Henry Palmer Bakewell Jr.

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Old Saybrook - Henry Palmer Bakewell Jr., 75, of Old Saybrook, noted nautical engineer, expert sailor, train enthusiast and devoted father, died Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, at Yale-New Haven Hospital, after a sudden and brief illness.

Mr. Bakewell was born May 25, 1937, in West Hartford, the son of Henry Palmer Bakewell and Hester (Adams) Bakewell. He graduated from Groton School in 1955, from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1959 and an master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1961, and from the Pennsylvania State University with a PhD in aeronautical engineering in 1966.

He joined the U.S. Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory in 1961, where he conducted studies of turbulent flow noise. Subsequently his career included responsibility for several submarine programs to characterize and reduce hull array self-noise, initiation of thinline towed array efforts and development of wavenumber analysis techniques for sonar self-noise. He was a nationally and internationally recognized expert in towed and hulled array hydroacoustics, and for his achievements was recognized with the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award. Mr. Bakewell retired in 1996 as the head of the Towed Arrays Division of Naval Underseas Weapons Center in New London.

Known by his friends for his gentle kindness and soft-spoken wit, Mr. Bakewell was accomplished in numerous pursuits and hobbies. An expert sailor, he loved being on the water, owning and sailing a variety of boats, including the sloop Sixpence and most recently his Cape Dory Born Free. In 1977, he and his crew placed first in their division in the Marion Bermuda Race. He was a longtime member and former president of the Dauntless Club in Essex, as well as founder and ardent supporter of the North Cove Yacht Club in Old Saybrook.

Mr. Bakewell had a lifelong passion for trains and railroad history. In addition to delighting his children and grandchildren with intricate model train layouts at home, he served as both train conductor and train master for the Valley Railroad Company, home of the Essex Steam Train, in Essex. As train master, he developed the training program that taught the essentials to future brakeman and flagman while also imparting his wisdom and energy as a mentor.

Mr. Bakewell was devoted to Groton School, and was an active alumnus, including recently participating on a panel of distinguished Groton alumni for a discussion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives with alumni and current students.

The last year of his life was filled with great joy. In May 2012, he celebrated his 75th birthday with a planked shad dinner surrounded by family at the Dauntless Club. Accompanied by his loving companion of 13 years, Carolyn Barter, he sailed and traveled extensively throughout the year, including sails to New London for the Tall Ships Festival and to Mystic Seaport as part of the Labor Day North Cove Yacht Club cruise, along with a travel excursion to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to his extensive Valley Railroad commitments, he also found time to volunteer at Mystic Seaport, repairing and maintaining their small craft fleet. Most recently, on Dec. 1, he hosted family and friends in the Essex Steam Train's parlor car for an evening ride on the "North Pole Express". His family described a festive atmosphere, replete with stories and carols, as he showed off his family to admiring Valley Railroad colleagues. For a quiet, thoughtful man, reserved in his emotions, he was clearly swelled with pride and having a wonderful time amidst the warmth of family and friends.

Mr. Bakewell was predeceased by his wife, Elsie-Ives (Goodrich) Bakewell; as well as a sister, Hester (Sandy) Bakewell.

He is survived by a brother, Charles Bakewell of Earlysville, Va.; a sister, Sarah Haines of Waterbury; his companion, Carolyn Barter of Old Saybrook; four daughters, Nancy Roberts of Gales Ferry, Margaret Eldredge of Old Saybrook, Lucy Bakewell-Barnes of Centerbrook, and Ann Woodward of Bedford Corners, N.Y.; four son-in-laws; six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

The memorial service will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at St. Ann's Episcopal Church, 82 Shore Road, Old Lyme.The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Groton School, P.O. Box 991, Groton, MA 01450; Valley Railroad Company, P.O. Box 452, Essex, CT 06426; or North Cove Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program, P.O. Box 298, Old Saybrook, CT 06475.

Arrangements are with Swan Funeral Home, 1224 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook.
Published in The Day on Jan. 13, 2013
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