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Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Leonard F. Von Flatern Jr.1932-2017

HATFIELD –  Leonard F. Von Flatern, Jr. (Len) died on December 24, 2017, at Hospice of the Fisher Home in Amherst after a brief, valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born in Woonsocket, R.I., the oldest son of Leonard F. Von Flatern, Sr. and Marguerite (Lebel) Von Flatern (Peg).

The family settled in Springfield and then in Wilbraham. He was a graduate of Cathedral High School. He assisted his parents in the family business, Len’s General Store in Wilbraham, until his enlistment in the United States Coast Guard during the Korean War. He served aboard the cutter Barataria and on lighthouse duty and lifeboat station duty around Bar Harbor, Maine.

After military service, as a young man, he served on both the Wilbraham fire and police departments. In 1956, Len enlisted in the Massachusetts State Police. After rising through the ranks, he retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, commanding officer of all field operations officers throughout the Commonwealth.

After retirement from the State Police, Len was the Chief Security Officer at Kollmorgen Corporation in Northampton from 1981 through 1997. In his senior years, he drove a school bus for Hatfield schools until he approached his 80th birthday.

In 1959, he married Helen R. Szawlowski of Northampton. They settled in Hatfield where they enjoyed their life together for 59 years. They raised two children, Cynthia Von Flatern (fiancée Joseph Berman) of Deerfield and Leonard Von Flatern III (wife Ellen) of Sunderland. Len was a director of the Three County Fair for many years until his death. He was a member of American Legion Post 344.

Besides his wife and children, he leaves his brother Ronald (wife Olga) and sisters Eileen Sheehan of Granby, Mikki Alberici of Cary, North Carolina and Lea Reed (husband Joe) of Hillsville, Virginia. He leaves his brothers-in-law Chester Szawlowski, Frank Szawlowski (wife Nancy) and Stanley Szawlowski and sister-in-law Marion Zgrodnik (husband George) all of Hatfield and sister-in-law Doris Szawlowski of Florence. Brothers-in-law Robert Sheehan, James Alberici and John Szawlowski and sisters-in-law Joni and Mary Ellen Szawlowski predeceased him. He leaves many nieces and nephews and his six beloved grandchildren: Andrew Pepyne (wife Rachael) of Houston, TX; Dr. Emily Pepyne (husband Conor) of Easton; Jonathan Pepyne (wife Mallory) of Sunderland; Caroline Emery (husband Thomas) of South Boston; Kristin Von Flatern of Shrewsbury; and Jennifer Courtney (husband Clayton) of Manchester, England.

The grandchildren were the light of his life and he and Helen made it a priority to support all of their endeavors, fun and serious. He was delighted to welcome and to hold great-grandsons Charles Pepyne and Theodore Emery this year. Len enjoyed his hobbies of hunting, fishing, reading, tinkering in his workshop and yard, watching sporting events, working out, chopping wood and taking drives with Helen and his dog companion Oliver. He enjoyed tag sale searches and always looked to find a useful item at a bargain for his friends and family. He loved the ocean – Weekapaug, R.I., Cape Cod and Maine. Len lived his life with dignity, ever the problem-solver and logistics guy, always trying to help others, and putting his family and community above himself up until his last breath. He leaves an indelible hole in the hearts of his family, who wish to thank his and Helen’s caregivers from Homewatch, Robin MacDonald of Whately, Kris Martin, RN and the compassionate staff at the Fisher Home.

Calling hours will be at the Ahearn Funeral Home, 783 Bridge Road, Northampton on Wednesday, December 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. The funeral will be held at Our Lady of Grace Church, 11 School Street, Hatfield on Thursday December 28 at 11 a.m. (Please meet directly at church). Burial will be private. Donations in Len’s memory may be made to the Three County Fair Association, 54 Fair Street, Northampton, MA 01060 or to the charity of one’s choice.