SOUTH HADLEY- Laura J. (DeMarco) Belsky, 85, of South Hadley, died June 13, 2012, after a long illness.
She was born in 1927 to Michael and Loretta (McLane) DeMarco of Rexford, N.Y.
Despite early life challenges, including losing her father in a work accident when she was 15, with the encouragement of her high school librarian, Laura pursued a college education at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, paying her way through scholarships and part-time employment.
It was at Bates that Laura met her future husband and partner for life, Ted Belsky. Laura graduated in 1949. She and Ted married in 1951, living first in Holyoke and then moving to South Hadley in 1956.
After many years as a mother and homemaker for her three boys, Laura earned her Master of Science degree from Mount Holyoke College in 1970.
She joined the staff at Holyoke Community College in 1970, becoming an Associate Professor in 1972 and continuing until her retirement in 1991. In 2009, Laura was recognized by HCC with the designation of Professor Emeritus for her contributions to the college.
Laura's life was marked by her quiet determination to pursue her goals despite pressures not to. She pursued her college career despite economic difficulties; she married outside her faith at a time of much social pressure against interfaith marriages; and she decided to pursue a professional degree when few women of her age did so.
Laura had many interests outside of home and work. She was very active in local politics and civic affairs, serving as a "Know Your Town" member for many years, including its president from 1992 to 1994, and as Water Commissioner for the South Hadley Fire District for many years. In addition, Laura loved to travel, including a very early visit to China in 1981, and she was an avid and surprisingly aggressive tennis player, a lifelong conservationist, bird watcher, and hiker. An avid Red Sox fan, Laura exchanged decades of teasing with her Yankees fan husband.
Laura is survived by her loving husband of 60 years, Theodore B. Belsky; their sons, Michael Belsky and his wife Karen of Wilbraham, Charles Belsky and his wife Mindy Burke of South Hadley and Richard Belsky and his wife Kang Liu of Hastings on Hudson, N.Y.; her grandchildren, Sam, Drew, Leo, Burke, Sharyn and Lincoln; and her sister, Michelle Norris and her husband David of Scotia, N.Y., and their children, David and Laurie.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Mary's Meadow for the wonderful care given to Laura during her stay there. A graveside service for Laura will be held at the family's convenience and a celebration of her life is scheduled for Saturday, August 4 at 3 p.m. at Willits-Hallowell Center at Mount Holyoke College. Donations in Laura's memory may be made to the South Hadley Public Library - Building Fund, Holyoke Hospice Life Care, 113 Hampden Street, Holyoke, MA 01040, Mary's Meadow, 12 Gamelin St., Holyoke, MA 01040, or a
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on June 19, 2012