David Kielson

David Kielson, a past president of the MMA and longtime Chesterfield official known for his kindness and commitment to public service, died from COVID-19 on Dec. 31 at age 85.

Kielson had served for 24 years on the Chesterfield Select Board before stepping down in 2014. He dedicated many years to the MMA’s work, having served as MMA president in 2007, as president of the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association (now the Massachusetts Select Board Association), as chair of the MMA Fiscal Policy Committee for many years, and as a member of both the MMA and MIIA boards.

After describing Kielson’s contributions, MMA Executive Director and CEO Geoff Beckwith led a moment of silence and appreciation during the MMA’s virtual Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 22.

“He was a strong and gentle and wise and humble person,” Beckwith said. “He was kind and joyful, and he treated every person with dignity and respect. He loved nature and he loved life, and he luxuriated in both. For all of this, David Kielson was deeply loved by many, including all of us at the MMA.”

Kielson moved to Chesterfield in 1983, and soon became deeply involved in the community, including working for 25 years as the town’s accountant. In news coverage about Kielson’s passing, local officials credited his financial acumen for having kept the town on solid footing. Over the years, he had also served on numerous town boards and committees, including the Finance Committee; Planning Board; and the school building, senior housing, and green community committees.

In addition to Chesterfield, Kielson also worked as an accountant for the towns of Williamsburg, Shutesbury, Athol and Southampton. He also provided free accounting services for the Hilltown Community Development Corp. and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, among other organizations.

In tributes posted on his online obituary page, people referred to him as “a treasure” and “an inspiration and a light.” One tribute called Kielson “a force of warmth and compassion teamed with a passionate commitment to social justice.”

Kielson leaves his wife of 62 years, Gail, and three daughters.