Etta M. Walsh, age 69, a journalist, author, public relations practitioner, university lecturer, wife and mother died at the Charlene Manor Extended Care facility in Greenfield on July 28 after a two year long battle with breast cancer.
She was born in Central Falls, Rhode Island to the late Martin and Henrietta (Hapenny) Walsh, and graduated from Central Falls High School. Etta took advantage of the open enrollment policy at Rhode Island Junior College and then continued to the University of Rhode Island where she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. She then earned a masters degree in journalism at Boston University.
Her career in journalism centered on coverage of local news. Over the decades, Etta always seemed to find "great news towns" where she could find interesting stories that delighted her and her readers. Actually, it was Etta's intelligence, openness and enthusiasm that found the stories no matter where she was assigned. She worked as a reporter for the Milford Daily News, the former Middlesex News of Framingham, the Springfield Republican and most recently for the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She also was a copyeditor for a few years at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Etta was a member of the adjunct faculty at the Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston.
After retiring from journalism, Etta began a new chapter in her life as a volunteer at the Amherst Senior Center where she gained a new circle of friends and also became the president of the Friends of the Amherst Senior Center. She became an enthusiastic advocate for senior affairs in the Pioneer Valley. Also during her retirement years, Etta dedicated herself to writing four historical romance novels which await publication. Etta also enjoyed travel and spent vacation time in Dublin, Ireland, Paris, France and Quebec City, Canada.
Etta is survived by husband Dennis C. Vandal, a photographer and photojournalist, and a daughter, Tabitha Marie Vandal. A brother, Martin Walsh, predeceased her three months ago.
The funeral will be private. In lieu of flowers, any memorial contributions may be made to the Friends of the Amherst Senior Center, P.O. Box 933, Amherst, MA 01004-0933
Memorial register at www.douglassfuneral.com