwood Elementary School, Cub Scouts and Brownies.

In Florida, Barbara loved shelling, boating, and spending time with Denny and their many friends.  She was an active member at the Sanibel Island Historical Society, CROW (Care & Rehabilitation of Wildlife) and the Captiva Island Yacht Club.


A Memorial Celebration will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 from 5-7pm at the Marriott Courtyard in Hadley.  A private burial with be held by the family. 


Our family would like to thank the phenomenal staff and volunteers at Hospice of the Fisher Home for providing Barbara with relentless kindness and compassion.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of The Fisher Home, 1165 No. Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01002. 





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