John Lovejoy Jr.
1935 - 2020
John Moulton ["Toni"] Lovejoy, Jr. died in Palmer, MA on April 11, 2020, age 85, from complications of Covid-19. He had suffered for several years from declining health.
Toni was born on August 4, 1935 in Cohasset, MA, the second son of Major John M. and Olive C. Lovejoy. His mother was a nurse for most of her life, and his father a career Army officer. He grew up in Wilbraham and Springfield, living for several years at the Springfield Armory where his father was the Commandant. In 1946, Toni and his two brothers, Hugh M. ["Mike"] and Sam, and sister Lynn travelled by train and then ship with their mother to Yokohama, Japan to be part of the early, family-oriented Occupation Forces after the end of WWII. These were formative years for Toni, opening his world to an entirely new culture. His connection to Japan and friends from that period of his life remained life-long.
After the death of his father near Fort Benning, Georgia in May, 1951, the family moved north to Wilbraham. Only 14 at the time, Toni was the only member of the family with a driver's license, taking on adult responsibilities at an early age. He attended Wilbraham Academy, participating in football, track and theater, graduating in 1954. He then attended Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, graduating in 1958 with a BA in Literature and Theater. He received a Masters of Philosophy from UMass Amherst in 1962.
Toni was an artist, a poet, and a scholar, as well as a committed civic leader. As an artist, Toni worked in many mediums. He created stabiles and mobiles, one of which was displayed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York for many years. In the late 50's Toni became interested in the Folk Schools of Sweden and Norway and travelled to Scandinavia to further his artistic ambitions. There he became enchanted with the Swedish glass of Orrefors and Boda, and developed a treasured collection over the years.
Toni was the author of 3 books of poetry: But Up And Where Is That (1958), In Backyards of Childhood (1960) and Beginning Secrets (1963).
And as a scholar he spent countless hours combing the historical records of New England to piece together the history of African Americans in the Northeast prior to 1700. His research material is extensive.
Toni's professional life suited his intellectual curiosity to a T. After 2 years as a successful claims adjuster for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Springfield, he became a book salesman, traveling throughout New England, a job he truly loved, and a job that introduced him to his wife, Nancy Pellicia Smith, of Madison, CT. She ran a small bookstore and he came into the shop with an armload of books. They married in 1971 and had a son, Benjamin Cheever Lovejoy.
Both Toni and Nancy shared a passionate love of literature and learning for all their years together. Toni not only sold, but collected well over 12,000 books . He and Nancy enjoyed traveling to book fairs in New York City and throughout Europe.
After marrying in 1971, Toni and Nancy built a home on the top of Wilbraham Mountain. Toni was active in local and state politics, serving as a Selectman in Wilbraham for 20 years, from the 1970's to the 1990's. He was the appointed head of the Minnechaug Regional School (Re)Building Committee, among many other municipal jobs; and was a longtime leader of the Massachusetts Selectmen's Association. He ran once, unsuccessfully, for State Senate, coming within a whisker of defeating the incumbent, Stanley, the "Lazy" Zarod. He was also an adamant opponent of the Wilbraham Game Farm being lifted from permanent State Fish & Game control and turned into a quasi-park for special interests in the town.
Toni loved the quiet and the peace of living in the woods, he enjoyed his deer, his bear and turkey visitors. He loved visiting with neighbors, particularly if they came to his house thru the woods.. But he also loved the turmoil and excitement of national and international politics.
Every August, however, for at least 35 years, he and Nancy and their son Ben, when he was younger, would go to unwind for a month at Shore Acres, a beautiful retreat on North Hero Island, on northerly Lake Champlain where he would "putter around" the lake on his speedboat, swim in the fresh clear water and sit on his porch and read and read and read. He ended up selling his speedboat only to turn that fun into a silver Corvette, which he would upgrade every year.
Toni had a broad and yet eclectic intellectual life: he presented sermons on and off at the Wilbraham United Church in Wilbraham Center; and won an award from the Vermont Historical Society for his painstaking research on the history and circumstances of African American "citizens" in Vermont before 1700.
Toni leaves his wife, Nancy of 49 years; his son Ben now residing in Boulder Colorado; his granddaughter, Fiona; his older brother Mike, living in Bluffton, South Carolina; his sister Lynn Hallowell of Springfield, MA and his youngest brother Sam, of Montague, MA.
He would invite contributions to Heifer International, and to your local library.
We hope the memory of his strong sense of humor - and booming laugh - lives long after his passing.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by The Republican from Apr. 28 to May 2, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
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9 Entries
So sorry to learn of John's passing. His obituary could have run for pages. John was a man of many interests and talents, town government among them, and he will be greatly missed.
Joe and Marjorie Pessolano
April 30, 2020
Nancy and family We were very sorry to hear about John's passing. He will surely be missed by all who knew him. RIP Gill and Anne Turcotte
Anne and Gill Turcotte
April 30, 2020
Sorry for your loss . We are there Goewey daughter they just live around the corner from us on the mountain in wilbraham
Grace goewey
April 29, 2020
Ben, I have just learned what an interesting life your father led. Stories I wish I had heard when we were kids. I am very sorry for your loss.
Tom Halgas
April 29, 2020
I met John in the 1980s when I was a newspaper reporter covering towns. He taught me so much about the town meeting form of government, and made me laugh along the way. Wilbraham won't be the same without him.
Nancy Piccin
April 29, 2020
My condolences to Nancy, Benjamin and John's friends at his passing. John was never afraid to speak his mind or challenge the status quo, but his reason was to make things better. May he rest peacefully.
Ken Willette
April 29, 2020
Thank you so much for telling this amazing man's story. I wish we had a chance to meet him but it's always a comfort to know such people have walked this Earth. The children are so impressed with his life story, and we are all so sad for your loss.
-~The Streits
Nanci Streit
April 28, 2020
Had the pleasure of working with John when he was a Selectman for our Town of Wilbraham. John loved Wilbraham and made a constructive difference in the quality of life for our residents. Very bright, engaging individual with a passion for making a difference who will be missed. God bless John and my sincere condolences to the Lovejoy family.
Joe Bresette
April 28, 2020
Sorry to learn of John's passing
kevin moriarty
April 28, 2020
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