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Richard Whitehead


1927 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Richard Whitehead Obituary
Richard Lee Whitehead

1927 - 2015 LENOX Richard Lee Whitehead, 88, died peacefully on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at Kimball Farms Nursing Care Center, where he resided. A civic leader for more than 40 years, Mr. Whitehead served on many committees and boards often as the chairman or president. The son of the late Florene Whitehead, he was born on February 26, 1927, in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Whitehead attended local schools in Altoona, PA before entering the U.S. Air Force where he served from 1945 to 1947. He graduated from Otterbein College in 1950 with a degree in political science, speech and dramatics. At Otterbein, he met his future wife, the former Shirley Ann Fritz. The couple married on August 19, 1950. After attending the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Mr. Whitehead returned to Otterbein in 1952 to serve as an admissions officer. He served as a personnel assistant with the Westinghouse Electric Corp. in Pittsburgh, as a claims adjuster for the Lumberman's Mutual Casualty Co. in Philadelphia and as personnel manager for Home Life Insurance Company of New York, before coming to Pittsfield in 1963 to be the director of employee relations at the Berkshire Life Insurance Company. Mr. Whitehead worked for Berkshire Life for 29 years before retiring in 1992. In 1968, he was promoted to vice president of personnel and company relations, and in 1973 elected senior vice president of administration and company secretary. Mr. Whitehead was named executive vice president in 1984, and board chairman and chief administrative officer in 1990. In the community, Mr. Whitehead was named the first president of the Berkshire Community Action Council in 1966. He also served as a president of the Berkshire County Chapter of United Cerebral Palsy and as vice president and director of the Pittsfield YMCA. In 1985, Mr. Whitehead was elected chairman of the Central Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Whitehead served 10 years on the Berkshire Community College Board of Trustees, including four as chairman; and two years on Berkshire Medical Center's Board of Trustees. In 2007, he received the Gladys Allen Brigham Award from Berkshire Health Systems Board of Trustees. He was the first recipient of the G. Fred Lincks Award for outstanding leadership from the Pittsfield Family YMCA in 1984. In 1986, he became the first recipient of the former North Adams State College's Greylock Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions that have had a positive impact on the college. He was elected president on the North Adams State College Foundation in 1977, and re-elected in 1980. He received the South Church Brotherhood Civic Award in 1968, and the Lawrence W. Strattner Jr. Distinguished Citizen Award in 2004. In further recognition of his contributions to the community, Whitehead received the Esther Quinn Award from the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce in 2005. That award is given to a member of the Berkshire community who has been involved in several volunteer efforts, and has continued to make the Berkshires a better place to live and work. Mr. Whitehead also served on the boards of the Pittsfield Urban Coalition, the - Berkshire Division; Adams Supermarkets; the Pittsfield YMCA; and the former Berkshire Bank and Trust Co. He was appointed to the Pittsfield Growth Policy Committee; was a member of the Berkshire Business Committee for the Arts, and helped found the community relations board at Barrington Stage Company. He served as chairman of the steering committee for a study of human services that the Berkshire United Way updated in 2002. A member of the Berkshire Hillsmen barbershop singing group for over 40 years, Mr. Whitehead in 1981 received the SPEDSQSA Noel Sears Memorial Award given to a member of the Hillsmen who had made the greatest contribution to the activities of the local chapter. Mr. Whitehead was predeceased by his wife, who died on October 26, 2013. He is survived by a son, David, and his wife, Jaruloch, of Defreestville, N.Y. and a daughter, Deborah Head, and her husband, Frederick, of Lee, N.H. He is also survived by two grandsons, Michael Head, and his wife, Becca, of Somerville, and Tristan Head of Hailey, Ida. FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral Services will take place at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at South Congregational Church, 110 South St. in Pittsfield. A reception will follow at the church. Calling hours will take place at 10a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22 at South Congregational Church. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to South Congregational Church.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Dec. 17, 2015
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