Tony Dobrowolski | Out of the Pages: Retirement, old places, new starts


PITTSFIELD >> It's summertime, and although the living may be easier, it's hard sometimes to keep up with all the news that filters through the business desk.

Here are some notes and anecdotes on people and businesses in the Berkshires that recently came to the business department's attention.

Change of pace

George T. Smith, who co-founded Smith, Watson & Co. LLP, a full service accounting firm, in Great Barrington 43 years ago, retired on June 30.

Smith, who was named the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce's 2015 Business Person of the Year, had over 50 years of experience in the accounting profession. A 1960 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, Smith started a private accounting practice in Berkshire County in 1962 before meeting Jack Watson in 1973, the year that Smith, Watson & Co. was formed.

Smith specialized in business acquisitions and dissolutions, and estate planning. He was a Certified Public Accountant in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and most recently served Smith, Watson as CPA of Counsel.

He was also very active as a volunteer in the community. Smith served as chairman of the board of Fairview Hospital from 1980-84, and in a similar position for Berkshire Health Systems, the county's largest employer, in 1992 and 1993. Smith has been a member and past president of the Southern Berkshire Volunteer Ambulance Squad for more than 45 years, a past member of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, and a past trustee of the Mass. College of Liberal Arts Endowment Foundation.

In his spare time, Smith races his vintage race car, a 1948 MG TC, and guards the slopes as a long time member of the Catamount Ski Area's Ski Patrol. In retirement, Smith plans to take more time to enjoy his many hobbies as well as continue his volunteer and civic projects.

Relocation for hearing aid firm

Hearing Aid Associates recently moved back to downtown Pittsfield after spending almost five years at the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough.

Darren Ricci, who runs the business with his father, Patrick Ricci, said his father sold the business in 2011 to Beltone, an international hearing aid company that was one of Hearing Aid Associates' suppliers.

Beltone has a relationship with Sears, according to Darren Ricci, so after the sale took place, Beltone moved Hearing Aid Associates to the Sears store in the Berkshire Mall.

But when Beltone began to consolidate its offices around the country, the company severed its ties with Hearing Aid Associates, Darren said. The Riccis took over the business again and decided to move it back to Pittsfield. The firm is currently located at 169 First St. Hearing Aid Associates, which the elder Ricci originally founded in the 1970s, had been located on First Street for 30 years before Beltone moved it to the mall.

Hearing Aid Associates' regular customers are glad the firm is back where it used to be.

"They were very happy actually when we moved back because the mall is not doing well," Darren said. "They felt there was no reason for us to be in the mall. For a lot of people who live in Pittsfield and the surrounding areas this is a better location."

New home for Cafe Reva chef

The owner/chef of the former Cafe Reva, a popular breakfast and lunch spot on Tyler Street that closed in 2013 when the building's owner declined to bring the eatery's fire suppression system up to code, has resurfaced at another spot — Wahconah Country Club in Dalton.

Aura Whitman was recently named the new chef at Wahconah's clubhouse restaurant, which is open to the public. The club also has a new manager, Matt Morrison.

A graduate of both the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, N.Y. and Cordon Bleu in Paris, Whitman formed "Naturally", a grab-and-go catering business located at Berkshire Organics on Dalton Division Road after Cafe Reva closed. She still maintains that operation, which also provides services for parties, banquets, weddings and business events at Wahconah Country Club. She is known for creating natural, locally-sourced menus.

Whitman has had quite a career. She met the late Julia Child while attending Cordon Bleu in Paris, and catered the famous chef's 83rd birthday in 1995. She appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" the next day.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at


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