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James E. Tierney, Ed.D.

July 17, 1933 January 8, 2010
James E. Tierney,  Ed.D.
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Obituary for James E. Tierney, Ed.D.

Dr. James E. Tierney, retired Superintendent of the Ludlow Public Schools, died on January 8, 2010, at the Soldiers’ Home of Holyoke, surrounded by his loving family.  He was born on July 17, 1933, in Pawtucket, RI, the son of the late Robert Tierney and Bertha (Sharkey) Tierney.  He grew up in Pawtucket, and graduated from Providence College, received a master’s in education/history from Tufts University, and earned his doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Boston University in 1969.  He served as an information and education specialist in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S Army from 1956-1958 serving in Wurzburg, Germany.

Following his military service, Dr. Tierney was a district scout executive for two years in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, after which his entire career was in public education.  His professional positions included history high school teacher in Groton, MA, business manager and middle school principal in Hudson, NH, and superintendent of schools in the Windsor (VT) Southeast Supervisory Union from 1969 to 1976.  From 1977 until his retirement in 1994, he was Superintendent of Schools for the Ludlow (MA) School System.  Not content to abruptly abandon his professional career, he later served as Interim Superintendent in Greenfield, MA, in 1995-96 and in South Hadley, MA, in 1998-1999.  He often visited classrooms and attended school activities, and was known as a tough contract negotiator as well as the superintendent who did not believe in snow days.

During his professional career, Dr. Tierney was an adjunct professor in the School of Education at UMassAmherst, and a member of the American Association of School Administrators.  He served as President of the Connecticut Valley (MA) Superintendents Roundtable, and on the Executive Boards of the Vermont Association of School Superintendents, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the New England Association of School Superintendents.  His community involvement included being a member of the Westover Galaxy Council and the Ludlow Hospital Capital Planning Committee.  As a member of the Crafts Inn Owners Association of Wilmington, VT from 1983-2008, he served as that board’s president for many years.

Dr. Tierney’s commitment to his family and their endeavors was of prime importance to him, and he devoted a great deal of energy and time enthusiasm to their endeavors.  Along with his beloved first wife, Carole, he nurtured the family Dance Workshop studio by utilizing his skills as bookkeeper, prop maker, lighting and music coordinator, and general first assistant.  These duties included organizing swimming parties, cooking for family dinners, driving people and props between various studios and performance venues, as well as finishing the family home basement for the first Ludlow Dance Workshop studio.

With nearly boundless energy and enthusiasm, Dr. Tierney undertook home construction projects that would discourage any ordinary man – and he recruited any of his children’s male friends (including potential boyfriends) to dig holes, run drain pipes, cut wood, build house additions or clear trees and brush, always providing specific directions and direct supervision.  He expected excellence, if not perfection - the results were truly astonishing, and have been the basis for many family stories, some of which may have hints of embellishment.  A priority project for the past several years demonstrated his tenacious determination –he was to deconstruct the beaver dam in the backyard brook faster than the beavers could re-build.  After several years, he reluctantly acknowledged that he had finally been out-maneuvered in his ability to successfully complete a mission! 

Dr. Tierney’s love for all kinds of music was a life-long joy to him.  The radio was always playing in the car or the house, and his collection of CDs is astounding.  In his retirement, Dr. Tierney expanded his life-long love for and expertise in photography, creating visual memories of family vacations and trips, dance recitals, Celtics basketball games, and the beauty of nature.  He took thousands of photographs during his many U.S. and international travels with his second wife, Rachel, and created photo albums for each of them.

Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Tierney had high expectations for himself and for others, and was straightforward in articulating his goals and opinions.  He was curious, reliable, honest, tenacious, generous, kind, assertive, witty, and true to his word.  He was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life.

Sadly, Dr. Tierney’s first wife, Carole A. (MacMillan) Tierney, who was his high school sweetheart and the mother of his children, died in 1988.  He was predeceased by infant daughter and his four siblings, Roberta (Tierney) Gallagher, Robert Tierney, Jr., John Tierney and Jeanne (Tierney) Richardson.

Dr. Tierney is survived by his wife, Rachel (Allen) (Chandler) Tierney, whom he married in 1993.  His six children, their spouses and thirteen grandchildren also survive him: Sharon (Tierney), Jeffrey and Taylor Knapp of Sunapee, NH, James E., Jr., Patricia, Bryan, Kelly and Katie Tierney of South Hadley, MA, Paul, Lisa, Matthew and Tamara Tierney of Belchertown, MA, Brenda (Tierney), Walter, Tyler, Alexis and Kyle Mikulski of Belchertown, MA, Scott, Holli, Emma and Sabrina Tierney of Franklin, MA, Carolyn (Tierney), Jeremiah, Molly and Abigail McBride of Belchertown, MA.
Also surviving are brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, including Charles Richardson of Pawtucket, RI, Robert and Patricia MacMillan of Englewood, FL, Stephen Allen of Hyde Park, NY, and Mark and Cheryl Allen of Encinitas, CA, as well as several nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces.



Family and friends are asked to gather for funeral services on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 11am in First Church in Ludlow. Burial will be at the convienence of the family in Brownsville, VT. Visitation for Dr. Tierney will be held on Tuesday evening from 3-7pm.
The family expresses our gratitude the wonderful and compassionate care that Dr. Tierney received from his caregivers at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, especially Polly, during the past several months of his illness.             


In lieu of flowers and in accordance with Dr. Tierney’s wishes, the family requests that donations be made to one of the following organizations whose associates have provided us with care, comfort, understanding, support, courage and love through this long and challenging journey with Alzheimer’s disease:
Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, 110 Cherry Street, Holyoke, MA 01040

Alzheimer’s Association, 264 Cottage Street, Springfield, MA 01104

Memory Disorders Clinic, Baystate Medical Center, 3300 Main Street, Springfield

First Church in Ludlow, 859 Center Street, Ludlow, MA 01056

Ludlow Boys & Girls Club, Claudia’s Way, Ludlow, MA 01056

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