George Fletcher, Native Son and Former Selectman Was Last Dairy Farmer in Westford

George Spencer Fletcher, Westford’s iconic connection to its agricultural roots, died March 15 at age 83.

Fletcher was a fourth generation farmer who ran a dairy farm off Depot Street with 150 cows. It was the last one in this town once rich with apple orchards and dairy farms.

In 1989, his decision to sell 60 acres to a residential developer launched a period of growth and development in Westford that required the construction of three schools between 2002 and 2003. Families with young children flocked to the town and the student population ballooned.

Fletcher was quoted in a 2005 Boston Globe article as saying, ”I often told people that my dad brought up six kids with 25 cows, and I brought up five kids with 150 cows. Most dairy farms today, they’ve got to have 500 cows to do the same thing.”

The house he lived in at 3 Plain Road, just behind Depot Street, was built by his grandparents, Joseph Willard (1856 – 1936) and Etta H. (Whidden) Fletcher (1864 – 1921), according to Robert W. Oliphant in his book, “The Westford Gazetteer: A History of Westford, Massachusetts In Its Place Names.”

George Fletcher also built a farm stand in the mid- to late-1980s known as Stony Brook Acres, enlisting his five children to help sell the produce grown on the farm. He put the farm stand up for sale in 2005 and sold it to David and Marie Sparks of Westford.

Fletcher was so integral to the history of the town, that Thomas G. Paquette, author of “Legendary Locals of Westford,” devoted a page to him.

“Fletcher (1933- present),” Paquette wrote, “a native of Westford, attended the Frost School, Westford Academy and the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Fletcher is synonymous with public service in the town of Westford…”

According to Paquette, Fletcher served on the Westford Fire Department for 43 years, spending 20 years as its deputy fire chief. He was the animal inspector, animal control officer, and the sealer of weights and measures. He served three years as selectman among other boards and committees, including the conservaton commission for five years. He not only took care of the town’s pristine wooded area known as “East Boston Camps,” but he had served as a member of the East Boston Camps Master Plan Committee after the town purchased the 287 acres in 2005.

In August 2011, Fletcher made local headlines when a pig he was transporting to the Pig `N Pepper Fest went on the lam for weeks on end. Fletcher told a reporter he had borrowed the pig from Bear Hill Farm in Tyngsborough and transported it in a dog cage in the back of his pick up truck. But the cage was messy, he said. So, along the way, Fletcher stopped at his farmhouse, took the pig out of the cage and put it in a harness. But Porky slipped out of the harness and took off. Eventually, the pig was caught, but not before residents living near Depot Street amused the rest of the town with pig sightings in their backyards.

Fletcher is survived by his wife of 28 years, Deborah (Levi) Fletcher. According to an obituary posted by the Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford, he is also “survived by two sons, Peter S. Fletcher and his partner Christopher Hartmann, of Boston, and Robert Fletcher and his wife, Cheryl, of South Hampton, three daughters, Sandra LaPrade and her partner, Randy Allmond of Grafton, Janet and her husband, Michael Palermo of Nashua, New Hampshire, and Lauren Fletcher of Hudson, New Hampshire, a stepson Levi Rothman and his wife Esther, of Las Vegas, Nevada, a stepdaughter Sarah Rothman and her husband Nicholas Kershbaumer, of Manchester, New Hampshire, 14 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and many close family friends.

He was preceded by his siblings Rowland Fletcher, Willard Fletcher, Walter Fletcher, and Charlotte (Fletcher) Stone. He is survived by his sister Barbara (Fletcher) Greenhalgh of Virginia.”

MEMORIAL SERVICE

“A Thanksgiving for the Life of George Fletcher will be held on Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 10 Billerica Road in Chelmsford. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Caleb Butler Masonic Lodge in Ayer. Arrangements by Dolan Funeral Home 978-251-4041.”

Source: Dolan Funeral Home

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