Ellis Symonds Barrett, 96, of Keene, died March 1, 2015 in the comfort of his home surrounded by his family. He was born on December 8, 1918, the son of Henry and Julia (Wyman) Barrett. He grew up on the Stoneholm Farm on Summit Road in Keene.
Ellis attended Symonds School and graduated from Keene High School in 1936. His first love was flying. With Keenes airport in his backyard on Rt 12, Ellis earned his pilot license as a teenager and worked as a pilot and mechanic for Bowmans Flying Service. Mr. Barrett enlisted in the Navy and was a flight instructor during World War II, stationed in Norman, OK, New Orleans, LA and Bunker Hill, IN. Later he rebuilt a Piper Cub and gave many family and friends their first airplane ride. Ellis and friend, Doug Wilson, together built a PJ-260 aerobatic biplane capable of spectacular stunts that were often seen in the skies over Bretwood following its maiden flight in 1971.
Ellis and Joye Barrett married on June 15, 1947 at the Westmoreland United Church. On March 1, 1950 they began a 65-year partnership with Ellis brother, Toby, and his wife, Janis, purchasing a dairy farm on East Surry Road. They operated Bretwood Farm until a devastating fire in June 1967 prompted the decision to build Bretwood Golf Course. Bretwood is well known in New England and beyond for its two championship public 18-hole courses. Ellis designed and helped build 4 large covered bridges on the golf course spanning the Ashuelot River using lumber cut on his portable Wood-Mizer sawmill.
Mr. Barrett was quietly involved in community service his entire life. For decades he maintained the 4 clocks in the steeple of The United Church of Christ in Keene on Central Square. He mentored many young pilots and taught leather crafting to youth in the Best Yet 4-H Club. Ellis and Toby built baseball fields and basketball courts around Keene that are still in use today. He was a lifetime member of the EAA, Experimental Aircraft Association.
Many remember Ellis as being a jack-of-all-trades, and master of most. He was a self-taught engineer at his core, a mechanic, designer, builder, craftsman, artist and generous humanitarian. Mr. Barrett built the rope ski tow on the hill behind the house, powered by a John Deere tractor, where many family members and friends learned to ski. Ellis was known to say he could fix anything but a broken heart. He had a keen sense of humor and thought his obituary should read: Ellis Barrett, born in Keene, lived in Keene, died in Keene. He had a sharp mind and an amazing memory, told jokes, and could recite the poetry of Robert Service. Mr. Barrett enjoyed playing cribbage and solving the daily Sudoku. He also liked to watch sports and How Its Made on TV. He was very family-oriented and felt extremely fortunate to have his 5 children living within the community.
Survivors include his son, Matthew Barrett and his wife, Laura, of Surry; three daughters, Rebecca Barrett of Surry; Kathryn Blair and her husband, Michael, of Keene; and Julie Barrett and her partner, Kevin Postrech, of Gilsum; daughter-in-law, Deborah Barrett of Gilsum; seven grandchildren, Hannah Barrett, Ethan Barrett, Jason Barrett, Lucas Barrett, Benjamin Jarrell, Kaisa Jarrell, and Christina Blair; and five great-grandchildren, Andrew, Kendall, Jonathan, Matthew, and Kalynn; his brother, Aubrey Toby Barrett, and sister-in-law, Janis Barrett, and their 5 children, Anne, Tom, Bonnie, Hugh and Caren; and many more beloved friends, nieces and nephews. Joye Barrett, his wife of 67 years, passed away in August 2014. His son, William Bill Barrett, died in January 2014, and his grandson, Elijah Barrett, died in August 2007. Mr. Barrett was predeceased by his siblings Madge Johnson, Evans Barrett, Martha Allen and Bruce Barrett.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 21 at 1 pm at The United Church of Christ in Keene, 23 Central Square. Calling hours will be held Friday, March 20 from 6 to 8 pm at Cheshire Family Funeral Chapel, 44 Maple Ave, Keene (www.cheshirefamilyfh.com).
The family requests that donations be sent in Mr. Barretts memory to the Elijah Barrett Scholarship Fund at Surry Village Charter School, 449 Route 12A, Surry, NH 03431 or to the Steeple Restoration Fund at The United Church of Christ in Keene, 23 Central Square, Keene, NH, 03431.