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Toy Fund: Beloved figures remembered

  • GREGORY STONE Stephen Petegorsky

  • The late Gregory Stone is being remembered through a donation to the Sidney F. Smith Memorial Toy Fund. Here, Stone, who died in 2016, takes care of the owl sculpture on Main Street in Northampton. Gazette file photo

  • Barry F. Wilby SUBMITTED PHOTO



@BeraDunau
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — One man touched the lives of thousands of students over his 35-year career in education. Another touched an equal number through his sculptures and paintings.

Educator Barry Wilby and artist Gregory Stone, both of whom died last year, have another thing in common as well: They’ve been remembered through donations to the Gazette’s Sidney F. Smith Memorial Toy Fund.

Wilby taught social studies for 35 years and coached youth sports at all levels in Easthampton, including serving as coach of the high school girls’ softball team. His service also included time as dean of students and assistant principal at Easthampton High School.

He was a mentor to many students, and Wilby Field was named after him and his wife, June, in 2011.

Wilby, a lifelong city resident, died in March 2016 at age 67. In his honor, $100 was donated by his brother, Bruce Wilby, to the Toy Fund last year, the fundraising drive sponsored by the Gazette each holiday season.

Bruce Wilby said he plans to make another donation in his brother’s name this year.

“It’s local,” he said, explaining why he chose the Toy Fund to donate to. He also noted the efficient way in which donations go to help families.

Indeed, Bruce Wilby, 67, remembers the Toy Fund from when he was a child. 

He also said that he donates in Wilby’s name to keep brother’s memory in the public mind.

Stone was an artist whose work can be seen throughout the Valley and beyond. Working as both a sculptor and a painter, his work includes landscapes, a bronze owl sculpture in downtown Northampton, and portraits of homeless and working-class people.

Stone died of cancer in September at the age of 69, though his memory lives on in his work, including a sculpture on the grounds of the Hampshire County Courthouse of a girl tending to an injured dove.

Stone’s paintings have hung at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and his sculpture of Anne Frank has been installed at a human rights memorial and park in Boise, Idaho.

In Stone’s honor, $50 was donated last year to the Toy Fund by a person who wished to remain anonymous.

Named after a former business manager at the Gazette, the toy fund began in 1933 to help families in need during the Depression. Today, the fund distributes $40 vouchers to families for each child ages 1 to 14. Eligible families must live in any Hampshire County community except Ware, or in the southern Franklin County towns of Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately, Shutesbury and Leverett.

The Toy Fund certificates are redeemable at participating local retailers to eligible families who can use them to buy holiday gifts at participating stores through Dec. 31.

The following stores are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; JCPenney, 341 Russell St., Hadley (store only); The Toy Box, 201 N. Pleasant St., Amherst; Target, 367 Russell St. Hadley (store only); Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, 227 Russell St., Hadley; Odyssey Bookshop, 9 College St., Village Commons, South Hadley; Wilson’s Dept. Store, 258 Main St., Greenfield; World Eye Bookshop/Magical Child, 134 Main St., Greenfield.

In 2016 the Toy Fund distributed $56,925 throug more than 1,400 vouchers.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be dropped off at or mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette at 115 Conz St. in Northampton, 01060, or made online through Gazettenet at toyfund.gazettenet.com.

Checks should be made payable to the Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund.