Trees planted in hope, memory
Event honors women killed by their partners
Recorder/Paul Franz Erin Morrissey and Katy Morrissey water the first of five trees planted in Peskeomskut Park on Thursday evening in honor of domestic violence victims. Their mother, Vivian Morrissey was killed by domestic violence. Purchase photo reprints »
TURNERS FALLS — Organizers had a message of hope and vigilance for the 80 or so gathered to plant new trees in memory of the four Montague women killed by their partners in the late 1980s — Vivian Morrissey, Virginia Ferrer, Catherine Gochinski and Tracy Sheperd — the others killed since, and in honor of the survivors.
Mary Kociela of the Northwestern District Attorney’s office said the first tree was planted in Morrissey’s name following her death in 1987.
“We hoped and prayed that the community would start to come together and that we would be able to end the violence and end the murders,” said Kociela, director of programs for the NWDA’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.
Three trees followed the first, and three quickly succumbed to mowing damage.
David Detmold said last spring one tree was still alive, an acceptable symbol for the others, but by fall it was clearly dead.
Detmold got in touch with Susan Mareneck, director of the Montague Catholic Social Ministries, who got in touch with Kociela, and a committee formed to resurrect the living memorial.
Now, the park has five new flowering trees, beginning nearest Avenue A with a salmon-colored crab-apple, then a native Shadblow, a Japanese Tree Lilac, a Mount Saint Helens Cherry and a Snowdrift Crabapple.
Children’s librarian and Streetscape volunteer Linda Hickman said she selected the trees after extensive consultation for their flowers and their hardiness, rings of mulch will protect them from weed-whackers and volunteers will watch and water them.
Morrissey’s grown daughters, Erin, 28, and Katy, 27, watered the first tree as it was planted.
Erin Morrissey said she and her sister didn’t talk about their mother growing up, and are glad people remember.
Katy Morrissey said that if there is anything uplifting about the situation, it is that progress will continue in building awareness.
Kociela said a lot has changed since the late ’80s as the community has become more aware of the problem, and there is more to change.
“Let tonight be a renewal of our pledge to give a voice to those who do not have a voice,” Kociela said.
Montague Police Chief Charles “Chip” Dodge III and District Attorney Michael Sullivan led the assembly in the White Ribbon campaign pledge, to never commit, condone or remain silent about domestic and dating violence.
Dodge said the police force has evolved since the days when officers considered domestic violence none of their business or didn’t know how to respond, and he believes domestic violence is more often reported now. Nevertheless, he said he was surprised to find reports of domestic violence in town have decreased over the past 20 years.
Sullivan called the trees a symbol that the town and county remember and still believe that domestic violence can be stopped.
Four more women died in the area at the hands of their intimate partners in an 18-month period ending in 1989, and 17 women and one child have died in the area, to date, as victims of domestic violence since September of 1987.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257