Candlelight vigil to honor 45-year-old Shelburne Falls woman killed in hit-and-run


Staff Writer
Published: 6/15/2021 5:03:51 PM

MONTAGUE — A candlelight vigil will be held Wednesday in honor of Rhonda Thompson, a 45-year-old Shelburne Falls woman who was killed in a hit-and-run on June 8.

Mindy Decker, a longtime friend and coworker of Thompson’s, said the event will start at 8 p.m. in the backyard of the Farren Care Center, where Thompson worked as director of nursing. The informal ceremony will include a brief welcome, readings and music from the First United Methodist Church choir.

“Rhonda touched so many people in huge ways,” Decker said. “She made a difference in so many lives.”

Thompson had been walking with a friend on Route 2 in Shelburne at around 6:30 a.m. on June 8, when she was struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by Peter Toomey, 51, of Northampton. Toomey was arraigned in Greenfield District Court on June 9, where he pleaded not guilty on charges of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, negligent motor vehicle homicide and failure to stay in marked lanes.

Decker, a Greenfield resident, said groups of Thompson’s family members, friends and coworkers have been gathering to try to support each other in the wake of the tragedy. She suspects Wednesday’s vigil will be well attended, describing the Colrain native as having had “a profound impact on many people.”

Thompson was also dedicated to her work at the Farren, leading the vigil’s organizers to get permission to hold the event at the now-closed facility, which essentially merged with a similar facility in Holyoke called Mount Saint Vincent Care Center.

“Rhonda got us through the pandemic. She was over the top, and that’s why we didn’t have a single patient get sick from COVID-19,” said Decker, who worked as nurse manager of a unit at the Farren. “She would drop anything that she had to for the Farren, and for any of the employees.”

Outside of work, Decker said Thompson enjoyed getting outside, bicycling along the rail trails and paddleboarding. She was known for making s’mores with peanut butter cups, so Decker said kits with the ingredients to make them will be handed out to attendees at the vigil.

Reach Shelby Ashline at 413-772-0261, ext. 270 or


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