Marshall Joseph Aronstam, 75, of South Deerfield, passed away at home Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, after a hard fought battle with cancer.
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Marshall was born in Burlington, VT, on Feb. 23, 1938, and was an only child to the late Ida Warshavorski Colodny and Allan Joseph Aronstam. After growing up in Vermont and graduating from Burlington High School in 1956, Marshall went on to join the United States Army. He spent a brief period of time at Fort Benjamin, Ind., before returning to Vermont where he would attend UVM, and later graduate from Johnson State with a degree in education.
Marshall was the devoted husband of Martha Robinson Aronstam for 49 years. Not long after they exchanged vows on Aug. 29, 1964, Marshall landed a job as principal of the Goshen Elementary School. Little did he know at that time, he was laying the foundation for what would be a journey of over 40 years in the wonderful world of education.
In 1968, Marshall, or ""Mr. A"" as his students would refer to him, became principal and teacher at the Sunderland and Whately Elementary schools. He made the move from Goshen to South Deerfield in 1973, which is where he and Martha raised their family, as she ran a home day care. It was 1977 that he settled his teaching roots firmly in Sunderland, and could be found swiftly walking the halls, with a smile on his face, until his retirement in 2003. For 26 years, Marshall also represented the town of Deerfield on the Franklin County Technical School Committee, until he retired in 2005.
His passion for teaching children overflowed well outside the walls of the school. Marshall coached youth baseball for 16 years, and played a major roll in starting a girls' softball program, known as the ""Lassie League"". When he wasn't setting the line up for his own team, you could find him, or hear him, in the stands cheering on his beloved Frontier Redskins (turned Red Hawks) at every event he could get to. From football to softball, and everything in between, his presence was known, just ask the officials! If that wasn't enough, he was also a season ticket holder for UMass football, basketball and hockey, to which he was a regular in attendance. An avid New England sports fan, he was happy to talk about his love for the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots to anyone who would listen.
In the 80's, Marshall found there were others who shared his enthusiasm for sports, specifically basketball. Come March, every year, they'd travel all over the country to attend the NCAA tournament together. This group of men eventually grew into an incredibly charitable pillar of the community, and in 1999, gave themselves a name, the ""Sunset Hoopsters"". They were, without a doubt, some of Marshall's dearest friends.
A common meeting place for the ""Hoopsters"" tended to be the Polish-American Citizens Club in South Deerfield. Marshall was not shy when it came to his Polish heritage, and was proud to have been a Lifetime Member, and serve as a Director and Secretary for 20 years. Through his involvement with ""the Club"", Marshall became greatly involved with the Relay for Life, and even helped his granddaughter organize the first ""all-kids team"" in Franklin County in the late 90's.
He was an active member and Deacon at the South Deerfield Congregational Church, where he helped organize the Adopt-a-Family program, and would make sure your coffee cup never went dry at a Church Supper. Marshall was also involved in the Rotary Clubs of Williamsburg, MA, and South Deerfield, MA.
How does one find the energy to accomplish even half of what he did every day? He would likely suggest starting your morning off with breakfast at Jerry's Place, followed by lunch from the BBA Polish Deli, and some spaghetti and meatballs from Holiday Pizza for dinner. Between meals, make sure to stay positive, and always be kind to others.
Above all else, Marshall's family was most important to him. He never let his busy schedule allow him to miss a single game, or recital, awards ceremony, or banquet for any of his children, or grandchildren. And the most important dates marked on his calendar were not that of birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. It was the first two weeks in August, when the whole family would vacation together in Maine. Two full weeks of nonstop lawn games, raft floating, card playing, fun-loving family time. But, it didn't matter what those weeks entailed, really. It was the ""importance of togetherness"" as he would put it.
Marshall is survived by daughter, Leslie Aronstam Wickline and partner Thomas Deskavich of South Deerfield; son, Stephen Aronstam of South Deerfield; daughter, Lauri Aronstam and partner Mark Durant of Greenfield. He was ""Grampy"" to Kaeli, Molly and Ethan Wickline, all of South Deerfield, and was overjoyed to have spent the last two and a half years getting to know his great-grandson, the ""Big Fella,"" Carter Marshall Malouin. He also leaves sister and brother-in-law, Susan and James Taylor Carter; sister-in-law, Priscilla Britton; sister-in-law, Mabel Calkins; and many nieces and nephews.
He joins those who have predeceased him including his daughter, Lisa Ann, and sister-in-law, Polly Riley.
There will be no calling hours, or funeral service, but rather, a ""Celebration of Life"", which is what Marshall did every day. This will be held on Sunday, March 2, at 2 p.m. at Frontier Regional High School, 113 North Main St., South Deerfield, MA, and will be open to any and all who would like to attend.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his name can be made out to the Marshall Aronstam Scholarship Fund, c/o Kaeli Wickline, 9 Thayer St., South Deerfield, MA 01373.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Wrisley Funeral Home, South Deerfield. To leave a message of condolence, visit: www.wrisleyfuneralhome.com.
Wrisley Funeral Home
90 Sugarloaf Street South Deerfield, MA 01373
Published in The Recorder on Feb. 7, 2014