Toy fund donation honors ‘best big brother’

  • Larry Fink Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 12/26/2018 12:55:55 AM

NORTHAMPTON – Richard Fink remembers when his older brother, Larry Fink, taught him how to play baseball at New Rochelle High School in New York, their hometown. He was nine years old at the time, and his older brother was around 15.

Their father had just died unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism.

“He put a baseball bat in my hand,” recalled Fink, now 82. “He was there for the adversity of our father’s early death. He took on the roll of being supportive, and introduced his brother to how the world worked.”

Larry Fink, who was a history professor, administrator, and athletic director at Smith College for many years, passed away in 2009.

He held a doctorate of education from Columbia University, and served on a few boards at local nonprofits including the Hampshire United Fund. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Louise Gross, and their three children.

In his honor, Richard Fink, who taught chemistry at Amherst College for more than 40 years and now lives in Brookline, donated a gift of money this holiday season to the Sidney F. Toy Fund with the note, “Larry Fink, Best Big Brother.”

That time on the baseball field foreshadowed who his older brother would become as a professor and public servant, Fink says.

“He was a guide, he was a mentor, he was a teacher, and we had a great loving and caring relationship,” he said.

In the public sphere, Fink remembers his brother as a passionate advocate for education, serving on Northampton’s School Committee for about a decade. He was the committee’s chairman when the current high school building was completed.

During his tenure as Smith College’s athletic director, he helped bring deserved recognition to women’s athletics, Fink says.

In private, he was the best big brother anyone could ask for.

When they were both young, Fink remembers excitedly telling his brother that he’d gotten a 98 on a quarterly Regents Exam, a standardized test required by the state of New York. 

“He said ‘why did you miss those 2 points?’” Fink said.

Later, Fink remembers how they’d talk on the phone often.

“We’d finish each others sentences,” he said. “It makes me happy to remember him in my life — he was committed to community work, and volunteering. He was the right older brother at the right time.”

The Sidney F. Smith Toy Fund distributes vouchers worth $40 to families for each child from age 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.

Berkshire Children & Families at 220 Russell St., Suite 200 in Hadley, MA 01035, verifies families’ eligibility and the Gazette covers costs.

The following stores are participating this year: A2Z Science and Learning Store, 57 King St., Northampton; Deals & Steals, 1 Pearl St., Northampton; Faces, 175 Main St. Northampton; JCPenney, 341 Russell St., Hadley (store only); The ToyBox, 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.

Donations to the Toy Fund may be dropped off at or mailed to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, P.O. Box 299, Northampton, MA, 01061, or made through Gazettenet at

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

Andy Castillo can be reached at

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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