Editor’s Note: Going forward as a weekly newspaper in Berkshire County, we at The Berkshire Beacon wish to acknowledge people who have made a commitment, offered change or improved a community or just accomplished one’s life goals.
Thus, from time to time, we’ll do a remembrance column written by the editorial staff. Most times we’ll charge the funeral home a fee for the obituary, but will offer a free photograph. Even though, we as a weekly, may not be timely with calling hours and services, the bottom line is that obituaries are the best read page in most publications.
LENOX – Robert J. LaChance, 76, of 269 Housatonic St., former chairman of the Lenox Finance Committee for many years, died Saturday at Berkshire Medical Center following a long illness.
Mr. LaChance was a numbers’ guy, opinionated to a fault and probably best described as a “curmudgeon” by some people.
State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli of the 4th Berkshire District told The Berkshire Beacon in an e-mail: “My dad, John J. Pignatelli, Jr., visited Bob before he left for Florida, and he’s glad that he did.
“Bob was a fiercely loyal friend to my entire family and will be sorely missed.
“His dedication to the Town of Lenox is unparalleled.
“He served for 40 years on the Finance Committee and helped to guide the town through some major advancements from new schools, water and sewer expansions with keeping an eye on maintaining affordability for all.
“We will never see the likes of another Bob LaChance again. He truly will be missed.”
Jeffrey Caligari, co-owner of Caligari and Sons Hardware Stores in Lenox and Great Barrington, said Bob was a long-time employee/manager at the Great Barrington store.
Bob was one of those opinionated people who would make a decision and stick with it. He was right, as right as one could be. Sometimes people agreed, other times not.
When it came to numbers, he was a master of figures, one former member of the finance board said.
Steve Giroux, a former member of the Finance Committee, noted Mr. LaChance was dedicated to the Town of Lenox and at times offered a note of levity at the board meetings. A bit of wit!
Joseph Nejaime, a member of the Lenox Finance Committee, said he always enjoyed working with him.
“He was always a good steward of public trust as his role on committees he served including chairman of the Fiance Committee.”
He was a member of the Infrastructure Committee, the Board of Health, and the Lenox Finance committee for 40-years where he served as chairman.
In the Town of Lenox Annual Town Report in 2008 Mr. LaChance wrote:
“We work closely with the Town Manager, Board of Selectmen and department heads during the annual budgetary process to ensure that taxpayer dollars are duly allocated throughout the various departments.
“Given the current economic climate and harsh fiscal realities facing the taxpayers of Lenox, we anticipate this year’s task to be incredibly challenging.
“As the economy continues to contract, we will continue to try to cut spending and identify new options for additional revenue.
“We will continue to look at the level of services offered to residents, and make recommendations based on the budgetary constraints and service levels provided to comparable populations.
“We continue to highlight significant cost savings and efficiencies for the town, such as shared services and reorganization across town departments. All of our recommendations and findings are presented to the Selectmen and Town Manager for input and review.”
In retrospect, Mr. LaChance looked at the town’s treasury as the peoples’ money and not a place to spend needlessly. He was protective of the town’s free cash or rainy day account that sometimes amounted to $3-$4 million.
Born in Williamstown on Aug. 11, 1936, the son of Alvah and Minnie Humphrey LaChance, he was a 1955 graduate of Williamstown High School.
He leaves his wife, Janet (Morris) LaChance; two sons, Bruce A. of Lenox and Todd J. of Cheshire; a daughter, Kelly J. of Pittsfield; and four grandchildren.
Funeral and burial services will be private. Roche Funeral Home is in charge.