Martha (Deane) Townsley passed away on Friday, May 15, 2020, in the comfort of her home in Apple Valley. She was 93 years old. Born in Somerset, MA, on October 11, 1926, she was the second daughter of Lendell Briggs Deane and Laura Bisbee Deane. Growing up, Martha would visit her Grandma and Grandpa Bisbee in Williamsburg, MA. She had many fond memories of summertime spent at her aunt and uncle Smith’s camp on Damon Pond in Chesterfield, MA. Upon her father’s death in 1942, she moved to ‘Burgy with her mother and sister, where she graduated from Williamsburg High School in 1944. Martha then attended Northampton Commercial College, and afterwards began working in the accounting department of the Federal Land Bank in Springfield, MA. On October 12, 1946, Martha married the love of her life, Ralph E. Townsley. Together, they bought the former Apple Valley Schoolhouse, made it into their home, and started their family. They lived there until “the Great Move” in the spring of 1959- when they moved down the road and into Ralph’s family farmhouse. This is where Martha and Ralph would spend the rest of their lives. As a farm wife, Martha was the bookkeeper- but she had many other tasks on the farm as well. She would often be seen feeding calves, milking the cows (and chasing them when they were out), running for parts, bringing meals to the hungry workers out in the fields, or- on a Sunday- coordinating an outdoor picnic with family and friends (especially during the winter). Never turning anyone away, the kitchen door was always open to the Valley kids and neighbors, as well as friends from near and far- all of whom enjoyed her meals, cookies, pies, and neighborly talk over a cup of coffee. Later in life, she could be spotted on a warm summer evening touring the backcountry roads with Ralph on a motorcycle. Among other things, Martha particularly enjoyed sewing and knitting; she spent many hours knitting hats and mittens, which she gifted to family, friends, and the Warm the Children Organization. She also had a keen interest in genealogy, and loved tracing her family’s ancestry back to the Mayflower and beyond. When Ralph was the Burial Agent for Ashfield, Martha enjoyed answering phone calls from people who were looking for their ancestors buried in the town cemeteries. By the end of the conversation, quite often she’d have told the caller, “Well, you’re a cousin of Ralph’s, on the Williams side.” Martha belonged to the First Congregational Church in Ashfield, where she was a member of the Junior Ladies Circle; she was also a life member of the Ashfield Historical Society, a past member of both the Shelburne Falls Women's Club and the Hamden Harvest Club. She was also associated with the Franklin County Extension Service. Martha is survived by her sons, Roland and Raymond, her three grandchildren, Seth, Ellis, and Ashlee, who were the twinkle in her eye, and many nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her parents, Lendell and Laura; her stepfather, Robert H. Parks; her beloved husband of 55 years, Ralph; her sons Richard L. (1951) and Russell D. (1968); and her sister, Charlotte Judd. Per Martha’s request, there will be only a graveside service, to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, P.O. Box 96305 Washington, D.C. 20090, or the First Congregational Church of Ashfield, P.O. Box 519 Ashfield, MA 01330.
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