Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Club's historic membership roster, part VII: members joining 1942-1961

Editor's note:  In previous installments of our historic membership roster, we've been able to provide a biographical paragraph on most members, largely thanks to the powers of Google to locate sometimes obscure data sources. It turns out, however, that our members joining before 1920 or so are far more Googleable than those joining in 1920 and later, so some of these bios are very brief indeed. As in prior installments, some of the basic information here comes from Harold Hutchins' research in city directories at the Berkshire Athenaeum. If any reader can supplement the information listed here, we would be much obliged — contact Martin Langeveld, the Club historian/webmaster, at the "Contact Us" link at the top of the right column.


Philip C. Ahern — 1907-1987 — Born in Boston; grew up in Newton, Mass.; graduated from Bowdoin College in 1932; upon graduation, he became a consultant to the National Municipal League on a study of the city manager form of government. In 1935 he was the first employee hired by George Gallup for his polling service. After two years, with the Gallup organization, he worked for four years with at New York advertising firm of Young and Rubicam before moving to Pittsfield, where he became executive director of the Pittsfield Taxpayers Association. In 1950, he became Pittsfield's director of administrative services, and in 1957 he became the first executive director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, a post he held until his retirement. He was also a founder of the Franklin County Resource Conservation and Development Council. He died in 1987 in Wiliamstown at the age of 80.

Rev. James Gregg — retired clergyman. This was Rev. Gregg's second period of membership in the Club. See his biography posted at his first date of joining in 1916.


Frederic Parker —Served as an attorney at Berkshire Life Insurance Company, starting December 1, 1942. He was a native of Franconia, New Hampshire, and graduated from Dartmouth College, and Harvard University Law School in 1931. After his graduation he practiced law for three years in Manchester, N.H., as an attorney for Home Owners Loan Corporation. He then practiced law in St. Johnsbury, Vermont for six years, during which he did some work for Travelers Insurance Company, New York Casualty Company, American Surety Company, and several fire insurance companies, before coming to Berkshire Life. In November, 1942, he was elected state attorney for Caledonia County, Vermont, but resigned that position to come to Berkshire Life. He died suddenly, at age 38, in New York City on 13 May 1943 after collapsing in the steam room of a turkish bath.

Lawrence W. Peirson — 1889-1968 — Vice President and Treasurer of C.S. Ferry & Sons Lumber Co. Graduated from Williams College in 1912. Board chairman for 13 years of Pittsfield Social Service Index; treasurer for seven years. Charter member of the Salvation Army advisory board. Deacon of South Congregational Church, served on its Scouts Council, treasurer of the Pittsfield Council of Churches. Treasurer of a local Masonic lodge for 30 years.  died in Pittsfield, 16 January 1968.

Jay C. Rosenfeld —1895-1975 — owner, with his brother Stanley, of Rosenfeld's Clothing Store. An amateur violinist, he served at music critic for The Berkshire Eagle for 55 years. He died of cancer at the age of 80 in 1975.

From his obituary in The Berkshire Eagle:

He was born in Pittsfield and graduated from Pittsfield High School in 1912. He started violin lessons at the age of 6 and by the tie he was 14 he was proficient enough in music to conduct an orchestra in Great Barrington. When he was 17, his family sent him to Brussels for two years of piano study. He came home for a vacation from Brussels, and his return to Belgium was prevented by the outbreak of World War I. He then took a job for a season in a hotel orchestra in Jamaica, West Indies, and played in a local string quartet to earn money to enter the Institute of Musical Art, later known as the Juilliard School of Music. He studied there until his father, Jacob R. Rosenfeld, had a stroke and he returned to help his older brother, Stanley, run the family clothing store — Rosenfeld's. He retired from the store about 1963.

In 1917, when the U. S. entered World War I, Rosenfeld enlisted in the Army and served in B Company, 359th Infantry, 90th Division, and saw action in France at St. Mihiel and the Argonne Forest. He was one of the national founders of the American Legion and served in 1923 as commander of the Pittsfield post.

Although he didn't follow a full-time career as a musician, he played in various amateur and professional groups all his life. His home on South Mountain Road was the frequent scene of chamber music sessions. His last professional appearance was on August 10, 1974, when he, two of his children (Peter, a cellist, and Jayn Seigel, a flutist), and his good friend, violinist Sheldon Rotenberg of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, presented a concert in the South Mountain concert series.

He served on the Pittsfield Park Commission, as deputy director of Civil Defense, as chairman of the USO campaign, as chairman of the Berkshire Advisory Council to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, as chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and as president of Temple Anshe Amunim and the Zionist Council of America. He also served as conductor of the Pittsfield Symphony and the Berkshire Community Orchestra in Williamstown. In 1934 he helped found the Pittsfield Community Concerts Association and served as its first president and as one of its leaders for the more than 30 years that the association brought noted instrumentalists, vocalists and ensembles to the city.

He served as The Eagle's music critic for 55 years, from 1919 until 1975. The South Mountain concert series began in 1918, when he was still in the Army, but he covered every event there beginning in 1919, and every Tanglewood event since the first one in 1934 (which was at the Hanna Farm, later the Stockbridge School), until shortly before his death in 1975.

He wrote for publications other than The Eagle. In 1952 he represented The New York Times at the first Casals Festival at Prades, France. He also covered the Casals festivals in Puerto Rico in 1956 and in Israel in 1961. In 1952 he accompanied the BSO on its European tour. He was a member of the national Music Critics Association since its founding in 1958.

His writings include a short biography of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the founder of the South Mountain series, done at the request of the music division of the Library of Congress.

Joseph C. Nugent —1898-1973 — Principal of North Junior High School (now Reid Middle School); served as Secretary of the Club. He was born in Pittsfield, and served in the U.S. Army during World War I before he graduated from St. Joseph's High School in 1920 and from Holy Cross College. He then went to work for Eaton Paper Company as a cost accountant, and at the same time studied accounting at LaSalle University. In 1922, with his brother Walter, he took over their father's business, Nugent's Variety Store. He sold that business in 1925 and went into teaching, handling the junior high school social studies program at Pomeroy School. After that, for almost a decade, he was in the commercial department at Pittsfield High, and in 1935 he became principal at Pontoosuc School for both elementary and junior high programs. He was promoted to principal of Central Junior High in 1938. Receiving his master's degree from North Adams Teachers College (now Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts) in 1938, he became the first principal of North Junior High School (now Reid Middle School), which opened in the fall of 1953. He served as secretary of the Family Service Association of Pittsfield. He died in Pittsfield on October 22, 1973.

Rev. Christian B. Jensen — Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Pittsfield.  He was born in Brovst, Denmark. He received a B. A. degree from the University of California in 1924, a master's at the University of Chicago in 1928, and a bachelor of divinity degree from the same university's divinity school. He also did graduate work at the University of Iowa, Union Theological Seminary, and Hartford Theological Seminary. He then served as assistant pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Hartford for seven years. He served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, N. Y. for seven years before becoming pastor of the First Baptist Church in Pittsfield, where he served from November, 1943 to July, 1957. While in Pittsfield, he was a member of the board of directors of the YMCA, and was president of the Pittsfield Area Council of Churches for two years. He was also president of the Massachusetts Baptist Convention and served three terms as president of the state Council of Churches. He was a member of the Pittsfield Rotary Club and served as its president, and was a member of the nursing council of Pittsfield General Hospital. During his pastorate in Pittsfield, the membership of the First Baptist Church grew from 1,000 to 1,400. In 1957, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ithaca, N. Y. He retired in 1966 and then served a number of New York State churches as interim pastor. He died in Ithaca on March 18, 1972.