PALM DESERT, Calif. - Robert Thacher Ames, of Palm Desert, formerly of Amherst, South Hadley and Leeds, Mass., passed away peacefully at home on Nov. 15, 2012, surrounded by his loved ones.
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Bob was born June 1, 1935, in Natick, Mass., son of Robert Call Ames and Florence (Fisk) Ames.
He attended schools in Amherst, Mass., and following his love of music and interest in teaching, studied Music Education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he met Mary Ellen Boland. Bob and Mary Ellen were married shortly after they graduated together in 1957.
Bob spent many years as the director of vocal music in the Holyoke, Mass. public schools as he and Mary Ellen raised their three boys in South Hadley. He also directed church choirs, musical shows and organized the Bicentennial Chorus. Always concerned about the betterment of public education, Bob was elected to the South Hadley School Committee and served as its chairman for six years. His career later transitioned to sales and eventually to The New York Life Insurance Company, where he spent the second half of his career as the Training Manager for Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Bob spent the first few years of his retirement in Western Massachusetts, before moving to California in 2005 to be closer to his sons and their families. Bob and Mary Ellen were blessed with the arrival of their two grandchildren in California in 2005 and 2006, and Bob was elated to have been a part of their first few years, watching them grow into happy, smart and active children.
Bob loved the desert weather and lack of snow, and he and Mary Ellen joined the Sun City Singers, a popular group in their community in Palm Desert. After two years, he became their director from 2007 to 2009, and he flourished along with the singers. These were his happiest days in California - making music and surrounded by his family.
A small memorial gathering will be held after Thanksgiving near their home in Palm Desert. The family will also hold a celebration of Bob's life in Western Massachusetts next summer to allow family and friends from the east coast to remember him. In the meantime, those of you near Amherst may be interested to know that Bob and Mary Ellen made a donation in their name to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in the form of a bench and a plaque, as a remembrance of where they met.
Bob leaves behind his loving and devoted wife of over 55 years, Mary Ellen (Boland) Ames; his three sons, Kevin Ames of Palm Springs, David Ames of San Francisco and Stephen Ames of Menlo Park, along with their partners and spouses, Mike Langham, Donny Honda and Robin Young Ames; his two wonderful grandchildren, Emerson and Ellery Ames of Menlo Parl; and his siblings, Helen Morgenegg of Springfield, Mass., Donald Ames of Niantic, Conn. and Betsy Cobbs of Wilbraham, Mass., and his brother-in-law, Robert Boland of Pittsfield, Mass.
In lieu of flowers, Bob requested donations be made in his name to the Desert Regional Medical Center's Comprehensive Cancer Center in Palm Springs, where Bob received extraordinary care the past seven years, or to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (www.pancan.org), whose research and support were invaluable to the whole family.
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Nov. 20, 2012