It is with sadness that we share with you the news of the death of our board president, Ken Dym, on Monday, April 4, 2022.
Ken and his wife Anne moved to Northampton from Leyden, MA, a little more than 10 years ago. Anne remembers that, although they loved their home there, as the years passed, they began feeling the isolation of country living. They wanted more sharing in their lives. They were looking for community. “We saw Northampton and building a house at Village Hill as bringing us into community,” she says. It follows that they were drawn to the idea of Northampton Neighbors.
Katharine Baker remembers when she first met Ken at an open house early in Northampton Neighbors’ development. “Lewis and Sally Popper hosted a gathering of residents of Ward 2 so neighbors could learn about the fledgling organization, and lots of people came. I did the presentation and ended it with a plea for help with grant writing, since we had decided not to charge a membership fee. From far in the back of the Poppers’ crowded living room, a man raised his hand, admitting, ‘I know how to write grant applications. In fact, that’s what I used to do for a living.’ That was Ken. His generous spirit, smarts, skills, creativity, and sense of humor helped us crank out the early grant applications that kept NN afloat when we were just starting out.”
That was the beginning of what turned out to become a significant part of Ken’s life here in Northampton. Anne remembers, “From that moment, Ken was drawn into the organization because he liked the people, the ideas, and what the organization was trying to accomplish.” The more he learned about Northampton Neighbors, the more he grew to believe strongly in the power and potential of the organization to help create the community we all wanted to live in—a community that is connected and supportive of one another. This conviction led him to join the Board of Directors in 2018 and become president of the board in 2020.
He was an exceptional leader. His skill, warmth, level-headedness, wisdom, and ability to provoke belly laughs infused every meeting. It turns out he was also brave. When he learned in the fall that he had pancreatic cancer, he was forthright with the board and expressed his desire to lead the organization as long as he felt he could do so responsibly. And he became involved in a number of new initiatives.
One of them was his idea. Before his diagnosis, he had been contemplating how we can take care of loved ones even after our death. He invited a small group of people to join him in thinking about what Northampton Neighbors might do to help answer that question. Then, quite unexpectedly, the question became personal: What can I do, how can I help my family manage affairs and ease their transition after I die?
The group decided to create a booklet filled with information and ways to organize what would be needed. After many months of research, discussion, and writing, the work is nearly finished. What better way to honor Ken than to make a memorial contribution* to Northampton Neighbors so we can complete and publish Ken’s idea, All in One Place: Practical Information for Peace of Mind; a free booklet for all interested members of Northampton Neighbors.
Northampton Neighbors Board of Directors and former NN Presidents Leigh Bailey and Katharine Baker
*You can donate online, or send a check payable to Northampton Neighbors to P.O. Box 231, Northampton, MA 01061. Please add “In memory of Ken Dym” to any checks, so your donation will be used to finish and publish the project he believed in so strongly.