“A very special person”: businessman, philanthropist “Moe” England dies at 90 | Local News


PITTSFIELD – Monroe “Moe” B. England Jr., a philanthropist and businessman who helped found the craft beer movement, died Tuesday at the age of 90, according to his daughter.

The England native of Pittsfield had resided at Kimball Farms in Lenox since 2012. He had a “confluence of health issues” according to her daughter, but she believes her father died of natural causes. She said a friend took her father for beer and a salmon steak at the Olde Heritage Tavern in Lenox six days before his death.

England, whose grandfather and brothers founded Pittsfield’s iconic England Brothers department store, was a friend to many, her daughter said.

“I was thinking of all the different [things] that people told me about my dad, and I think most people would say Moe always listened, ”said Elizabeth England, who lives in New York City and Cornwall, Connecticut. people have always said, “Your father stopped and had time for me.

“It was very emotional. He always looked at things from the other person’s point of view. My dad never had a diary. He was very kind and generous… do you need a place to stay , need a ride, need money? “

Monroe England with her daughter

Monroe “Moe” England takes a walk on the dance floor with her daughter, Elizabeth, in an undated photo.

England, a Marine Corps veteran and high school athlete in three sports who was responsible for hockey at a local high school for many years, spent nearly 40 years in the alcoholic beverage business. His father, prominent Pittsfield civic leader Monroe B. England, purchased a substantial stake in Kelly-Dietrich, a Pittsfield-based wholesale distributor of alcoholic beverages, in 1949. When his father died suddenly in 1958, the England assumed his father’s role in the business. .

In 1978, England and his second wife, Elise, started an eastern branch of Seattle-based importing company Merchant Du Vin, and came up with the idea of ​​importing high-end specialty beers created in Europe. The roommate’s family from England at Colgate University owned the Utica Club brewery in New York.

“We started importing beer by brewing styles, such as lager, brown hazel, IPA,” England told Colgate alumni magazine. “We were the importer and we traveled and built what is now called the craft beer movement.”

England was born in Pittsfield on November 20, 1930. England’s grandfather, Moses England, and his three brothers, Albert, Daniel and Simon, were from Bavaria and arrived in the Berkshires in the 19th century. Moses, Daniel and Simon, who were originally street vendors, founded the England Brothers department store in Pittsfield in 1857. The store, located on North Street, closed in 1988. Moses England died of a heart attack at the Kentucky Derby in 1935.

The father from England worked at England Brothers after training for seven years at Macy’s in New York. He also owned Pittsfield’s WBRK radio station for six years in the 1940s and was involved in a hospital bed maker and air freight business.

Like his father, Moe England was active in the community. He has served on the boards of the Berkshire Theater Festival, Hancock Shaker Village, Berkshire Music School and Shakespeare & Company.

Along with her daughter, England offered annual gifts to the Jewish Federation of Berkshires, supported scholarships to the Berkshire Music School and established a fund for religious education at its synagogue, Anshe Amunim Temple in Pittsfield. England had also opened three designated funds at the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in Sheffield since 2014.

“Moe was a very special person to the community, to so many nonprofits and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation,” said foundation executive director Peter Taylor. “His philanthropy was deeply rooted in his Jewish faith. We interviewed him once and he said that he was really, really committed to healing the world. That was his motivation.… We’re glad he told us. chose to be part of his heritage. “

England were a member of the 1948 hockey team at Sheffield’s Berkshire School which qualified for the playoffs that year in the Housatonic Valley Prep School Hockey League. England, a defender, helped Berkshire prepare for the playoffs that year by scoring the winning goal in overtime in a win over West Point Plebes at West Point.

He then umpired high school hockey games at the Boys and Girls Club in Pittsfield.

“I remember people yelling at my dad,” Elizabeth England said. “I remember getting up at the Boys Club and asking them to stop yelling at him.”

England is survived by her daughter Elizabeth, her son-in-law Tony Scott, her step-daughters Sue Stephens and Wendy Bachrach and her step-grandchildren Lauren Fortin, David Shaw and Daniel Shaw. He is also survived by his brother, Robert England, his nieces Alexandra and Kara England, and a nephew, Thomas Monroe England.

An outdoor memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on August 31 in a tent at Pittsfield Cemetery.

“Everyone is welcome,” said Elizabeth.

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