Edward W. Blatchford, 76, of Greenfield Mass died Sunday, April 19, 2020 due to complications from late stage Parkinson’s Disease and the COVID-19 virus.
In addition to his beloved wife of 52 years, Claire (Howell) Blatchford, Ed leaves two daughters, Laurel Blatchford and her husband Bernie Kluger of Washington, DC and Christa Blatchford and her husband Thor Snilsberg of Croton-on-Hudson, NY; four grandchildren, Eleanor Kluger, Lucinda Kluger, Freya Snilsberg and Wynn Snilsberg; two brothers, M. Parker Blatchford and his wife Judith and Huntington Blatchford and his wife Sharon; as well as a brother in law, John I. Howell, Jr. and his wife Carol.
Ed was a lifelong educator and a passionate advocate for holistic education. Most recently, he was the co-founder and founding principal of the Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, which opened in 2003 and today educates over 200 students each year from across Franklin County, starting in grade 7 and going through grade 12. He was immensely proud of the work he and his many Four Rivers colleagues did to establish a model expeditionary learning program at the school, which empowered students through asking and exploring big questions grounded in their communities. Prior to starting Four Rivers, Ed and Claire ran an alternative school for two years called the Uplook School, based in Greenfield, MA.
Ed was born on April 7, 1944 in Boston. He was the third son of Huntington and Evelyn (Parker) Blatchford, and he was raised alongside his brothers Huntington, Jr. and M. Parker Blatchford in Wellesley. He attended the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, and then entered Yale University as an undergraduate in 1962. He graduated in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in American Literature. Upon graduation, he moved to Beirut, Lebanon to teach at the American University in the 1966-1967 school year. While abroad, he met his future wife Claire Howell in Oxford, England. When he returned to the United States, he enrolled in Columbia University and earned a Master’s degree in English literature. That same year, he and Claire were married in Greenwich, Connecticut on April 6, 1968.
Following their marriage, Ed was conscripted for military service in the Vietnam War. He appealed as a conscientious objector to the war, and subsequently enrolled in alternative civilian service. As part of this service, Ed was assigned to teach English literature at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama during the 1968-1969 academic year.
Following their time in Alabama, Ed and Claire moved back to New York City, where Ed began a doctoral program at Columbia University in English. However, he soon took a turn away from the academy and towards teaching, which set him on the professional path — and lifelong passion — towards education. He began teaching at the Garden City Waldorf School in 1970; this period was not only the beginning of his teaching career, but also marked the start for him and Claire of a lifelong study of anthroposophy and the spiritual teachings of Rudolph Steiner. Throughout their many years of married life, he and Claire maintained an active spiritual community focused on these teachings.
Ed taught English and woodworking at the Garden City Waldorf School from 1970-1978, before moving on to Buckley Country Day School, where he was an English teacher before becoming Assistant Headmaster. He left BCDS in 1987 to become Headmaster of the Country School in Madison, Connecticut, which he led until 1998.
In addition to his commitment to education and learning, Ed was a skilled woodworker. He made many beautiful pieces of furniture, household objects such as bowls, candlesticks and other serving utensils, and children’s toys that were fanciful yet durable. He was active in his woodshop until the last year of his life, often using wood picked up on his walks through Patten Hill and to High Ledges.
Ed and Claire were also avid walkers and hikers, and especially loved the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where Ed had worked in the Appalachian Mountain Club High Peaks Hut system while in high school, serving on the crews of Galehead and (1961) Lakes of the Clouds. Ed and Claire took their daughters hiking in the Whites every summer, and later in their married life summited 45 of the 48 “four thousand” footers — the peaks throughout New England that were 4,000 feet in elevation or above.
Because of the current COVID-19 restrictions, funeral services and burial will be held at some time in the future at the convenience of the family. The family anticipates that a celebration of life will be held at the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield once these restrictions are lifted as well.