ARTHUR B. POOLE
Raymond G. Bentley has been named the
first recipient of the Arthur B. Poole Memorial Award.
The award is specifically fitting this year since Bentley
and Poole were long-time personal friends as well as
fellow civic leaders.
Ray Bentley came to Harwinton in 1896 and has been an
active but modest participant in town affairs throughout
his adult life.
His name and face are well known at town meetings which
he moderated for many years. It is said that he has
attended nearly every town meeting since he was eligible
A state representative for three two-year terms, he
also served on the committee that arranged with the
state for the construction of the state road from the
Harwinton Congregational Church to the Burlington town
line in 1925.
He served as an assessor in Harwinton between 1919 and
1926, served on the Board of Education from 1920 to
1938, was deputy registrar of voters for four terms
and town auditor from 1930 to 1936.
Among his most outstanding achievements is the publishing
of the “History of Harwinton” in 1971. The
book was written after 10 years of compiling a written
record of the development of the town intended for his
He comments frequently on the constant inspiration he
received for the project from his late wife, Gladys
Reynolds Bentley. He completed the work after her death
in 1968 and it is to her memory that the book is dedicated.
A self-employed farmer through the 1920s, he served
as road foreman under first selectman Chauncey E. Hutchings
in the early 1930s. He was employed as well by the Connecticut
State Milk Administration, first as an inspector and
later as an auditor, a position he maintained until
his retirement in 1968 after 25 years of service.
He s a past member of the Litchfield County fair Association
and past president and secretary of the Harwinton Agricultural
Society. He has the unsung distinction of having attended
84 Harwinton fairs during his 83 years. (His first appearance
was before his first birthday).
A member of the Harwinton Grange No. 45 for more than
50 years, charter member of the Harwinton Volunteer
Fire Dept., Harwinton Historical Society and the Hungerford
Memorial Library Board, he and his father D.K. Bentley,
were instrumental in the forming of West Cemetery Assn.
A member and past treasurer of the Harwinton Congregational
Church, he took charge of the work detail after the
church was destroyed by fire in 1949.
We he resigned as chairman of the Hungerford Memorial
Library Board he was selected curator of the historic
museum which he help organize. Librarian Sue Stephenson
commented on the establishment of the museum and Bentley’s
contribution to it. “He was the moving spirit
behind it and saw to it that the construction was done.”
Among his hobbies he is a collector of automobile license
plates and railroad memorabilia. For years he read “General
Logan’s Orders” at Memorial Day services
in town and served on the original Memorial Day parade
He has been extremely influential in the restoration
and upkeep of the First District Schoolhouse and raises
and lowers the flag on the pole in front of the building
President of the Historical Society Carl Pallokat, upon
hearing of Bentley’s receipt of the award commented,
“Ray Bentley has definitely dedicated his free
moments to Harwinton and the study of its history. His
untiring efforts at helping the Historical Society research
record, providing a helping hand, giving the needed
stimulus and most of all his subtle humor made the move
of the schoolhouse a successful one.”
Born during what he call “horse and buggy”
days, Bentley is often found at small gatherings reflecting
on changes that have taken place during his 79 years
in Harwinton. As he states in his book, he has tried
to give future generations “a picture of the amazing
changes which have taken place.” And certainly
his record shows that he took part in, and at times
was responsible for, many of those changes.
Harwinton Historical Society Scrapbook
The Torrington Register Newspaper