Remembering David Kielson and his lifetime of service

By BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer

Published: 01-08-2021 6:58 PM

CHESTERFIELD – David Kielson, whose work as an accountant and volunteer had a large impact on western Massachusetts, died Dec. 31 of COVID-19. He was 85 years old.

“He always felt like he wanted to contribute to the local community,” said Leslie Kielson, his youngest daughter.

Kielson moved to Chesterfield in 1983, following a career as an accountant in New Rochelle, N.Y. He did so with his wife, Gail, after their three daughters had left home.

Leslie Kielson said her parents, who were married for 62 years, chose to move to Chesterfield because they wanted to live in a more rural place, and because their interest in social justice drew them to the Northampton area. The pair lived in town until 2015, when they moved to Florence.

“They absolutely adored living in Chesterfield,” Leslie Kielson said.

Her father gave unconditional love and support to her and her sisters, Laurie and Linda, who also kept the Kielson name, she said, and he imparted a love of nature and joy in living life.

“He was really an incredible father,” Leslie Kielson said.

She also recalled her father’s love of singing and sense of humor.

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“He loved to make people laugh,” she said.

She also said her father’s Jewish values had a strong influence on his life and his commitment to social change, and that he inspired others to be activists as well.

Gail Kielson said her husband loved life, people and the outdoors.

“He was so accepting of people,” she said.

And she noted her husband’s commitment to social justice.

“He wanted to give, and make the world a better place,” she said.

Gail Kielson also said her husband provided free accounting services for the Hilltown Community Development Corp. and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, among other organizations.

Those who knew Kielson described him as the consummate professional and a wonderful person.

“He would give you the world,” said Chesterfield Town Administrator Susan Labrie, who added that Kielson always had a smile on his face.

Kielson was on the Select Board in Chesterfield when she interviewed for the job, Labrie said. He also served as the town’s accountant, and Labrie expressed her opinion that Kielson had been the most brilliant town accountant in the entire state.

“We were so lucky to have an accountant of his caliber working for this town,” she said.

Janice Gibeau, director of the Chesterfield Council on Aging, also praised Kielson’s financial acumen.

“Many of us have acknowledged more than once that Dave Kielson was the linchpin for our town keeping financially sound as a rock,” Gibeau said. “He was a wonderful, wonderful accountant and man.”

In addition to Chesterfield, Kielson also worked as an accountant for the towns of Williamsburg, Shutesbury, Athol and Southampton.

“He worked so hard,” said Becky Torres, Shutesbury’s town administrator. “I just remember him running up the steps.”

Kielson also served on Chesterfield’s Select Board for 24 years, and “it was really important for him to be called a select person and not a selectman,” Leslie Kielson said.

Roger Fuller, chairman of Chesterfield’s Select Board, is in his 24th year of serving on the board after Kielson encouraged him to run. Fuller said Kielson, who he called “a great mentor,” gave his heart and soul to the community and brought Chesterfield to a new level of financial strength.

“I would only hope to do as much as he did for Chesterfield,” Fuller said.

Stephen Kulik, the longtime state representative for the Hilltowns, recalled serving on the board of the Hilltown CDC with Kielson. He also noted Kielson’s work as a member of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association (now the Massachusetts Select Board Association), two organizations Kielson served as president.

Kulik said Kielson brought a rural, small-town perspective to the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

“He was very dedicated, as he was to the town of Chesterfield,” he said.

Leslie Kielson noted how caring for other people was a key part of her father’s identity.

“He was such an incredibly loving, empathetic person,” she said.

Kielson spent the last three years of his life at the Memory Care Unit at the Elaine Center at Hadley, where he died. His vascular dementia was triggered by a cross-country ski accident and a hematoma in the brain that it caused.

Linda Kielson, Kielson’s middle daughter, said her father was treated very well at the Elaine Center.

“They allowed my father to be who he was,” she said. “They engaged with him. And they really loved him.”

Donations in Kielson’s honor should be made to Food Bank of Western Massachusetts or Hilltown CDC.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.]]>