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Elizabeth "Betty" Gionet

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PITTSFIELD - Elizabeth "Betty" Gionet, 81, died peacefully at home in Pittsfield, surrounded by family, on March 21, 2012.
She was born Elizabeth Ann Gleason in Lowell, Mass., daughter of Frederick and Jennie (Linscott) Gleason. Betty attended Lowell public schools and then graduated with a BS in Education from Lowell State College (now the University of Lowell), in 1952. After teaching in Newton and Chelmsford, Mass., she married Ralph Gionet of Shirley, Mass., in 1954.
They moved to Pittsfield soon after, where both spent long careers in the Pittsfield Public School System. Elizabeth first taught at Pontoosuc Elementary School until the birth of the first of their five sons in 1955.
She returned to teaching in 1964, first at Egremont Elementary School. Following that she taught Title 1 reading at Morningside Elementary School. Elizabeth earned her Masters in Education in 1978 from North Adams State College (now MCLA). She was the principal of Redfield Elementary School from 1979 until it closed in 1981. Elizabeth then served as Administrative Assistant to Superintendent Robert LaFrankie. In 1988 she returned to Egremont as principal, staying until her retirement in 1992.
Elizabeth took pride in the success of her students. She seemed to remember every child she had in school, and loved to share stories of her experiences. As a teacher, mother, and citizen, she was a vocal advocate of the ideal of excellence in public education being a right and a responsibility of all.
She was active in several community organizations including the College Club, the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, and RSVP. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, International Society of Women Educators.
She volunteered as a guide at the Herman Melville Home, and more recently, for many years, at the Tanglewood Visitors' Center and the Tent Club. In both places, she enjoyed sharing her love and knowledge of literature, history, local lore, art, and music. Recognizable by many Tanglewood concertgoers as "the flower lady" for her distinctive picnic table arrangements on the lawn, Elizabeth and Ralph, a ticket-taker, enjoyed concerts there for over 20 years.
Her many hobbies included bridge, mah-jongg, and other card games. She was a longtime member of the Wahconah Country Club. She and Ralph were supportive fans of professional golf, enjoying tournaments on their many trips to South Carolina and Florida, two of their favorite destinations of the many places they traveled.
Elizabeth and her family were longtime communicants at St. Theresa's R.C. Church.
Elizabeth is survived by her husband Ralph, her brother Fred of Saco, Maine, and her sons, Mark and his wife Patricia Tyson of Alexandria, Va., Bruce and his wife Barbara Finkelstein of Teaneck, N.J., Alan and his wife Kim DeVigil of Evergreen, Colo., and Gary of Pittsfield.
Elizabeth was predeceased by her son David of Fort Wayne, Ind. in 2008. She also leaves her daughter-in-law JoEllen Gionet of Bloomington, IN and her grandchildren Alex, Anna, Gabrielle, Genevieve, Clarisse, and Camille.
Funeral Notice: Funeral services for Elizabeth "Betty" Gionet will be Thursday March 29, 2012 at 10 am from the Dwyer Funeral Home, 776 North St., Pittsfield, MA with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at St. Ann's Church in Lenox celebrated by the Rev. Christopher J. Waitekus , pastor. Burial will be at a later date. Calling hours at the funeral home will be Wednesday, March 28, 2012 from 4 to 7 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to BARC or Hospice Care in the Berkshires, care of the Dwyer Funeral Home in her memory. Please visit www.dwyerfuneral.com to leave remembrances and condolences.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle from Mar. 26 to Mar. 27, 2012
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