PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Roland E. “Chief” Chaffee, 66, of 23 Williamsburg Terrace, Pittsfield, died Friday, April 27, 2018, at his home with his wife at his side following a short fight with pancreatic cancer.
Born in Monson, Massachusetts, on September 24, 1951, to the late Robert E. and Barbara Brown Chaffee. He was a 1969 graduate of Monson Academy. Continuing his education, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts, and did his graduate work at the Isenberg School at UMASS.
Mr. Chaffee enlisted with the United States Navy on February 11, 1970. After boot camp he continued his training and became a Cryptological Technician. If asked what he did in the Navy, he would always say, “I could tell you but then I would have to kill you.” While serving overseas in Okinawa and Guam he would be transferred to Vietnam to assist in intelligence-gathering for encrypted information by “outside sources.”
He was a Vietnam veteran and would go on to be stationed at Fort Meade, Md., Sea Service; Mayport, Pensacola, & Key West, Fla.; the National Security Agency and Winter Harbor, Maine. He was honorably discharged from active duty on January 19, 1976, and received a Good Conduct & National Defense medals, the Navy Pistol ribbon, the Navy and Marine Service Ribbon & a Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation for NCS Guam.
Mr. Chaffee reenlisted with the Naval Reserves and spent the next 18 years in Springfield, Mass., Winter Harbor, Maine, Information Resource Officer for the United States Naval Academy, Rota, Spain; Pensacola & Key West, Fla.; Office of Naval Intelligence/Suitland, Md.; Fort Meade, Md.; & Charleston, S.C. During this time in 1986 he was very proud to have made chief. For his continued service with his Reserve unit, he received two Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medals, the National Defense Medal & a Naval Reserve Meritorious Unit Ribbon. After retirement he taught Accounting & Finance at the Naval Station in Goose Creek, S.C.
Mr. Chaffee was employed as the Finance Director of the Hampshire Council of Government in Northampton. His career as an accountant was varied from Brimfield, Adams, Southbridge, CARTA (SC), to his last job in Northampton.
For more than 20 years, he was also an auctioneer with the family business Robert E. Chaffee and Sons. His father helped Gordon Reid when Gordon founded the Brimfield Flea Market back in 1959. He also enjoyed studying genealogy and finding all kinds of family history. He was especially thrilled to find out that the Brown family were direct descendants of the Brewster’s that were on the Mayflower that landed in Plymouth in 1620.
He was a member of the American Legion Post 155, the Naval Reserve Association and the Ham Radio Operator’s Association. He had been a Ham Radio operator (KC1VQ) since his teens. He served on the Springfield Ambulance Service, the Monson Fire Department, Adams Forest Wardens and the Dalton Fire Department.
Mr. Chaffee leaves his wife of 23 years, the former Ellen R. Murray, whom he married April 21, 1995. He was very happy that they had that day to be home together.
He is survived by his brothers, Raymond Chaffee and Bruce Chaffee; as well as his sister-in-law, Ann Murray Kamienski; his nieces, Sarah, Erin, and Danielle; his former sister-in-law, Michelle; his four-legged daughter, Mary, and his four-legged nephew, Joe; and approximately 53 first cousins.
He was predeceased by his in-laws, Harold J. “Joe” Murray and his wife, Mary A. (Roberts) Murray, his brother-in-law, Matthew W. Kamienski and numerous Chaffee and Brown family members.
Mr. Chaffee’s family wishes to thank Dr. Marjorie DeVries, Dr. Kevin Quiusky and Dr. Trevor Bayliss. Also, all the nurses and care givers from BMC 3 South, 5 West, Center for Rehabilitation at BMC, the Hillcrest Cancer Center, Mount Greylock, Porchlight, BVNA & HospiceCare in the Berkshires.
Funeral notice: Funeral services for Mr. Roland E. Chaffee will be held Saturday, May 5, with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 9 a.m. at St. Charles Church celebrated by Rev. Peter A. Gregory, Pastor Emeritus. Burial with military honors will take place at a later date in Fairview Cemetery in Dalton, Massachusetts.
There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Ellen Murray-Chaffee to be distributed among Roland’s favorite charities.