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521 West Main St
Phone: (413) 663-6523
Priscilla Shepherd

Priscilla Ellen Shepherd (Helfer)

Friday, December 7th, 1934 - Sunday, July 26th, 2020
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Priscilla Ellen (Helfer) Shepherd, 85, of Clarksburg, MA died Sunday, July 26, 2020 at North Adams Commons.
She was born in Pittsfield, MA on December 7, 1934, to John and Theresa (Klink) Helfer. She attended local schools, graduating from the former St. Joseph's High School, and later in life from Berkshire Community College. She married Harry Irving Shepherd on April 25, 1953 and they were together until his passing in December 2000.
In 1953, Priscilla answered an ad from Berkshire Life insurance company seeking "girls who are good at math," and was hired as an actuarial clerk-- basically a human calculator in the days before digital computers. In 1961 she left Berkshire Life to focus on raising her daughters, but the company kept asking her to come back.
She returned there as a computer programmer in 1967 and retired as a product development manager in 2000 (She was very proud that even programs she wrote in the 1970s were Y2K compliant!). When she retired, she had held her industry's FLMI designation longer than any other woman at Berkshire Life, having earned this university-level financial/business certification in 1973. After retiring, Priscilla served on the RSVP advisory board and volunteered with the Council on Aging, IUE Locals Retirees, Elder Services, the Quality Time Club, Habitat for Humanity, and Vita (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance).
...Priscilla had a curious mind and though she loved numbers and solving complex equations, she also loved poetry and musical theater as well as cats, the ocean, lounging in the swimming pool, and children--especially preschoolers. She subscribed to every magazine known to man and always read the Berkshire Eagle (and did all the puzzles) over a cup of coffee in a "#1 Wife" mug before starting her day. Her love of desserts was legendary, and she did not think twice about ordering a banana split in lieu of dinner. Many of her work colleagues fondly remember her glee at the daily pastry cart arrival.
Priscilla was a patient and loving mother and grandmother, spending many hours with her grandchildren, providing support for their artistic and intellectual endeavors. She never forgot a birthday or holiday and was always excited to spend time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, happily getting on the floor to play with Fisher-Price toys or blocks into her 70s.
She is survived by her daughters Sheryl Ann (Kevin) Fallon of New Lebanon, NY; Theresa Ellen Bak (Jamie Jangrow) of Clarksburg, MA; and Carrie Cecelia Shepherd (Chris Charla) of Seattle, WA. She also leaves five grandchildren: Eric, Nicholas, Amy, Deena, and Oscar; four great grandchildren: Arya, Kendra, Kaitlyn, and Evan; sisters Theresa Hillman of Gardner, MA and Claudette Skumin of Lanesboro, MA; brother John Helfer of Pittsfield, and many nieces and nephews.

FUNERAL NOTICE: The funeral for Priscilla Shepherd will be Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 11:00 AM at FLYNN & DAGNOLI-MONTAGNA HOME FOR FUNERALS WEST CHAPELS, 521 West Main St. North Adams, MA. Entombment will follow in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Pittsfield. There are no calling hours. Memorial donations may be made to Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter in care of the funeral home. To add to the Book of Memories, please visit
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Service Details

  • Service

    Thursday, July 30th, 2020 | 11:00am
    Thursday, July 30th, 2020 11:00am
    Flynn & Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals- West Chapel
    521 West Main St.
    North Adams, MA 01247
    NORTH ADAMS, MA 01247
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Deacon Bruce Ziter
  • Interment

    St. Michael the Archangel Mausoleum
    222 Pecks Rd.
    PITTSFIELD, MA 01201
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Kathy and Larisa and Hope Hutchinson & Family. sent flowers to the family of Priscilla Ellen Shepherd (Helfer).
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Janet Riddell

Posted at 02:04pm
So sorry to hear of Priscilla's passing. We worked together for a number of years in the Actuarial Dept. at Berkshire Life. She was one of the smartest women I had ever worked with. I think she was way ahead of her time when it came to computers. She was always willing to answers any questions and very patient. We worked hard but had a lot of laughs. One summer day when the boss was away and it was kind of slow, we sent someone up the street to the Friendly for ice cream sundaes. (Priscilla was "all in"). We were trying to be very quiet so as not to attract attention from anyone outside of our area. After a little while, when all was quiet, the only sound was Priscilla scraping the bottom of the container and enjoying the last bit of her ice cream. (We didn't get caught). Janet Riddell

Carrie Shepherd Posted at 08:54pm

I love this story so much! I always knew she worked hard and loved her job, but I'm glad to hear she had fun there too!

Louis Carrozza

Posted at 01:40pm
Dear Carrie, Oscar & family,
We are so sorry for your loss. She was a very bright and humble woman Amazing qualities.
Frances & Lou

Carrie Shepherd Posted at 08:57pm

Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Carrozza. I remember you so kindly hosted us at your house for a visit a few years ago at Christmas time, and my mom was so happy to be included in the visit. xox

Kathy and Larisa

Posted at 11:22am
With love, caring thoughts and deepest sympathy on the loss of your dear Mother.
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Joanne M. Wyand

Posted at 02:44pm
I worked as a computer operator and Priscilla worked as a programmer during the 80's and I remember her as always being very kind and knowledgeable when I had to call on her for help. I worked the third shift at that time so no one was ever happy to hear from me but she would always do her best to assist. If she didn't have a smile ready for you, she did have the curled lip-eye roll ready and either one was done with kindness and fun. An incredible loss for those who knew her.
Fondly Remembered,
Joanne Wyand

Carrie Shepherd Posted at 05:36pm

I can picture that curled lip / eye roll, Joanne. Thanks for sharing that memory! -Carrie

Heartfelt Sympathies Store

Posted at 01:52pm
Peace, Prayers and Blessings from your friends who love you in Seattle and Bend.
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