GREENFIELD — After four decades serving the hearing impaired and two leading Pioneer Hearing Services, veteran audiologists Barbara and Norman Morris handed over their office space at Valley Medical Group to new hands on July 1.
Barbara, 65, and Norman, 74, said their decision to retire was difficult, but timely. The business, founded by the couple in 2002, has since been a business that kept their hearts full, they said, as it served community members of all ages with hearing loss.
“Saying goodbye to some of our patients has been very difficult,” Barbara said.
Barbara said that while Norman was already “pretty much retired” and had been working in a limited capacity for three years, she was prompted to leave this chapter of her life when she left the YMCA recently. She recalled that an acquaintance and one of the Brattleboro Hearing Center audiologists, Alexandra Tully, met her as she was leaving and casually suggested that if the Morrises were ever looking to retire, let her know . Associated with a desire to spend more time with their children and grandchildren, the Morrises then accepted Tully’s offer and brokered a deal.
“It was very important for us too to have someone with the same philosophy who would take care of our patients as we wish. … We just felt like they were the right people,” Barbara said.
The Brattleboro Hearing Center, founded by Tully, Sarah Moore and Kim Messer, began in October 2014 following the bankruptcy and closure of the Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, according to the company’s website. Valley Medical Group’s location in Greenfield is now the company’s third location, having already established offices in Brattleboro, Vermont and Swanzey, New Hampshire. Barbara said incoming audiologists would do justice to the morality her company had maintained for 20 years.
“Talking to them and meeting them as much as we did,” she said, “it was very important to both of us that they had the same ethics and the same care for their patients, that they go the extra mile, because when you I can’t hear, it’s so isolating.
The couple said caring for people with hearing difficulties was extremely important to them because of the social barrier caused by such conditions.
“It’s isolation for them,” Norman said of those living with hearing loss. “Eventually they don’t go to family gatherings because they can’t hear. They don’t go to restaurants because they can’t hear.
Barbara agreed, noting that she has seen many who suffer from hearing problems see their cognitive decline accelerate with age or become depressed.
“It’s very similar to how COVID has affected families with children and adults,” Norman added.
Considering the difficulties of living with hearing loss, Barbara recounted a conversation she once had with a child about the meanest things people had said to her as a hard of hearing person. The meanest thing someone has ever said, the child revealed, was “it’s okay” – an indication that they weren’t worth the conversation effort.
“It’s something a family member will do to someone who is hard of hearing,” Norman said. “It’s discouraging.”
As June 30 marked the couple’s last day of work with Pioneer Valley Hearing and Norman’s full retirement, Barbara said retirement for her “will be in stages.” She plans to continue to manage Baystate Health’s infant screening program, as well as serve as an instructional audiologist at local schools.
In their personal lives, the couple look forward to traveling to England and Ireland, playing golf, gardening and cycling. All the while, they said, they will miss the people they have bonded with over time.
“We will miss the customers we met,” said Norman. “I want to thank them for supporting us for so many years.”
“We have some really wonderful patients,” Barbara added.
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]