Emily S. Conlon, 79, passed away on May 23, 2023.
Born in Boston, the daughter of the late Bernard D. Ward and Jean (Louney) Ward, Emily grew up in Fitchburg and graduated from St. Bernard’s High School. Following high school, she studied fashion and design at the School of Fashion Design, then located on Newbury Street in Boston, where she won numerous awards. Upon graduation, she opened her own shop, creating custom suits and dresses for clients.
She married James “Jim” F. Conlon a few years later. They moved to New Jersey, where Jim worked as a chemist. They eventually returned to Massachusetts, settling in Greenfield, where she worked for a decade as a master tailor at Braff’s Cleaners. Her interest in fashion and its connection to history and economics led her to return to academic study in the early 1990s. She graduated from Greenfield Community College and then earned a Frances Perkins Scholarship at Mount Holyoke College, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
She taught middle school part-time and shared her love of sewing by teaching many classes on tailoring techniques, quilting, and textile crafts. She was an immensely talented creator. The number of christening, prom, bridesmaid, and wedding dresses she made or altered for family and friends through the years is impossible to count. Helping her son create the latest tech gear for outdoor camping was one of her unique design accomplishments. Emily could sew anything using the Singer sewing machine given to her by her mentor when she was in 3rd grade, including creating jackets from thick, first-generation fleece fabric and 100 individual five-inch square baffles for a homemade down sleeping bag to keep her son warm during his many camping trips.
Emily was an avid gardener. Over many years she and Jim annually cultivated half an acre of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. During her retirement years, she turned to quilting, combining her love of history, design, and color. Around this time, she also fell in love with dog training, applying her Irish determination to her family’s trio of huskies. Always rooting for the underdog, she occasionally added a foster dog to the pack as well.
She leaves son, Christopher Conlon and his wife Kimberly of Anchorage, Alaska; daughter, Sarah Curtis and her husband, Kevin, of Leominster; two brothers, Michael Ward and his wife Joan of Leominster, and Bernard “Jake” Ward of Carmel, Maine; grandchildren Ashley and Nathan Conlon, Felicia and Cordelia Curtis and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was predeceased by her husband, Jim, and brother, Peter Ward.
Calling hours will be held Thursday, June 15, 2023, from 5 - 7 p.m. in the Brandon Funeral Home, 305 Wanoosnoc Road, Fitchburg. A Mass will be held Friday, June 16, 2023, at 11 a.m. at St. Bernard’s Church at St. Camillus, 180 Mechanic St., Fitchburg. Burial will follow at the Massachusetts Memorial Veterans Cemetery, 111 Glenallen St., Winchendon.
Please direct memorial gifts to the Greenfield Community College Foundation at One College Dr., Greenfield, Massachusetts 01301, or The Frances Perkins Scholarship at Mount Holyoke College, Office of Development, P.O. Box 889, South Hadley, MA 01075-0889.
To send online condolences, please visit www.brandonfuneral.com. Brandon Funeral Home, 305 Wanoosnoc Road, Fitchburg, is directing arrangements.