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Father John T. Dean

September 15, 1934 ~ February 24, 2018 (age 83)
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A native of Holyoke, Massachusetts and more recently a resident of Glen Allen, Virginia, Father John T. Dean went to join the Heavenly Father February 24, 2018 at age 83, surrounded by family and friends who loved and adored him dearly.  Holyoke was his beloved home for most of his life.  In his last years of retirement, he resided with his niece, Carolyn Dean, her husband, Lonny Green and their 6 children- Galen, Stenzler, Thomas, Knaide, Quinn and Mannix. Father Dean was born in Holyoke Massachusetts September 15, 1934, the youngest son of the late Mary Cecile (Fitzsimmons) Dean and William Joseph Dean, Sr.  He grew up surrounded by loving and doting parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and his two older brothers- Philip John Dean and William Joseph Dean.  He was educated in Holyoke and graduated from Holyoke High School in 1952. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Boston College and remained there to earn a Master of Education. Always a staunch advocate of education, he continued his studies in a variety of locations.  He completed the General Electric Fellowship in Economics at Union College in New York and the Sumner Fellowship at Syracuse University.  He traveled across the country and spent a year in Berkeley, California completing the John Hay Fellowship. Father Dean taught history at South Hadley High before moving on to teach at Holyoke High School, where he served as Chairman of the History Department. While he loved his students and he loved teaching, Father Dean heard a different calling, and in 1972 he graduated with a Master of Divinity from the Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.  The next year he completed further education and received a Certificate in Alcoholic Studies from Rutgers University. After being ordained in the Sacred Heart Church in Holyoke by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, Father John began his Ministry serving the population of Boston out of the Pine Street Inn.  He then served at St. Theresa’s Parish in South Hadley and as Chaplain at Mount Holyoke College.  Never one to sit still, at various times he was Chaplain at Mercy Hospital, Chaplain at Western New England College, Assistant at Holy Cross Parish in Springfield, chaplain and faculty member at Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, and often performed Mass at Saint Jerome’s Parish in Holyoke, and Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville. He also served on the Diocesan Vocation Advisory Committee. In all of his Priestly experiences, none touched as great a number of lives, or touched some lives so greatly, as the time Father John spent as Chaplain at Westfield State College, where he served from 1979 through 2005.  He was a devoted servant to his students at Westfield State University.   He was ever present on Campus, from the dining hall to the dorms to the classrooms.  His bellowing signature call- “Yo”-beckoned one and all to come, share a riddle, talk and share community.  He was well known for bringing pizzas and other food to the dorms, checking on students during the week and week-ends, purchasing dress coats or shoes if a student needed something for a special dance or interview, and buying school supplies for those who could not afford them.  Above all of that was giving students his most precious gift- his time.  Through humor, compassion and empathy, he engaged the student body in a way that defies mere words.  Upon retiring the Dining Commons was named in his honor.  The perpetual avalanche of letters, cards, and internet posts that occurred after his retirement and anytime he was ill is a testament to the deep love he engendered among so many. Father Dean was able to attend his 65th high school reunion in 2017 and spend time with his lifelong friends, who have always been supportive and loving to him. Father John Dean is survived by his brother and sister-in-law William J. Dean Jr. MD and Jean (Chapdelaine) Dean, sisters-in-law Janet O’Connor and Dolores Dowd-Dean in addition to his many nieces and nephews: Patricia Dean Hall and husband, Rocky; Paul Dean and wife, Susan Kelly, MD; Sheila (Broderick) Dean; Julie Dean Olsson and husband, Bengt; Mary-Jude Dean and husband, Sheldon Rosenberg; Philip J. Dean Jr., MD and wife, Mary Dean, RN; Thomas Dean CPA and wife, Theresa Dean; Anne V. Dean, MD;  Margaret Gross, RN and husband, Jerome Gross; Elizabeth Dean, RN; Catherine Dodge and husband, Michael Dodge; Carolyn Dean, RN, CRNA and husband, Lonny Green, MD, and many great nieces and nephews.  He is preceded in death by his brother Philip J. Dean, MD, nephews William J. Dean III, MD and John P. Dean. His family wants to thank the Glen Allen and Henrico community for being so welcoming and generous in spirit to Father Dean who went out of their way to welcome and love Father Dean. The wake for Father Dean will be held Friday March 9 from 4 PM-7PM concluding with a vigil service at Saint Patrick’s Chapel, adjacent to Saint Jerome’s Church, 169 Hampden Street, Holyoke Massachusetts. The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, March 10 at 10 AM at Saint Jerome’s Church, Holyoke. Burial will follow in St. Jerome Cemetery. The family of Father John Dean thanks his many friends and family for their expression of sympathy. In lieu of flowers and in his memory, we ask and appreciate the support of either the Father John Dean Scholarship at Westfield State or the Albert & Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center at Westfield State.  Please make checks payable to the Westfield State Foundation with either Fr. Dean Scholarship or Fr. Dean Interfaith Center Fund in the notation line and mail to Westfield State Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 1630, Westfield, MA 01086-1630.  If you prefer giving online, you may go to: and click on Father John Dean Scholarship or Father John Dean Interfaith Center fund.


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