Showing posts with label State Rep. Jessica Fay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label State Rep. Jessica Fay. Show all posts

Friday, June 14, 2024

New bench in Raymond honors legacy of community champion George Bartlett

By Ed Pierce

For anyone who knew him, the late George Bartlett of Raymond was a tireless community champion and someone who unselfishly gave of his time to others. Now his kind spirit and generous nature will forever be remembered as a new granite bench in his memory has been dedicated at Raymond Veterans Park overlooking Sebago Lake.

The family of late businessman and community supporter
George Bartlett gather at Raymond Veterans Park on 
Saturday, June 8 as a bench was dedicated in his honor
there and was donated by his fellow members of the
Sebago Lake Rotary Club. From left are George's 
grandson, Owen Bartlett, son George Bartlett, wife
Jane Bartlett, and daughter Vicki Bartlett.
Bartlett was 84 when he died last July following a brief illness. He owned and operated the Busy Bee Laundromat in Windham for 38 years and was heavily involved in the activities of both the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sebago Lake Rotary Club where he helped organized events that helped those less fortunate in the area.

To pay tribute to his willingness to step up and help his neighbors and his service as an international ambassador for the Rotary Club, members of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club purchased the granite bench and hosted the dedication event for Bartlett’s family and friends. The ceremony included an American Legion Color Guard and a bagpiper and several of his friends and Rotary colleagues shared stories about working with him.

“George was the epitome of what it is to be a member of Rotary,” said Sebago Lake Rotary Club President Robin Mullins. “George was a Rotarian for 38 years and he accomplished so many good things during that time.”

As an international ambassador for Rotary, starting in 1990 and continuing right up until a few months before his death in 2023, Bartlett made numerous trips to Romania, bringing them greatly needed medical supplies and books for students. During a Rotary International project in 1998, he helped to collect and deliver more than $750,000 worth of dialysis and medical equipment for Romanian hospitals. While in Romania, he lived with Romanian families and developed many long-distance, lasting friendships.

He also was instrumental in establishing Rotary-affiliated Interact Clubs for high school students in Maine. While there, he stayed with his adopted Rotary family, making long-distance, long-term friendships. While visiting Romania, he was directly responsible for launching new Interact Clubs in Ramnicu, Valcea, and other seven cities throughout Romania and he also helped a young student from Romania, Gabriella Saftiou, to visit Maine. Bartlett continued to stay in touch with Saftiou and other Romania families he became close friends with on his trips there right up until his death.

Through operating his business, the Busy Bee Laundromat for 38 years, Bartlett kept his finger on the pulse of the community and knew what was important to residents of the Lakes Region.

“I didn’t know George for as long as some of the other people here today did,” Mullins said. “He was someone I valued though and always made time to see him when he came to my office. Once he asked me what I thought would be a great local charity to benefit from the Polar Dip, which was part of the Sebago Lake Rotary Club's Annual Ice Fishing Derby. I recommended the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce’s charitable trust called ‘Feed The Need’ which benefits food pantries throughout the Lakes Region. We then started the Sebago Lakes Region Polar Dip for Feed the Need in 2021.”

His father owned the Bartlett Radio Company when he was young and while helping at his father’s business after school, he became interested in mechanics, and later earned a college degree in mechanical engineering after a stint in the U.S. Army. Being an adept mechanic helped him maintain and repair washing machines and dryers at the Busy Bee Laundromat, which he opened in 1985 in Windham.

Mullins said that Bartlett’s outgoing personality made it easy for him to make friends and encourage others to lend a hand for charitable projects. His energy seemed to be boundless.

“He was a great partner for me in organizing the Polar Dip,” she said. “My job is to take the volunteers and help them work together on projects to benefit the community. There was nobody better at doing that.”

According to Mullins, Bartlett was also deeply spiritual, and she would ask him to give the invocation before Rotary Club meetings.

“His invocations were always hand-written on little pieces of paper, and somehow he never lost his place,” she said. “His care about others was a result of his spirituality.”

State Rep. Jessica Fay of Raymond said that the new bench is a fitting tribute to Bartlett.

“What a great way to remember our friend who spent his life supporting this community,” Fay said. “He just made people feel comfortable. George Bartlett spent so much of his life giving to others and he would want you to think about volunteering if he were here today.”

Bartlett’s daughter, Vicki Bartlett, said that her family was pleased to learn that a bench would be created in his honor by the Rotary Club.

“It’s such an honor,” she said. “Dad did so many wonderful things with the community. He did it his way, but he would be honored and humbled by this gesture today.”

She said something many people didn’t know about her father was that he loved magic and started performing magic tricks at a young age and was also a puppeteer. <

Friday, May 24, 2024

Not forgotten: Memorial recalls loss of two World War II British pilots in Sebago Lake

By Ed Pierce

A gathering in Raymond 80 years and one day after a fateful crash during World War II remembered two British Royal Navy pilots killed while flying over Sebago Lake on Friday, May 17.

British Royal Navy Commander Vincent Owen salutes a new
memorial for two World War II British pilots who crashed
and died on a training mission over Sebago Lake in 1944
during a ceremony May 17 at Veterans Park in Raymond. 
Looking on is a contingent of U.S. sailors from the USS
John Basilone. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE       
Representatives from Great Britain and the United States dedicated a new memorial at Veterans Park in Raymond in the memory of the British aviators with two nephews of one of the lost pilots in attendance. The special ceremony included sailors from the USS John Basilone, the British Royal Navy, State Senator Tim Nangle, State Representative Jessica Fay, members of the Raymond Select Board, Raymond town officials and Dr. Peter Abbott, the British Consulate General for New England.

On May 16, 1944, a squadron of British Navy D4V Corsairs took off from Brunswick on a low-level formation training flight intended to give the pilots experience flying at low altitude over a body of water. Among the group of pilots that day were British Royal Navy Sub-Lieutenant Vaughn Reginald “Reggie” Gill, 24, who was flying aircraft JT-132, and Sub-Lieutenant Raymond Laurence Knott, 19, piloting aircraft JT-160. Both men were assigned to 732nd Squadron based at nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine.

As the formation passed over Sebago Lake near Raymond, Gill’s Corsair JT-132 suddenly banked sharply and struck the lake, sending a large plume of water flying into the air striking Knott’s aircraft, causing it to also crash into the lake. Within a matter of seconds, both aircraft quickly sank below the waters of the lake and disappeared. A military search and crash investigation began for the pilots using amphibian planes and U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy diving bell was deployed in Sebago Lake, but no aircraft debris was ever found except for a Corsair D4V radio antenna and a small piece of an aircraft headrest.

The families of the lost pilots back in England were notified of the crash by telegram in 1944 and both pilots were declared missing in action by the Royal Navy.

In the 1990s, the Corsairs were discovered and photographed underwater in Sebago Lake more than 300 feet below the surface. A project was planned to recover the Corsairs but in 2003, a judge ruled that the aircraft and the pilots’ remains are not to be disturbed and considered to be war graves.

Last fall, the nephews of pilot “Reggie” Gill, Giles Bradley of Exeter, England and David Gill of Oxford, England, first heard about an effort to create a memorial for the pilots at Veterans Park in Raymond. “Reggie” Gill was born in India to British parents and had studied at the university level before wanting to serve his country as a Royal Navy pilot.

Bradley and Gill had heard stories through the years about their late uncle from relatives and both say they consider themselves fortunate to be able to travel to Maine and represent their family for the dedication. Surviving family members of Sub-Lieutenant Knott were unable to attend the ceremony.

“We think it’s amazing that they finally have a memorial,” Bradley said. “It’s a splendid occasion for such a fitting tribute.”

David McIntire of Raymond, the lone member of Raymond’s Veterans Committee and a retired U.S. Army officer, worked closely with James Normington, a representative of the British Commonwealth and Remembrance Project – USA to create a lasting memorial lakeside for the two Royal Navy pilots Gill and Knott.

A granite memorial was purchased from Collette Monuments in Lewiston and designed by David McIntire and Collette Monuments and approved by the British and Commonwealth Remembrance Project and the British Consulate General Peter Abbott.

Funding for the memorial was paid for by the British and Commonwealth Remembrance Project. That is a British organization situated in New England, which recognizes the service and sacrifice made by British and Commonwealth service personnel in times of war. Its volunteers help look after more than 200 British war grave sites throughout the New England area from World War I and World War II.

The day before the memorial’s dedication, the Maine Warden Service took “Reggie” Gill’s nephews out on Sebago Lake by boat and showed them where the Corsairs crashed, and where the planes sank below the water.

“We feel very privileged and honored to have done that,” Gill said. “And for us to be here on the 80th anniversary of the accident is very moving.”

The memorial dedication ceremony included speeches by Royal Navy Commander Vincent Owen and USS John Basilone Commander Carne Livingston.

Wreaths were placed on the memorial recalling the pilots’ ultimate sacrifice by Abbott and Peter Richardson, president of the British Officers Club of New England.

Normington said that dedicating the memorial almost 80 years to the day that the pilots died reinforces how difficult it was to serve in the military at that time.

“We remember what brought them here to Maine to begin with and we cannot forget,” he said. <