Mary Louise Perkins, mother, teacher, passed away from lung cancer on April 1st, 2019 at 91 years. In every aspect of her life, she lived life to the fullest. She leaves her nine children, Mary Chandler of Hatfield, Kathryn Chandler of West Springfield, John Chandler of Chesterfield, Sarah Sansom of Webster, Margaret Chandler of New York City, Anne DePalma of Marco Island, FL, Joseph Chandler of Florence, Gregory Chandler of Hatfield and Paul Chandler of Haydenville. She was predeceased by her daughter Elizabeth in 2002 and granddaughter Alicia in 2012. She leaves 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.
As a teacher, Mary Lou was an exemplary first grade teacher in the West Springfield Public Schools for 25 years providing innovative and exciting classes, a teacher’s teacher. She was an advocate for the developmentally disabled for 43 years, starting the first nursery school for the disabled in Westfield, continuing with summer camps, a developmental center and bussing for special needs children. She established and maintained a fund for developmentally disabled in memory of her daughter Elizabeth.
Mary Lou grew up in Lockport, NY, the second child of Kathleen Murphy and Adelbert Perkins. She was predeceased by her older brother James. She graduated from St. Joseph Academy in 1945 and the College of Mount St. Vincent, NY in 1949. She was married to John Chandler of Florence for 35 years. In retirement Mary Lou traveled extensively, always seeking adventurous trips, sailing among the icebergs in Alaska, cruising on a barge on the Canal du Midi in France, backpacking across Mexico and driving her motorhome across country winters. As a volunteer she worked for the Holyoke VNA Hospice, the Northampton Senior Center, and as an ombudsman for Highland Valley Elder Services. She sang with the Sweet Adelines for many years as well as the Sapphonics and the Timeless Tunes, a seniors band based out of the Northampton Senior Center.
She loved dancing and socializing with women, attending for many years the Golden Threads in Provincetown and the Silver Threads at St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. At home she loved parties, dancing and never missed an opportunity to empower women. She encouraged women to support each others’ endeavors. Mary Lou’s herstory is stored at the Sophia Smith archives. She was active in LGBTQ, supporting programs for the gay community. She was a firm believer in the saying “stand up and be counted” and as all her friends know “given a choice to sit out or dance, I hope you always choose to dance.”
Memorial donations may be made to the “Lizzie Chandler Memorial Fund” in care of Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, 333 Bridge St., Springfield, MA 01103.