LEVERETT - Doris Hill Gere, 89, passed away Wednesday (10-16-13) at the Buckley HealthCare Center in Greenfield after a short illness.
She was born Dec. 19, 1923 in Little Genesee, NY, to the late Lou and Ralph Hill. She was graduated from Bolivar Central High School and attended Alfred University in Alfred, NY, where she earned a Bachelor's Degree (cum laude) and a Master's Degree in Education and was the first female president of the student senate in the school's history, and where she met her future husband, Edwin Gere.
She later taught high school in New York and was an instructor of accounting and management at Alfred University while Edwin was serving as an Air Force pilot during World War II.
They spent the post-war years in Germany where Edwin was flying in the Berlin airlift. Berlin became their favorite city and they returned there many times. Coming back to the States, Doris and her husband moved about the country as his Air Force postings changed; her first three sons were born in three different states.
Doris and her young family moved to a farm in Leverett in 1957, that soon became known as Grubby Acres. She was a house mom as she reared her five children, but found time to become active in her community and work as a substitute teacher at the Frontier Regional schools.
Doris served as Leverett's Finance Director for many years, imposing a level of financial discipline of which Washington could only dream. She was elected to the Leverett School Committee and served as the chair of the Amherst Regional School Committee, where she oversaw the construction of the current middle school. She published and edited numerous works on municipal finance and made presentations on the topic throughout the state to local and state officials, school committees, managers and mayors.
Doris spent years supporting and cheering her children's athletic and artistic endeavors. She took in stray cats and stray kids with equal enthusiasm. Her surrogate son, Mark, moved into her house so he could finish his senior year at Amherst High School after his parents moved. It was not unusual to have one of her husband's graduate students living at the farm for a semester. The rules were the same as for her children: use proper grammar and table manners, and do your chores.
When the children were grown, she returned to work as the Program Administrator for the Institute for Governmental Services at UMass, where she was responsible for administering all of the Institute's local government programs for the state, including training, research, technical assistance and publications. She was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration and traveled internationally to locations such as Tunisia, Morocco, Malaysia and Austria making presentations for the organization. Doris served for years as the Treasurer of the Leverett Congregational Church and occasionally, unbeknownst to the congregation, paid the utility bills out of her own pocket when funds were short.
After her retirement, Doris and her husband traveled extensively and spent their summers at the family cottage in the Finger Lakes.
Doris leaves her husband of 68 years, Dr. Edwin A. Gere, Jr., as well as her five children, Jeffrey and wife Barbara of Frederick, MD, Jonathan and wife Rise Thornton of Montague, David and wife Claudia of Shutesbury, Barbara and husband Rick Olson of Dansville, NY, and Richard and wife Dayna Thacker of Atlanta. She also leaves her four beloved grandsons, Nicholas, Benjamin, Jacob and Christopher, as well as many cherished nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the staff at Buckley HealthCare Center for their compassionate care during a difficult time.
A memorial service will be held at the Leverett Congregational Church, 4 Montague Rd., Leverett, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 with a reception to follow at the Town Hall across the road.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made to the Leverett Congregational Church, PO 324, Leverett, MA 01054.
Published in The Recorder on Oct. 22, 2013