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Francis Bartlett

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Francis Bartlett Obituary
Francis A. Bartlett

RICHMOND Francis A. Bartlett, 83, civic leader and dean of Berkshire County apple growers, died at his home Saturday morning after a long battle with cancer. He and his wife Betty, who survives him, have been raising prize apples in Richmond since 1947.

Born at his parents' home in Wallingford, Conn., he was the son of Joseph Arcade Bartlett and Sophie Pinkowski Bartlett, who were originally from West Rutland, Vt. Francis graduated from Lyman Hall High School in Wallingford and almost immediately, at the age of 18, bought the 52-acre Yokun Road orchard from Arthur Howard of Richmond.

Three years later, February 11, 1950, he married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth (Betty) Lathrop, and they made their home in a small house surrounded by apple trees planted in 1925 and 1926 by Mr. Howard. Years later, Francis commented that Mr. Howard had chosen his orchard site well on a gentle slope where the air would move around the trees easily and where trees would be at different levels, reducing the overall vulnerability to late frosts.

Devoted to his family and the apples, Francis was also active in Richmond affairs. He and his wife were sponsors of the town's bicentennial celebration and of Katharine Huntington Annin's history of the town, as well as supporters of the chamber music presented by the Richmond Performance Series. He served two different stints on the Board of Selectmen, serving three years in the 1960s and three years in the 1970s. At that time, the Selectmen were also the Board of Health, and Fran was involved in planning of the several housing developments that created a growth spurt in Richmond.

When the two boards separated, Fran was elected to the Board of Health, which took an active role in water quality at Richmond Pond, proper septic field construction and water quality at the Richmond School, Town Hall and Richmond Congregational Church. He was on the board in 1980 when roadside trash collection replaced the landfill.

In 2009, his contributions were recognized by the community when he and Betty were awarded the Charles and Mary Kusik Citizenship Award. It was the first time a couple had been honored with the award.

Fran also found time to enjoy life. He vacationed regularly on the coast of Connecticut, loved exploring Long Island Sound in his boat, took flying lessons at the Great Barrington Airport and enjoyed traveling to new places.

As a farmer, Francis moved with the times. His small farm stand on Yokun Road became a large building on Swamp Road, apple spraying methods changed, aided by improved technology and reflecting environmental concerns, acres of dwarf trees replaced some of the elderly trees, and new varieties took their place beside the familiar McIntosh, Cortland and Northern spy. Today, the Swamp Road outlet is open year-round, with a complete selection of fresh vegetables added to the produce, along with coffee and doughnuts.

Bartlett's Orchard is still very much a family affair. Semi-retired in recent years, Francis put orchard operations in the hands of his sons, Richard and Ronald, who started working in the business as youngsters. Grandchildren have been frequently involved as well.

In addition to his wife and sons, Francis is survived by his daughter Linda Bartlett-Dorangrichia of Clifton Park, N.Y. and her partner Dr. Manuel Alguero; his daughters-in-law, Joan Chapman Bartlett and Cindy Bartlett, both of Richmond; and his grandchildren, Cherisse Ponraj and her husband David, Grant Dorangrichia, Erick Bartlett, Trevor Bartlett and his wife Julie, Elizabeth Jean Bartlett, Justin Bartlett and Micaela Bartlett.

FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral services for Francis A. Bartlett will be held Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. from the DERY FUNERAL HOME in Pittsfield followed by a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Church celebrated by the Rev. John Salatino, pastor. Burial will follow in Richmond Center Cemetery. Calling hours will be held Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Dery Funeral Home

In lieu of flowers, friends are encouraged to contribute to the Anita Chapman Scholarship Fund or Hospice Care in the Berkshires, both in care of the funeral home, 54 Bradford Street, Pittsfield.


Published in The Berkshire Eagle on July 30, 2012
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