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About the Founder


Virginia E. (Fisher) O’Leary, Ph.D. Professor Emerita Auburn University

Pittsfield Native and Resident

“My childhood memories of Pittsfield are dear to my heart. I learned to swim in Pontoosuc Lake, to ride a bike in our driveway on Williams Street, to climb “the family tree” on East New Lenox Road. I went to first and second grades at Dawes School, third through fifth at Egremont and sixth grade at Plunkett. Because my home was on Williams Street, I went to South Junior High.

I hiked up Mt. Greylock with my youth church group, ate picnic suppers with my family besides the two lakes, attended performances at Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow and saw plays in Williamstown and Stockbridge. My girlfriends and I shopped at England Brothers and once we got our licenses drove up and down North Street on Friday nights, checking out the boys in the cars alongside us. As we drove through town, I proudly pointed out the buildings my father, a local architect, designed -- the Girl’s Club (now the Gladys Brigham Community Center), The East Street Medical Building (now the East Street Professional Building), and Adams Supermarket (now Miller Supply) among others. Pittsfield was prosperous in the 1940s and 1950s. But it was not perfect.

Virginia O'Learym Ph.D.

When I left for college, I declared that “Pittsfield was too small for me.” I wanted to see the world, and I have done that. My academic career took me to a number of universities in the northeast, Midwest, and deep south. Ten or twelve years ago, I returned for a week of music and dance in July. I had not been back in several decades and I wept when I drove down North Street as it looked so deserted and impoverished.

I have been back in Pittsfield permanently for over three years. It feels like home, despite the many changes across the last six decades. Things have improved dramatically, although there is still much to be done!

The purpose of Pittsfield Prospers is to engage the community in changing that narrative to foster pride and to ensure that Pittsfield thrives. Pittsfield CAN Prosper and we will know we have succeeded when we identify our home as Prosperous Pittsfield. If we work together, we can change the narrative. Join me!”

- Virginia (Fisher) O’Leary