1975 Honoree


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 to vote.

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 grandchildren.

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 committee.

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 daily.

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

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