Tag Archives: Williston Northampton School

Raymond O. Bernard ’77

Raymond O. Bernard, 65, entered Eternal Life on October 5, 2023, with his family at his side after a brief illness. He was born April 19, 1958, in Holyoke to the late Raymond O. and Rita (Guertin) Bernard. Ray (known as Rusty in his younger years due to his red hair) grew up in Chicopee and attended Williston Academy. He then earned a Bachelor of Science Business Administration Degree in Finance from Northeastern University in 1982. Ray worked for Bank of Boston, Ann & Hope and the Toyota Corporation. Always having an interest in health care, he became a registered nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing from Springfield Technical Community College in 1993. Ray worked briefly at Baystate Medical Center before his 20-year career working as a correctional head nurse for the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections where he retired in 2013. He was awarded several Gubernatorial Citations for Preservation of Life in 1995, 2003, 2004, and 2005 and Circle of Merit in 2004 and 2005.
He was predeceased by his infant daughter Elizabeth M. Bernard in 1994 and his sister Michele R. (Bernard) Asselin in 2021. He is survived by his devoted wife of 31 years Margaret E. (Kelleher) Bernard and his loving son Nicholas R. Bernard. Also saddened by his loss are his sister’s children Mathieu R. Asselin of Somers, CT and Margaux R. Lamirande of South Hadley and his brothers-in-law Richard W. Asselin and Timothy J. Kelleher of South Hadley and Patrick J. Kelleher of Marshfield MA and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Ray was immensely proud of his family and their achievements. He was very sociable with a generous heart and had a way of making others feel special. He had wonderful memories and experiences with sports and scouting and passed on his enthusiasm and knowledge to many by his involvement with coaching youth sports and scout leadership. In his retirement Ray enjoyed travel and cruises with his family and a treasured trip to Ireland where he had hoped to return.
An uncle introduced “Rusty” to fishing as a young boy, and this developed into a passion that only grew through the years. He became an avid fisherman and enjoyed many vacations in Maine where fishing rarely disappointed. Locally he treasured Quabbin Reservoir in his retirement. Great Pond in Maine was truly his happy place and he had returned from a month at Bear Spring Camps just two weeks prior to his illness. He was proud to recently have a trophy fish (with a story to match) mounted and displayed there securing his legacy.
Calling hours will be Wednesday October 11th from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the O’Brien Family Funeral Home, 33 Lamb St., South Hadley. Funeral Mass will be Thursday October 12th at 11:00 am in St. Patrick’s Church. For more information or to make online condolences please go to obrienfamilyfh.com. In lieu of flowers Ray would be happy to have any contributions go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Richard R. Francis, Former Faculty

Richard Reid Francis passed away on July 8th, 2023 with his wife Marilyn by his side.

Rick was born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1934 to Paul and Ruth Francis. He graduated from Choate School in 1952 and Wesleyan College in 1958. He spent 2 years in the Army from 1955-1957. While at Wesleyan he lettered in Football, Baseball and Track and earned Little All-American in football.

Rick joined the Faculty of Williston Academy in 1958 where he became the head football coach and a math teacher. He later added Basketball Coach and Athletic Director to his titles. Rick worked at Williston for 42 years, retiring in 2000.

Rick married Marilyn Koch on September 2nd, 1961 and they remained married for almost 62 years. Rick has two children; Jeff ’81 and Todd ’83. He has 5 grandchildren; Brooks, Chase, Grant, Sam and Sasha and 3 great grandchildren; Anthony, Cody and Caden. Rick was predeceased by his parents and his bother Paul “Frosty” Francis.

Rick was elected to the New England Prep School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the Williston Northampton School Hall of Fame. Rick served as the President of both the Western Mass Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and the New England Prep School Athletic Council.

Rick began attending Camp Monomoy (Cape Cod Sea Camps) in 1945 as a camper. He remained there as a camper and a counselor and eventually became the Program Director. This is where he met Marilyn, as her father Grant Koch, was the Director of Camp Monomoy. Rick retired from “Camp” in 2012.

Rick (and Marilyn) were avid sports spectators watching as many of their sons’ and grandchildren’s games as they possibly could. In their retirement, Rick and Marilyn moved to Cape Cod and travelled the world extensively for as long as they could.

There will be a Celebration of Life at Williston Northampton School on September 30th, 2023 at 1:00 PM. Donations in Rick’s name may be made to the Rick and Marilyn Francis Appreciation Fund at Williston Northampton School.

Robert S. Little ’73

Robert Shackford Little, 68, of Winchester, Massachusetts, and Laconia, New Hampshire, passed away surrounded by family on Friday, June 2, 2023 after a brief illness.

He leaves Mary Beth née Livingston, his wife of 43 years; his daughter, Kate Little; and his son, Matthew Little, daughter-in-law Erika, and granddaughter Eliana. He also leaves his sister, Jo Binette née Little, and his brother Geoff Little and his wife Esmé Little, as well as nephews, nieces, and cousins.

Bob grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts, and graduated from Williston Academy. He attended Bates College, and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. He also received a business degree from Northeastern University.

Bob spent all or part of every summer of his life on Lake Winnipesaukee, making many life-long friends. His passion was being on the lake in a boat: driving one or building one. As a teenager, he raced a yellow Tahiti in Class A Division water skiing, winning many trophies. Recently, he was active with the New Hampshire Boat Museum in Wolfeboro.

An avid snow skier, Bob travelled around the country skiing various mountains with family and college friends. He was a member of the Gunstock Ski Patrol. Bob was an extremely loyal and loving person, valuing family above all. He loved family traditions and holiday gatherings.

A Memorial Service is planned for later this summer.

Richard C. Gregory, Former Faculty


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.  

To livestream the memorial service, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/stphilipseasthampton

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.

Carol A. Steinheimer ’75

With great sorrow, the family and friends of Carol Ann Steinheimer announce her peaceful passing on April 24, 2023 at her home in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 65.
She was born on December 5, 1957 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia to David and Dorothy Steinheimer. Growing up in Dhahran and later Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia Carol lived life to the fullest and developed close ties with many friends. In 1975, she graduated from high school at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Mass. She kept many close relationships from Williston as well. Carol went on to receive her bachelors and MBA degrees from the University of Arizona in Tucson.
While advancing her successful career in software management, Carol moved to Denver for her dream job with EDS and lastly to Charlotte with Time Warner and Spectrum. In both places she enjoyed many of her friends from Saudi as well as making new ones. Carol always developed close ties with people and will be sorely missed by many.
Carol had enormous love for her mischievous huskies. Those huskies kept her busy on adventurous hikes in the mountains and chasing them down after their many escape antics.
Traveling was something that Carol enjoyed. She loved France and Italy particularly.
Ultimately, Carol found love in Denver when she met her boyfriend, Greg Bell. They eventually moved to Charlotte, NC and enjoyed the adventure of living in a new state. They decided to adopt a sweet greyhound, named Lucy resulting in no more running after huskies!
Carol is loved and remembered by her sister Jane, her brother Richard and her partner of 29 years, Greg.
Funeral service will not occur by request of the deceased.

Leon J. Pernice Jr. ’77

Leon J. Pernice Jr. passed away at his home in Fort Pierce, Florida on February 28, 2023 with his loving family at his side. Lee grew up in West Springfield Massachusetts and graduated High School from Williston Northampton School in Easthampton MA., where he played Football and Hockey. He attended Stetson University in Deland, Florida, studied at the University of Miami and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the Boston Architectural Center in Boston, MA. He was a licensed Architect in Massachusetts and Florida and worked for more than 40 years at the family-owned Architectural firm, Leon Pernice and Associates, Inc. At the time of his passing he was Vice-President of the firm. Lee was an avid golfer in his younger days. He competed at a high level in many local tournaments, charity events and qualified for the Massachusetts State Amateur Championship. He also loved mountain biking and spent many hours riding through numerous Western Massachusetts trails and Florida parks. Anyone who knew Lee knew his passion was being on his boat and on the water. Fishing was his favorite pastime which took him on adventures all the way up and down the East coast from Rockport, Maine to Islamorada, Florida Keys. He spent his final years living in Fort Pierce, Florida and fished offshore the Fort Pierce Treasure coast, the place he loved most. If he wasn’t offshore trolling blue water for Mahi, you could find him cruising the Intercoastal Waterways and the Fort Pierce Inlet, chasing down Snook, Grouper and Mangrove Snapper for a fresh fish dinner. He was always saying he needed warmer waters and his boat, the “SushiD’Lux” took him there. Lee was also a certified deep-water scuba diver. If he wasn’t fishing, he would spend his time diving and snorkeling reefs, mangrove flats and boat wrecks in and around Fort Pierce and the Florida Keys. Alligator Reef – “The Light House” off Islamorada Key was his favorite dive. Lee had an old saying – “Never leave fish to find fish” but he did it anyway. That’s just the kind of guy he was. He couldn’t stay in one spot for any length of time. There was always better fish to find and more live bait to catch – just over there by the shipping buoy or over the next reef. Lee leaves to cherish his memory his loving father, Leon J. Pernice, Sr., his brother and best friend, David, his sister, Lisa Pernice-Gomes (and husband, David), his sister, Nina Cunningham (and husband, Robert) of Bradenton, Florida, “Uncle Lee’s” nieces and nephews-Andrea, his godson-Greg, Mark, Allie, John, Anna and Sharlotte, several aunts and uncles, cousins and friends too numerous to count. He was pre-deceased by his beloved mother, Yolande Pernice. Lee lived his life on his terms and his sudden illness took him from us way too soon. He was a generous soul who loved God, his family and his friends and was always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need. He will be greatly missed. Calling hours for Leon will be held Thursday, March 23, 2023 from 4-7 pm at Toomey-O’Brien Funeral Home, 1043 Westfield Street, West Springfield, and a funeral Mass will be held on Friday, March 24, 2023, 10:00am at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 47 Pine Street, West Springfield. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at stjude.org or the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

Catherine McGraw, Former Faculty


A memorial service will be held on Monday, April 24th at 11:00 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst (14 Boltwood Avenue). All are welcome to attend a reception at the Inn on Boltwood immediately following.

Catherine Brooke McGraw, adored mother, educator, and mentor to countless students, died of cancer in Amherst, Massachusetts on March 2, 2023. She was 55 years old.

Until last year, Catherine was the Director of College Counseling at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Massachusetts, where she had worked since 2015. Before that, she had worked at Mount Holyoke College from 2008, where she held positions including Associate Dean of Admissions. She was the Associate Dean of Students at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia from 1999-2004, and the coordinator of Student Development at Carnegie Mellon from 1996-1999. She spent two years at the Mayan School, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. There, she taught 300 students in ten sections when she was just 23 years old.

Catherine had a passion for education and heartily committed herself to school communities. She valued working with international students and finding them a way forward that they might not have been able to imagine. She helped students understand they were not stuck, but could always make changes, adjust, and recalibrate. She saw working at a boarding school as a lifestyle choice, not merely a job.

Catherine enjoyed creating traditions and participating in established ones. She loved her garden and making her surroundings beautiful. Maryland remained home, even as she lived elsewhere. She loved spending time at Bethany Beach, and outdoor activities such as walking her dogs and hiking. (She drew the line at camping.) Catherine’s open manner and grace drew people to her. She liked to have fun and brought everyone around her along.

Above all, Catherine’s greatest love was her three children, who were the joy and light of her life. As she said, “The most important career of all my careers is being a mom.”

Catherine is survived by her children Jack ’19, George ’21, and Catie Spence ’24; her parents John and Barbara McGraw; and her brother Adam (Eliza) McGraw as well as a devoted extended family and many loving friends.

A celebration of life will be held in Amherst at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations in Catherine’s name can be made to the Catherine Brooke McGraw Scholarship Fund at the Williston Northampton School.

William L. Van Alen III ’78

William L. Van Alen III passed away Sunday, January 29, 2023. Will was born to Sydney Purviance Van Alen and William L. Van Alen, Jr. on October 22, 1959. He graduated from Montgomery Country Day School and the Williston Northampton School. Will was an excellent athlete; the captain and high scorer of his lacrosse team at Williston. During the summers of his college years at the University of Vermont, Will taught windsurfing at 3rd Beach in Middletown RI. He came in second place in the Worlds and was featured as the centerfold of Windsurfing Magazine. Early in his life Will’s sheer joy of doing things directly involved with nature and the great outdoors was well established. Lured by the compelling beauty of the lakes, Will moved to Minnesota in the early 1990s and never left. There he found a new extreme sport, namely Sky Skiing. Will loved it and through endless practice, attained a high degree of proficiency. Loving the mountains as well as the oceans and lakes, Will enjoyed going out with friends four-wheeling. He often came home covered in mud with a big smile on his face. In the winter months, Will loved snowmobiling and skiing. Going fast and facing somewhat risky challenges definitely appealed to Will. During those years, Will married, later divorced, and started and ran a successful roofing and siding business. He also loved spending time with his family in Northeast Harbor, ME. He is survived by his mother Sydney Blynn Toland, three siblings, Alexandra Van Alen Frazier, Dina Gibson, and Luke Van Alen, seven nieces and nephews, and two great nieces and one great nephew. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Wounded Warrior Project or Tee it up for the Troops. Services will be held at St. David’s Church on May 6th, 2023 at 11:00 A.M.

Benjamin L. Liang ’05

Benjamin Lambert Liang, 36, of Salt Lake City, UT, beloved husband, son and brother, died unexpectedly on February 4th, 2023 due to complications from a skiing accident.

Benjamin, called Ben by everyone he ever met, was born at NYU Hospital in Manhattan to Paula and Jim Liang on May 23, 1986, and made his entire family laugh from that day until the day he died. Ben was an only child for three years until the birth of his younger sister Katherine (Kate), whom he strongly disapproved of at the time due to her lack of eyebrows, and Margaret (Maggie) two years later, whom he largely ignored at the time, since she was a baby and he was more into sharks and raccoons.

As a teenager, Ben developed an unquenchable love for the outdoors and adventure sports, which eventually brought him to Middlebury College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 2009. While at school, Ben met the woman of his dreams, Melina Ward, and, though there is some debate as to when they actually had their first date, the couple began dating in their sophomore year. Ben and Melina married in October 2015 at the groom’s family home in Londonderry, VT.

After college, Ben worked briefly in investment banking and then moved to advertising technology, for which he was featured on the cover of AdWeek magazine in 2013. He went on to found his own company, Cliques Ads, and served most recently as Group Product Manager at Klaviyo, a marketing automation platform based in Boston, where he and Melina lived from 2013 until relocating to Salt Lake City in April 2022.

Ben was intelligent, persistent and fearless, showing little self-doubt, even when perhaps he should have. Throughout his life these qualities would result in one broken femur, many apologies to then-Vice President Al Gore after slapping him (as a toddler), a grandmother with a broken arm, a flying squirrel thrown out his bedroom window, countless instances of road rash, an overflowing dishwasher full of dish soap, a misunderstanding at Chilean border control, and 15 tires acquired for one car. He was endlessly curious, had obsessive amounts of focus, and always gravitated towards any hobby or sport that would inevitably become quite expensive: fencing, skiing, cycling, fly fishing, etc. Ben had the biggest booming laugh you’ve ever heard, and we’ll miss hearing it dearly.

Ben is survived by his wife of seven years, Melina Ward, his parents Paula and Jim Liang (of Jacksonville, FL and Londonderry, VT), younger sisters Kate Liang and Maggie Liang Marbley, and brother-in-law Aaron Marbley (all of NYC), Finley, his very loyal mini Australian shepherd, and Charlie, a generally grumpy bird who really only loved Ben and blueberries.

A memorial service will be held on February 18th at 1:00 pm at First Church Cambridge, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138. Interment will take place in the Spring in a family ceremony in Manchester, VT.

Those who would like to honor Ben with a memorial contribution are requested to do so through either Community Servings at 179 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 (617-522-7777) or the MSPCA-Angell, attn: Donations, 350 South Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130 (617-541-5046).

Michela Woodbridge-LaMar ’96

The world has lost a shining light with the sudden passing of Michela Elizabeth Woodbridge-LaMar on Friday, January 13 , 2023 at the age of 44. Michela was born in January of 1978 in Bennington, Vermont to Dudley and MaryEllen Woodbridge.

Michela began her successful journey in academic and athletic achievement at Pine Cobble School. A natural athlete with a charismatic-yet-humble leadership style, Michela was elected team captain of the Williston Northampton School’s varsity ice hockey, lacrosse, and field hockey teams. Michela continued her academic and athletic achievements at Emory University playing varsity lacrosse and graduating with honors. Wanting to make a difference, she proceeded to get her Master’s Degree in Public Health from UCLA. Her fast-burning career culminated at Molina Healthcare as the Associate Vice President for Strategy and Transformation.

Michela’s bright, friendly eyes, sharp wit, and infectious, heartfelt laugh could quickly melt the hardest of hearts. You couldn’t be around her without smiling. She met her husband Blake in 2011, and they shared the greatest of life’s gifts: a marriage bound by mutual admiration, adoration, and deep loving respect. They shared a passion for skiing and snowboarding, including heliskiing in British Columbia, yet always called Mammoth Mountain their happy place. A testament to her effortless leadership and thoughtfulness, at Mammoth Michela could lead a group of six people whose skills ranged from beginner to expert across the mountain to runs that matched each of their abilities, yet also had natural rendezvous points, so it seemed the group was always “together.”

The birth of Blake and Michela’s daughter, Ava, in July 2015, was a culmination of their joy. Michela was a loving and devoted mom who poured herself into helping Ava grow into a kind and resourceful person. Michela approached motherhood like all her other endeavors – with a gentle, fun spirit and steady gaze. She committed herself endlessly to sharing with Ava the wonders of the world. And, just like leading groups at Mammoth, Michela used her natural gifts to gently guide and help all family members navigate through the figurative ski runs of their lives, always coming together at the end of each day to rendezvous and share their experiences in the warmth of her presence.

Michela is survived by her husband, Blake LaMar, her daughter Ava, her mother, MaryEllen, her father, Dudley, her stepson Jackson LaMar, her stepdaughter, Tahna Sheek, Tahna’s husband Kyle, their children, Peyton and Parker, her father-in-law Blake LaMar, Sr., her sisters-in-law, Michelle and Yvette LaMar and the entire Woodbridge clan in Vermont.
Michela’s Celebration of Life will be at 2 PM on January 28, 2023 at Green Hills Memorial Park, 27501 S. Western Ave, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. Viewing: From 1 to 5 PM on Friday, January 27th, 2023; Semi-private Celebration of Life: 2 to 3 PM on Saturday, January 28th, 2023, at the Historic Chapel; Committal: 3:30 to 4:30 PM, on Saturday, January 28th, 2023, at the graveside. An Afterparty will be held at the LaMar residence at 5 PM. All are welcome. Please wear blue, Michela’s favorite color, instead of black.