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Elaine Whitman

1926 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Elaine Whitman Obituary
Elaine Linna Whitman

1926 - 2016 Elaine Linna Whitman of Hancock, formerly known as Elaine Kelly of Pittsfield, died earlier this week at 89 years of age from natural causes. She was known for her sense of humor, youthful attitude, and kindness. She was born to Clarence and Elaine (Carruthers) McConkey in 1926. Clarence was one of seven children born in the United States to John and Annie McConkey, Irish immigrants. Elaine graduated from the School of Nursing at House of Mercy Hospital [now Berkshire Medical Center] in Pittsfield in 1947 and married Richard J. Kelly in 1948. Her training prepared her well for the birth of ten children in rapid succession. Diaper pails, school lunches, and housework occupied her time for much of the next quarter-century. Beginning her nursing career anew in 1972, she worked her way up at Hillcrest Hospital in Pittsfield to become chief of IV Therapy. She left in 1981 to earn a B. S. in nursing, magna cum laude, from Fitchburg State College in 1984 and a master of education with a concentration in mental health counseling, University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1987. She was honored as a Nurse of the Year by Berkshire Medical Center in 1985 just as a struggle between that hospital and the nurse's union was drawing to a close. During the strike the union placed her at Taft Farms in Great Barrington as an apple and tomato picker. She enjoyed the outdoor work and the opportunity to bring surplus vegetables home on weekends. In her remarks at the Nurse of the Year ceremony she stressed that the door to advancement for nurses could be unlocked by one thingcontinuing education. Leading by example, she became a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. She was also a CADAC (Certified Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselor) and was board-certified in Clinical Hypnotherapy. She served many years as a psychiatric nurse at Gould Farm (Monterey), Canal Street Center (North Adams), and area nursing homes. In 1990 she married Perry G. Whitman of Hancock. The couple enjoyed many years of traveling, gardening, bird-watching, and arduous outdoor hikes in Hancock. She provided psycho-pharmacology services through her home- office private practice and as a clinical case worker for several area HMOs. She is survived by her husband, Perry; by her former son-in-law, William Herman of Dalton; and by her children: Robert Kelly and his wife Mary of Lee; Martha Kelly and her husband David Burack of Yarmouthport; Kathleen Kelly and her former husband Brian Flynn of Sandwich; Mary Rose Kelly and her former husband John Reidel of Sandwich; Anna Kelly of Pawtucket, RI; Rose Kelly of Waltham; Elaine Kelly and her husband Tom Pietropola of Hopkinton; and Margaret Kelly and her sidekick Shane Kelsey of Thomasville, GA. Elaine is also survived by her grandchildren: Kelly Herman and her husband Chris Gould of Bloomfield, MI; Dennis Herman and his former wife, Meredith Nation of Hollywood, FL; Jeanette Herman of Easthampton; Susan Kelly, of Portsmouth, NH; Erin Flynn-Renner and her husband Aaron Renner of Seattle, WA; Stephanie Anderson and her husband Matt of East Sandwich; Sean Flynn of Maine; Emma Reidel of Bedford, NH; Becky Reidel of Auburn, AL; and Jackson Reidel of Durham, NH. Elaine also leaves her great-grandchildren Dominic, Cameron, Natalie, Kristina, Shamus, Lorelei, Willa, Addison, and Audrey. Elaine was predeceased by her first husband, Richard J. Kelly, and her children Shawn and Linna. Elaine has willed her body to Harvard Medical School. Donations may be sent in her memory to two non-profit organizations dear to her heart: The Stephentown Food Pantry, P.O. Box 387, Stephentown, NY 12168, tel. 518-487-8606, and HospiceCare in the Berkshires, 877 South St., Pittsfield, 01201, tel. 413-443-2994. A celebration of Elaine's life will take place at Mazzeo's, 1015 South St., Pittsfield on June 4, 1-3 pm. Elaine's friends, acquaintances, and family members are cordially invited to attend.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on May 22, 2016
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