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Chester County Press

Obituaries for the week of August 23

08/23/2021 04:36PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Shirley Fielding Pritchard
Shirley Fielding Pritchard passed away at the Hickman in West Chester on Aug. 9 after a rich and full life.  
She was born at Union Hospital in Lynn, Massachusetts, on Aug. 26, 1935, to William Ashton and Mildred Gladys March Fielding. Theirs was a home filled with laughter, love, and discipline. 
Her father's intelligence and inquisitiveness fostered a deep curiosity and inspired Shirley Ann, as she was called, to give the fullest to each of life's challenges. Her mother engendered a love of home and hearth, encouraged strong attention to detail, and an independent strength of character. 
Graduating from Spaulding High School in 1953, she left a legacy of academic achievement and a trail of extracurricular activities that included community service organizations, music, drama, and student council.  These early pursuits were foundational to her passions throughout her life, including her commitment to community, civic-mindedness, and support for the arts. In 1954 she enrolled as a freshman at the University of New Hampshire, where she graduated in 1957 with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and art history. In her senior year, she met James Scherer Pritchard, newly returned from the Korean Conflict and completing his undergraduate degree. They married in 1957, welcoming their daughter Jennifer Lynn in 1958.  In 1959, Jim accepted a position with the DuPont Company, and the family of three moved from Nottingham, New Hampshire, to Newark, Del. The mid-Atlantic would supplant New England as home, but the deep roots planted during the first third of her life resonated profoundly within her, affecting her design aesthetic, love of a hearty meal, and moral code.  In 1961, Jim and Shirley added Jeffrey Scott and completed their family of four.  Anyone who knew Shirley recognized her as someone who was interested and interesting, and her pursuits were varied.  Context is important in the arc of a life, and Shirley was ten years old at the end of World War II, twenty-eight years old when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, thirty-three years old when Martin Luther King was murdered. These events deeply affected her views on social justice and civic responsibility.  As her young children came of school age and the Vietnam War escalated, she felt an obligation to contribute to the education of young adults. She became a substitute teacher in the Christina School District in Newark, Del.  At the end of the 1960s, Jim and Shirley moved their family from Newark to a landmark historic country home in Kennett Square, the first home where Shirley honed her design aesthetic and principles, a talent that in 1983 would become Pritchard and Associates. It also began the deep ties to Kennett Square and West Chester.  In 1987 Jim and Shirley moved to Radley Run Mews, where she remained after his death in January 2015 until September 2020, when she moved to the Hickman on Walnut Street in West Chester.  The community of Southeastern Pennsylvania inspired the civic side of Shirley, and she became an accomplished fundraiser for Tick Tock Day Care, Brandywine River Museum, with their inaugural Antiques Show and subsequent events.  Her love of the arts translated into being a docent at both Winterthur and the Brandywine River Museum.  At Winterthur, she assisted the educational department in developing several courses of study for Continuing Education qualification for professional Designers.  She used her Interior Design expertise to advance the education and careers of burgeoning Interior Design Students by sitting on the Advisory Board of Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Shirley believed in the value and importance of our natural resources and the beauty of Southern Chester County.  She channeled that belief by serving as chairperson for Open Space, Kennett Square.  She was an early advocate for limited impact, sustainability, and green design.  
Her professional accomplishments included membership in the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and she served as president of the PA/NJ/DE chapter.  Notably, the International Board of Directors of IIDA elected her to serve as Director of Residential Design.  In 2000, she was honored by her peers and inducted into the College of Fellows. Probably closest to her heart was her dedication and commitment to the Kennett Symphony, serving as president emeritus and as a loyal and trusted friend of the organization for many years. Finally, in her "oldest years," a term she coined and began using after Jim died, Shirley found comfort and purpose with Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church. She served as a contributing member of Session and Chair of the Missions Committee.  Under her leadership, they vetted organizations, dispersed funds, and informed the congregation of the work and needs through the "Moment for Mission" during Sunday worship service. In her 84th year, she, together with the Missions Committee and Michael Wright, submitted a grant proposal that not only involved financial aid but congregants working with formerly incarcerated persons trying to reintegrate into society.  Her ethos of "giving back" extended the entirety of her life.  
One of her proudest achievements was beating breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2010, she underwent radical treatment.  As she did with any adversity, she embraced the humor and fellowship in the experience, finding kindred spirits in survivorship she referred to as breast friends.
Shirley loved to cook and garden.  An avid reader, she devoured books, and her children recollect finding her sitting reading upon returning home from school. Through the years, she participated in many book clubs and loved the women in her last one, centered in the Mews.    Among all her interests, three stood above the rest, being a great mother to Jennifer and Jeff, a doting grandmother to Joe and Alex, and a true-blue friend.  As a testament to her accomplishments, right until the end, her children were with her along with her friends.  Shirley had an unequivocal enthusiasm.  She was the life of any party, and her presence is sorely missed. 
She is survived by two children, Jennifer Lynn Pritchard (and her husband Charles E. Frye) of Laguna Beach, Calif. and Jeffrey Scott Pritchard (and his wife Debra Groch Pritchard) and their two children, Joseph Scott and Alexandra Lynn of Millstone Township, NJ. She is also survived by her brother, William Ashton (and his wife Barbara Fielding) and their children of Wilder, Vermont.  
She is honored by her children for the profound importance family, friendship, and fun played in her life. 
A celebration of life was held on Aug. 23 at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del. A reception at Kennett Square Golf & Country Club followed. 
In honor of Mrs. Pritchard's life, the family requests contributions in her name to Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church or the Kennett Symphony  
Arrangements are being handled by Matthew J. Grieco of Grieco Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc. (1800-FUNERAL).  
To view her online obituary, please visit

Jose Antonio Ortega
Jose Antonio “Tony” Ortega, a resident of Oxford, passed away on Aug. 11 in the Twin Pines Nursing Home in West Grove. He was 93.
He was the husband of Nancy Brown Ortega, with whom he shared 58 years of marriage.
Born in Naranjito, Puerto Rico, he was the son of the late Claudio and Guadalupe Torres Ortega.
Tony was employed with Paramount Nursery in Kelton for 51 years before retiring in 2002.
He was a member of Sacred Heart Church in Oxford.
He enjoyed gardening, especially roses. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife; three children, Judy Brown, Tammy Ortega and her husband, Harry Griswold, and Scott Ortega and his wife, Melissa, all of Oxford; six grandchildren, Steven Justice, Shanna Krauss, Andrew Revels, Jr., Justin Ortega, Austin Talley and Grant Talley; ten great-grandchildren; four great-great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Anna L. Ortega-Rivera of Oxford and Audia Ortega-Fernandez of Puerto Rico.
He was preceded in death by one brother, Francisco Ortega and two sisters, Louisa Ortega-Nieves and Claudena Ortega-Morales.
Funeral services were held Aug. 18, at the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. in Oxford.
Interment will be in Oxford Cemetery.
Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. Oxford. 
Online condolences may be made at

Neil Brown
Neil Brown passed away at Brandywine Hall on Aug. 11. He was 65.

Born 1956 in Norwalk, CT, Neil was the son of the late Clyde Page and the late Mary A. Palmer Page. 
Neil attended Joel Barlow High School in Redding, CT. 
Neil enjoyed travel, nature, fishing and cars. He had a deep love of animals, especially dogs and cats. 
Neil spent much of his life living in New England. He loved the experience of growing up in Redding, Connecticut and thought its beauty was best showcased in both the spring and the fall. 
Neil is survived by his son, Christopher Murach; his brother, Harold “Hal” Page, and Hal’s wife, Wendy Page; his sister-in-law, Roni Page; two nephews, James Page and Nicholas Page; as well as two nieces, Jessica Sicca and Lindsey Page.
In addition to his parents, Neil was preceded in death by his brothers, James Page and Robert Page. 
Services for Neil will be private. 
To view his online tribute and to share a message with his family, please visit
Arrangements are being handled by Foulk Funeral Home of West Grove.

Walter Joseph Montgomery
Walter Joseph "Joe" Montgomery passed away on Aug. 15. He was 90.
Joe, a lifelong resident of Chester County, was born in West Grove on May 26, 1931. He graduated from Avon Grove High School in 1949 and proudly served in the United States Navy.
After returning to civilian life, he worked for the DuPont Company until his retirement in 1985. 
In 1960, he married Janice Goodwin and they had one daughter.
An avid reader, Joe served on the board of the Avon Grove Library for several years and was involved with the building of the new library. He was a member of the West Grove Avondale Rotary Club for nearly 50 years and through the years served as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
Joe was an author, artist and inventor. A true "jack of all trades,” there was nothing he couldn’t build or repair.
Joe is survived by his wife, Janice, their daughter, Denise D'Aurora, and a grandson, Zachary D’Aurora.
Memorials may be made to Wounded Warrior Project, at

Sumie F. McCardell
Sumie F. McCardell, of Oxford, passed away on Aug. 14 at Twin Pines Health Care Center in West Grove. She was 87.
She was the wife of the late John McCardell.
Born in Oshima, Japan, she was the daughter of the late Toro and Tochity Matsuyama. 
Sumie was a member of the Oxford Senior Center.
She enjoyed being a homemaker, crocheting and planting flowers.
She is survived by one sister, Nobuko Niimoto of Japan; two brothers; and many nieces and nephews.
A Graveside Service will be held 10 a.m. on Aug. 25 at Union Cemetery, Route 472 and Street Road in Kirkwood, Pa.
Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. in Oxford. Online condolences may be made at

Samuel Ralph
Samuel Ralph transitioned peacefully from this earthly life to a new life on Aug. 18.
He was born March 27, 1947, in West Chester to the late Johnny L. Ralph and Myrtle Mack.
Sam was loved by many. He loved to work on cars and go fishing and hunting. He loved to have a good time while telling jokes and talking smack with family and friends. Most of all, Sam loved good music and could tear up a dance floor anywhere, anyplace and anytime.  
Samuel was a loving soul that always greeted you with a smile on his face. Sam worked as a security guard at Lincoln University for over 12 years and retired from Modern Mushroom after 15 years. He always loved a good, home cooked meal, and he was very old-fashioned by being served and sitting at the table. Samuel had his own personal relationship with Christ. He attended Independent Church of Jesus Christ, formally known as A.M.E. Zion, where his grandmother, the late Reverend Mary L. Dorsey, was pastor. 
Samuel is survived by his loving wife of 33 years, Cynthia Ralph of Oxford; two daughters, Delores Ralph “Dee Dee” of Lincoln University, Pa. and Essence Ralph of Oxford; and three sons, Samuel Ralph Jr. (Emily) of New Castle, Del., Walter Ralph of Enterprise, AL and Johnathan Ralph of Oxford; fourteen loving grandchildren, Cassandra, Brittany, Shawn, Elijah, Asante, Savion, Enrique Jr., Devon, Justin Jr., Aidan, Amiyah, Faith, Jaleah, and Evyanna; three sisters,  Abbey Merritt of Chester, Pa.,  Ella Johnson of Philadelphia, and Shirley Simpson (James) of Coatesville; and one brother, Richard Mack of Altoona, Pa. 
He was proceeded in death by his mother, Mytrle Mack; father, Johnny Ralph;  two brothers,  David Mack and Sketter Ralph; and a grandson, Jalen Ralph.
Sam will be missed by additional nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.  
Home Going Services were celebrated on Aug. 23 at the Edward Collins, Jr.  Funeral Home, Inc., in Oxford.
Interment will be at Oxford Cemetery. 
In lieu of flowers, donation in his memory made to Edward Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc.
Arrangements are being handled by the Edward L. Collins, Jr. Funeral Home, Inc. in Oxford. Online condolences may be made at