Brian A. Donelson, 82, a longtime resident of Rowe, Massachusetts, passed away on October,26 2021. He was born and grew up in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, and graduated from Arms Academy in 1956. He studied mechanical engineering at Norwich University and in 1960 moved to Los Angeles, California, where he was employed by Space Technology Laboratories as a computer operator.
STL was a prime contractor to the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and was a leader in the early days of the missile and space programs. In 1964 Brian was named manager of computer operations for STL’s new facility in Houston, Texas, adjacent to NASA’s Manned Space Center.
In later years Brian was manager of computer operations for Air Products and Chemicals in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and manager of data processing for the Pro Brush Division of the Vistron Corporation, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of Ohio. In 1975 he was promoted to plant manager of the Pro Brush Division.
In 1978 Brian formed his own company, CSD International Inc. CSD was the sole representative in North and South America of Machines Boucherie, of Izegem, Belgium. Boucherie is the world leader in the manufacture of toothbrush making technology as well as machinery for the manufacture of hairbrushes, household brushes, brooms, and injection molds. CSD International’s main office and spare parts warehouse was located on the Mohawk Trail in Shelburne Falls (now the site of the Shelburne Police Department) and the company had a sales office in Cali, Colombia.
Brian’s hobby was model railroading and he was particularly interested in the Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington Railroad, affectionately known as the Hoot, Toot and Whistle. After his retirement in 2003, he decided to write a book about this short line railroad and its effect on the people and industries along the upper Deerfield River. That decision resulted in a two volume history entitled “The Coming of the Train”. These two books trace the history of the railroad from 1875 to 1922 and are two of the most popular railroad history books written. One of Brian’s regrets was that he was unable to write a third volume covering the HT&W’s final years from 1923 to 1976.
Brian was predeceased by his loving wife Norma in 2018. He is survived by his daughters Debra Donelson and Cathy Currier, both of Brooksville, Florida, stepdaughters Julia Reid of Seattle, Washington, and Jennifer Gunyon of Terrace, British Colombia, stepson Stewart Gunyon of Montreal, Quebec, and niece, caregiver and personal assistant, Stephanie Bird of Heath, Massachusetts.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on November 20 2021, at the River Valley Christian Church in East Colrain, Massachusetts, of which he was a founding member. Burial will be in the family plot in Colrain’s West Branch Cemetery, next to his beloved wife Norma. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the River Valley Christian Church.
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