A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 13th at 1:00pm at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Easthampton (128 Main Street). All are welcome to attend a reception in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center at the Williston Northampton School immediately following.
Richard C. Gregory, age 90, passed away on May 31, 2023, at Fisher House Hospice Care in Amherst, Massachusetts. Richard was born on August 5, 1932, in Providence, Rhode Island, to George E. Gregory and Catherine B. Gregory.
Mr. Gregory graduated from what was then known as Choate Academy in Wallingford, Connecticut, before matriculating to Yale, where he graduated in 1954 with a degree in English. While at Yale, Mr. Gregory was the pitch pipe for the famous male a cappella group, The Whiffenpoofs. The Whiffenpoofs continued to perform and tour well into the 21st century. Mr. Gregory also attended the Yale School of Drama from 1955-56.
After Yale, Mr. Gregory joined the United States Navy, where he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant, serving in Guam and Washington, D.C. Mr. Gregory’s service in Guam inspired some of his musical creations, most notably his arrangement “Christmas Soup,” a hilarious rendition of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” that has been played around the world.
After graduation, Mr. Gregory took a position at what was then Williston Academy in 1961, where he served through the transition to Williston Northampton School and until his retirement in 2004. While at Williston, Mr. Gregory taught fine arts, English, humanities and music. He also served as the Assistant Director of Admission; Founder and Head of Arts and Humanities Department; Head of Fine Arts Department; Director of Band; Advisor of Drama Club/Williston Theatre; Founder and Director of Caterwaulers; Founder and Director of the Widdigers; Housemaster of Ford Hall; and Director of Music.
Not content to rest on the above laurels, Mr. Gregory endowed the George E. and Catherine B. Gregory Instructorship, in memory of his parents, in 2007. Williston Northampton also has an endowed chair in his honor—the Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair.
In addition to serving on numerous committees while at Williston, Mr. Gregory was particularly fond of—and noted for—being the longest Master of Ford Hall, the notable senior boys dormitory where numerous pranks, hijinks and general young boy behavior was to be found. Mr. Gregory could always be called on to assist with any musical production, and was noted for playing the piano to old silent movies.
Mr. Gregory was most proud of establishing the male a capella group the Caterwaulers while at Williston, a group that traveled around the world to sing to gatherings of various Williston alumni. He was also the Director and Founder of the female concert group, the Widdigers. Mr. Gregory wrote many of the tunes which the Caterwaulers delighted audiences with. The Caterwaulers fondly referred to Mr. Gregory as “Stump.”
While at Williston, Mr. Gregory, in conjunction with Ellis Baker, raised the level of the theater program to one on par with any other local professional theater. Mr. Gregory oversaw and drew the sets for countless numbers of plays, in addition to designing all of the costumes—the drawings of which are art masterpieces in and of themselves. He directed many plays both for the Williston Theater, the Valley Light Opera, and the Commonwealth Opera.
With Ellis Baker, Mr. Gregory was the founding director of the Easthampton Community Theatre Association, later known as the Hampton Players, which regaled the Easthampton Community from 1972 to 1983.
Mr. Gregory was a long-time member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church of Easthampton, Massachusetts, where he served on many committees; sang, wrote music for, and directed the Choir; and filled in as organist.
Mr. Gregory was a renaissance man: composer, director, and designer. He was a superb pianist and played violin, baritone, and tuba. Like Mozart, his preferred instrument was the viola. Upon his retirement, Mr. Gregory continued to write music for many organizations and particularly just for himself. His enormous talent will be greatly missed.
Richard is survived by his brother, George M. Gregory Sr.; his nephews Stephen P. Gregory and George M. Gregory; and his niece, Catherine Gregory Boyle. Richard lived a long and interesting life and will be missed by many, especially all those thousands of students who benefitted from his wisdom, humor, and musical genius.
A gracious thank you is extended to Elder Care Access, LLC, and particularly Sheryl Fappiano and Brenda Gendron for their kind and attentive care of Mr. Gregory in his declining years.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dick Gregory can be made to the Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair at the Williston Northampton School.