John D. Courtney (November 11, 2001)
Please note: Sunday Morning, June 14, 2020 Remembrance Service at 50th Reunion.
We will honor departed members of the Class of 1970 at a Remembrance Service on Sunday morning, June 14, 2020, during our 50th Reunion. The service will be led by led by our classmate Rev. Chris Bryan. We hope you will plan to attend.
John passed away in Naples, FL at the age of 79. At our commencement, we were amused by the local custom of following the High Sheriff of Berkshire County in the procession. He was none other than John Courtney, Jr., our classmate, who served in the position from 1963 to 1978. He wore the traditional attire: top hat, cutaway coat, vest and bow tie. As High Sheriff, Mr. Courtney marched in our ceremony and carried a staff. At the conclusion, he pounded the staff on the ground and declared :“God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!”
Elijah Williams, brother of Colonel Ephraim Williams, was the County’s first high sheriff, serving from 1761 to 1776. John Courtney was the 18th person appointed to that office.
Born in Holyoke, MA, Mr. Courtney had seen action as a marine at Guadalcanal and elsewhere during World War II, and then served on the state police force and later as police chief of Williamstown until 1962. As sheriff of Berkshire County in the mid-sixties he became widely known as an innovator in the field of corrections. He became the first sheriff in Massachusetts to institute a work-release program for inmates at the House of Correction. He also established an education-release program in conjunction with Berkshire Community College. Mr. Courtney earned his bachelor’s degree from Williams in 1970 after taking classes there a few times a week for eight years, and he was awarded a master’s degree in criminal justice from the State University of New York at Albany in 1972. Later he served on the faculty of St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, and then pursued additional law enforcement work until 1989 at which time he and his wife, the former Lois Moulen, moved to Naples, where he served as director of security at the Registry Resort. At the time of his death, Mr. Courtney was employed at the Naples Beach and Golf Club.
Besides his wife, John was survived by his daughter, who is town clerk in Williamstown, and he leaves a son, John D. Courtney III of Pittsfield, a brother, Richard B. Courtney of Westfield, and six grandchildren. (iBerkshire.com, November 11, 2001 and Robert Heiss ‘68)