Big Y Co-founder Dies

Gerald E. “Gerry” D’Amour, co-founder and former president of Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y Foods Inc. died Sunday, Aug. 15, 2010 at his home in Somers, Conn. He was 90 years old.

Born in Holyoke, Mass., in 1920, D’Amour started Big Y in 1936 with his brother, Paul H. D’Amour, who died in 1991, when they bought the “Y” Cash Market located at the “Y” intersection of Meadow and Chicopee streets in the Willimansett section of Chicopee, Mass. After joining the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II and serving for four years in the South Pacific and Japan, he was honorably discharged with the rank of captain.

Throughout his career, D’Amour was active in many civic, social and community organizations, and received numerous awards for his outstanding citizenship and business acumen. His industry affiliations included the Massachusetts Food Association and Food Marketing Institute.

Among the endowments made by D’Amour and other family members are the D’Amour Library at Western New England College; the Marie Couillard D’Amour Scholarship, named for D’Amour’s mother, to assist continuing-education students at Elms College; the D’Amour Hall for Business Communication and Technology at Bay Path College; and the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care at Baystate Health.

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Jeanne E. Fontaine D’Amour; two sons, Joseph and Charles; four daughters, Denise, Claire D’Amour-Daley, Helen D. Hayes and Marie D. Baker; their respective spouses; and 10 grandchildren.

A private funeral service took place at the D’Amour Chapel in Somers, with a public memorial service to be scheduled at a later date.

Instead of flowers, donations may be made in D’Amour’s memory to the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care c/o Baystate Health Foundation, Inc. 280 Chestnut St. Springfield, MA 01199; the Murphy-Avis Respite Fund, 120 Chestnut St. East Longmeadow, MA 01028; or Wernick Adult Day Care c/o Jewish Nursing Home, 77 Converse St., Longmeadow, MA 01106.

Those wishing to send their condolences to the D’Amour family can visit or call (413) 782-5226.

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