In Memoriam – William “Bill” C. Ames

NORTHAMPTON – William Crowley “Bill” Ames, 84, of 345 Haydenville Road, Leeds, passed away peacefully Monday, Feb. 22, at Linda Manor Assisted Living Facility. Bill was born July 20, 1931, in Northampton, the son of Harold L. Ames and Effie (Crowley) Ames. He was raised in a large family in the Elm Street area of town, where he continued to live until his move to Linda Manor last year.

Bill attended local schools, beginning with Vernon Street School and graduating from Northampton High School in 1949. After completing a post graduate year at Hebron Academy in Maine, he studied history at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, from which he graduated in 1954. Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after college and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, as the Korean conflict wound down. After his stint in the Army, he attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he earned a masters degree in education. In 1957, Bill began his teaching career at Frontier Regional High School in Deerfield where he taught history. After two years at Frontier, Bill accepted a position at Amherst Regional High School where he would teach for the next 31 years. He taught many classes in the social studies department, including a class on death and dying that would later help him deal with the loss of his wife Joan in 1990.

In 1964, Bill was elected to the Northampton City Council as a Ward 2 Councilor. He was a member of the Republican Party until the George W. Bush administration, when it became crystal clear that the party would never embrace the ideals he held dear. He had been one of a rare breed – a staunch liberal republican. During his long career on the city council he embraced many progressive causes that he would continue to champion long after his retirement from the council. It was fair to say that he was no “Sunshine Patriot.” His guiding principles were peace and equality. He retired from the council in 1993, only having lost twice during his nearly 30 years in office.

Bill’s volunteer activities complemented his commitment to social justice. From the Northampton Survival Center to the Interfaith Cot Shelter to the First Churches Capital Campaigns he embraced the idea of “getting involved.” These activities were his way of giving back to the community he loved so much.

It was at Northampton High School that Bill met a new student named Joan MacRae. He would marry her in 1954, and remain devotedly married for 36 years until Joan’s untimely death in 1990. While it is safe to say that he enjoyed work and politics, his greatest love was his family. He was ever supportive and would travel near and far to attend any event that a loved one was participating in. His love for his family burned bright, both in word and deed.

He is survived by his daughter, Jane Ames, and her husband Steven Suchecki of Orleans and their children Emily and Alison, his daughter, Sarah (Ames) Bennett, and her husband Bradford of Dudley and their son Christopher and his wife Kirsty, his son, David Ames, and his wife Grace of Weston, Connecticut, and their children Max and Chase, his son, Jonathan Ames, and his wife Susan of Norwell and their children Kimberly and Jeffrey, and his son, Mark Ames, and his wife Catherine of Northampton and their children Zoey and Charles. He is also survived by his sister Hazel (Ames) Feiker of Niskayuna, New York, brothers Roger Ames and his wife Sue of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Richard Ames and his wife Janet of Ridgewood, New Jersey, as well as many nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his sisters Mary (Ames) Flynt and Shirley (Ames) St. John and brother Frederick Ames. The family would like to thank the staff of Linda Manor Assisted Living, Hospice of Cooley Dickinson and Comprehensive Health Care for all the assistance and support provided during the past several months. Calling hours for Bill will be on Friday, March 4, from 4 – 7 p.m. at the Czelusniak Funeral Home of Northampton. A Memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 5, at 2 p.m. at the First Churches of Northampton, ( 129 Main St.) with a reception to follow. Parking for the Service and Reception will be at the rear of the Hotel Northampton. The internment will be at the convenience of the family. Donations in Bills’ memory can be made to the First Churches of Northampton, VNA Hospice Alliance of Cooley Dickinson, 168 Industrial Dr #1, Northampton, MA 01060 or the Northampton Dollars for Scholars, P.O. Box 60382, Florence, MA 01062-0382

Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 29, 2016