Maria Ann Palo (Rytuba)
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Maria Palo was born in Hadley on November 26, 1952 to parents Edward and Pauline Rytuba. Maria was educated in the Hadley school system and attended high school at Hopkins Academy in Hadley. While in high school Maria became an accomplished bassoonist and was invited to be principle bassoonist in the Smith-Amherst College orchestra. Maria attended Boston University where she studied bassoon under Sherman Walt, principle bassoonist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After graduation Maria joined the Springfield Orchestra and then played in several orchestras throughout the country. As a female bassoonist she broke new ground when she was the first woman to play bassoon in orchestras that had previously been exclusively male. Later in life Maria and her husband Jim Palo were blest to have their first son Edward and then three years later their second son William. Maria then put the bassoon aside to become a wonderful Mom.
After the passing of her parents Maria took over running the Rytuba Pumpkin Farm in Hadley. Over the years many children came to the farm and got to know Maria and joined in the excitement that Maria engendered in picking a pumpkin and putting it in a wagon to cart off to their car. Years later these children came back with their children to continue the tradition of picking a pumpkin in the beautiful setting that Maria created annually in the autumn. The tradition continues to this day after Maria and her two sons decorated and opened the pumpkin farm once again this past weekend.
Three years ago Maria was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare sarcoma that continues to be a medical challenge with no known cure. As with everything Maria she took the challenge with her ever present joy of life and the belief that she would overcome this. Her Doctors and care givers at Dana Farber Cancer Institute loved her and her positive and happy attitude. Maria was a "breath of fresh air" to both staff and patients on the sixth floor oncology center. The regimen of chemotherapy was just too much for her beautiful heart. We have lost a wonderfully brave woman, a magnificent Mom, and a joyful spirit that we can all aspire to.
Maria leaves her two sons Edward and William and her husband Jim of Belmont, MA, and a brother James of Menlo Park California and his partner John Gannon. The wake will be at Keefe Funeral Home in Arlington, MA from 4-9 PM on Friday October 4. A funeral Mass will be at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church at 9 AM on Saturday October 5 in Belmont MA. Internment service will be at the Holy Rosary Cemetery 1:30 PM in Hadley, MA.
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