ORANGE- Gregory Mattingly, age 76, died on Friday morning, March 3, as a result of injuries sustained in a fall last year.
He was born on May 24, 1946 in Stamford, Connecticut to Lawrence Mattingly and Gloria (Buzzeo) Mattingly. He grew up in southern Connecticut, graduating from Staples High School in 1963. High school friends remember him as a font of knowledge about blues, jazz and swing music. He then went to California to start college but found the lure of the counterculture stronger than traditional academics, though he was a lifelong student, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He studied and taught karate. He studied and practiced Zen meditation. He learned to play the flute, largely on his own, making his living busking on the streets of Martha’s Vineyard one summer.
Most important, he made lifelong friends wherever he went, drawing in people who shared any of his passions. Among them was artist Terry Towle, who bore their daughter Christine Towle in 1969, when they were living in the North End of Boston. Though they parted, they remained friends, co-parenting until Terry’s death in 1988.
Greg finally “got tired of being poor,” as he put it. He completed a CETA training program and was hired as a computer repairperson by Digital Equipment Company. DEC’s Field Service department was a wild group back then and Greg enjoyed working there. After a few years he was tapped to move into technical support and eventually training. He discovered that he liked teaching, in fact he liked being in front of an audience. (Christine’s friends saw this much earlier, in the elaborate puppet shows he did for them.) He studied acting and was part of several productions at the Vokes Theater.
Greg’s love for blues and swing music never faltered and he became an accomplished swing dancer. He met his life partner, Cynthia Brown, at a swing dance in Brookline in 1985 and that very night persuaded her to venture to Ed Burke’s bar in Mission Hill to listen and dance to the Fat City Blues Band. That was the beginning of many fine nights of listening and dancing to the music of Fat City, Roomful of Blues, the Memphis Rockabilly Band and other bands. In turn, Cynthia introduced Greg to the world of opera. They heard fine Baroque works in Boston, went to the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York for years and heard Wagner’s full Ring cycle three times, the first time in Seattle, then at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and just a few years ago at Washington National Opera.
After the collapse of Digital, a sad event for so many in Massachusetts, Greg worked in training for other computer companies and then worked in real estate for a few years. In the meantime, he discovered his last and greatest passion – the poetry of Emily Dickinson. He memorized hundreds of her poems, and drove from our home in Watertown to Amherst to join poetry discussion groups. When we retired and moved to our farm in Orange, Greg was able to attend more events at the Emily Dickinson Museum, and he was asked to train as a guide, starting in 2010. His experiences as a guide led him to research and write “Emily Dickinson as a Second Language,” published in 2018, still offered in the Museum bookshop and used as a reference source by many in the discussion groups.
Greg is survived by his partner Cynthia, his daughter Christine and her fiancé James Greer of Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, his granddaughter Siobhan Francis and great-granddaughter Ellianna Robinson, also of Oak Bluffs, his brothers Wayne Mattingly, Todd Gerstner and Michael Zuniga, and several nieces and nephews, including his youngest niece, Sophia Zuniga, of whom he was particularly fond. He is also remembered with affection by Cynthia’s nephew, Chris Brown of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, and niece, Sara Brown of New York City, for his endlessly inventive amusements for them when they would visit as young children.
We are grateful for the care and attention Greg received from so many nurses, CNAs and therapists while COVID left many facilities short-staffed. We give special thanks to the managers and staff at Life Care Center of Leominster, the nurses of Care Central VNA and Hospice of Gardner, and aides Amanda Brentley, Patricia OLari and Kody Zarozinski for their compassionate assistance.
There will be a Celebration of Life in the spring, as well as a commemorative event at the Emily Dickinson Museum.
Contributions in Greg’s memory can be directed to the Emily Dickinson Museum.
Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main Street, Orange, is assisting the family.
Guest book online at WWW.WITTYFUNERALHOME.COM
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