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Richard C Gregory
August 5, 1932 ~ May 31, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old
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Richard C. Gregory, age 90, passed away on May 31, 2023, at 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 St. Dunstan’s Choir School, in Providence, Rhode Island where he learned to sing and perform. He then attended The Choate School, Wallingford, Connecticut before matriculating to Yale, where he graduated in 1954 with a degree in English, followed by two years at the Yale School of Drama. While at Yale, Mr. Gregory was the pitch pipe for the famous male a Cappella group, The Wiffenpoofs. The Whiffenpoofs continued to perform and tour well into the 21st century.
After Yale, Mr. Gregory joined the United States Navy, where he was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade, serving in Guam and Washington, DC. 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, which has been played around the world.
After the Navy, Mr. Gregory took a position at the then Williston Academy, where he served 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 (1961-66); Founder and Head of Arts and Humanities Department (1966-73); Head of Fine Arts Department (1973-80; 1985-90; 1993-93); Director of Band (1961-65); Advisor of Drama club/ Theatre (1966-2004); Founder and Director of Caterwaulers (1965-90); Founder and Director of the Widdigers (1976-90); Housemaster of Ford Hall (until 1988); and Director of Music (1981-85).
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.
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 boy's 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 without any music, to old silent movies.
Mr. Gregory was most proud of establishing the male acapella group, the Caterwaulers at Williston, who traveled around the world to sing to various Williston alumni groups. 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 the costumes, which drawings were 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. Phillip’s Episcopal Church of Easthampton, Massachusetts, where he served on many committees, sang in, and directed the Choir, wrote music for 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, his nephews Stephen P. Gregory and George M. Gregory, Jr. his niece Catherine Gregory Boyle, seven grand and four great grand nieces and nephews all of whom loved and admired their Uncle Dick.
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 Richard Gregory can be made to the Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair at the Williston Northampton School, 19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, MA 01027.
A funeral service at St. Phillips Episcopal Church, Easthampton, MA will be held June 13, 2023, at 1:00 P.M., with a reception following at the Williston Northampton School.