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Saying farewell to a loved educator

Friends, family and former students filled the Frontier Regional School auditorium on Sunday for a celebration of the life of Marshall Aronstam, a former Sunderland Elementary School teacher and principal. Recorder/Chris Curtis

Friends, family and former students filled the Frontier Regional School auditorium on Sunday for a celebration of the life of Marshall Aronstam, a former Sunderland Elementary School teacher and principal. Recorder/Chris Curtis

SOUTH DEERFIELD — If any more of Marshall Aronstam’s friends, relatives and former students could have made it, they would have needed a football field.

Aronstam died Feb. 2 at the age of 75, but not before helping to plan his celebration of life gathering and making more than enough friends to fill a high school auditorium.

The roughly 400 people who turned out Sunday afternoon to remember Aronstam filled the seats of the Frontier Regional School auditorium, lined the back wall and spilled into the hallway for an afternoon of tributes and music, the music selected by Aronstam.

Aronstam was a teacher and principal for many years, notably at Sunderland Elementary School, as well as a Deerfield representative on the Franklin County Technical School Committee, a secretary and director of the South Deerfield Polish American Citizens Club, a sports booster and numerous other things to other people.

“He was a principal, teacher, father, friend and to me he was my hero,” said his daughter, Lauri Aronstam.

Friends and relatives remembered Aronstam for his energy and kindness, describing a tireless volunteer fully engaged in his community, his students, sports, politics and people.

“At his worst he was more alive than some when they are at their best,” said his daughter, Leslie Wickline.

A show of hands found many of his former students in the audience. Deerfield Elementary School principal Douglas Tierney read letters from three former students, who remembered Aronstam for his good advice, good nature, tough love when necessary and support, in and out of school.

Aronstam was an avid sports fan, playing as a member of the Sunset Hoopsters in later life. Several gave “Hail Mary, full of grace, keep Frontier in first place” as a favorite saying of Aronstam’s.

“The fact that this is a standing-room-only crowd ... he would love this, not for his ego but to see all his friends,” said brother-in-law James Taylor Carter.

“We all have memories of this man and again they will pass on, they will not pass away,” Carter said.

You can reach Chris Curtis at: ccurtis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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