EASTHAMPTON, MA – Michael Charles Biegner, 64, passed away on April 21, 2021, at his home surrounded by his family who were at hand to bear witness, to read poetry to him, and to bid him safe journey, as they have done during the many moments of a life he cherished.
Michael was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in Franklin Square on Long Island. While attending St. John’s University, he met the woman who would become his wife of 40 years, Christine, and fell madly, ridiculously in love. The two moved into what they thought would be their “starter home” in Easthampton, MA, only to plant their roots firmly and build their life there for 36 years.
Michael graduated from St. John’s University with a BA in English and a minor in Education. After a brief career as a middle school teacher, Michael switched gears to become a computer programmer/analyst. He retired in 2019 from Canson, Inc. after 19 years. Ever the student, and with the goal of a post-retirement career in teaching, Michael continued his education at the Elms College. He obtained his M.Ed in Education in English in 2012 and was pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching.
Michael was an active member of Our Lady of the Valley Parish (formerly Immaculate Conception). He was a member of the Just Faith group, Social Justice Committee, and Mission Committee. Michael was passionate about serving those in need, and he volunteered for the Take and Eat Program, and Interfaith Cot Shelter Annex where he served as coordinator for ten years.
All who knew Michael recognized his love of words, particularly poetry. He participated annually in the 30 Poems in November fundraiser for the Center for New Americans. He has had poems published in Blooms, Poetry Storehouse, Silver Birch Press, Silkworm, WordPeace, Pondersavant, Necro Productions, Poets to Come, and Months to Years. His prose poem, “When Walt Whitman Was A Little Girl”, was made into a video short by North Carolina filmmaker Jim Haverkamp, and it has competed at various film festivals around the world. Michael was a finalist in the 2017 Northampton Arts Council Biennial Call To Artists.
In addition to his writing groups, Michael was an avid cyclist, hiker, P90X-er, yogi, and bird watcher. He was always looking to create, taking up acrylic painting in retirement. Michael was an expert at making meatballs and tomato sauce, and he was a passionate gardener with a keen green thumb for growing tomatoes. He loved basketball and was a fierce Celtics fan. One of his greatest joys was spending time with his two grandsons, and his proudest role was that of a loving grandpa.
Michael is survived by his devoted wife, Christine (Cook) Biegner; his son, Stephen Biegner and his wife, Anna Lenti, and grandson, Jude Biegner of Rochester, NY; his son, Daniel Biegner of Three Rivers; his daughter, Katherine Olbert and her husband, Matt Olbert, and grandson, Jack Olbert of Easthampton; and his daughter, Emily Cook and her husband, Donny Cook, Jr., and granddaughter, Ella Cook of Watertown. Michael was predeceased by his father Richard Biegner and his mother Francesca Biegner.
Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014. Always the teacher, he chose to create a CaringBridge blog to share his experience and teach us what it’s like to die. In his own words, “I will not turn away from what is to be. That is my goal. To show you a better way to embrace the last great power life has over us.” As the cancer progressed and treatments were no longer effective, Michael chose to go on hospice. The family would like to thank his team of compassionate caregivers: Mark Bigda, DO, Orion Howard, MD, the staff of the Infusion Department of the Mass General Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson, and Cooley Dickinson VNA & Hospice, in particular, Andree Leblanc-Ross, RN, CHPN.
A walk through calling hour for Michael will be held on Saturday, May 1, 2021, from 9:45-10:45am at Our Lady of the Valley Parish, 33 Adams Street in Easthampton, followed by a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 11:00am. Burial will follow at Saint Stanislaus Cemetery, Mayher Street in Easthampton. It is asked that everyone attending the services wear masks and maintain social distancing at all times. Live streaming of the Liturgy can be viewed on the OLV Easthampton page on YouTube.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Friends of Hampshire County Homeless Individuals, Inc., P.O. Box 60398, Florence, MA 01062; the Food Bank of Western Mass, 97 N. Hatfield Rd, Hatfield, MA 01038; the Cancer Connection, 41 Locust Street, Northampton, MA 01060; or The Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, 6th Floor, Brookline, MA 02445.
The GRAHAM FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION SERVICES, 18 Adams Street in Easthampton, has been honorably and proudly entrusted with providing for Michael’s care and services. Please visit rwgrahamfuneralhome.com for online condolences.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Michael Charles Biegner, please visit our floral store.
Friends of Hampshire County Homeless Individuals, Ins.
P.O. Box 60398, Florence MA 01062
The Food Bank of Western Mass
97 North Hatfield Road, Hatfield MA 01038
41 Locust Street, Northampton MA 01060
The Jimmy Fund
10 Brookline Place, Brookline MA 02445