TOWNSEND — June saw the passing of two Townsend residents who dedicated decades of service to the community.
Samuel J. Briguglio, 78, had served as a water commissioner for 28 years for the Townsend Water Department.
John Pelletier, 83, offered his services to Townsend starting in 1959 and continued until 2004. During that time was always involved in at least one position, but the majority of the time it was at least two.
Their dedication to volunteer service to the town was something they had in common.
Town clerk Daniel Murphy described the two men as, “two great public-oriented people.”
“John and Sam were a lot alike in that way,” said Murphy.
One difference between the two men was demonstrated by their funerals.
Briguglio had a public wake and funeral, while Pelletier’s services were quiet and private.
Briguglio’s funeral and wake brought a large gathering from the Board of Water Commissioners and other members of the town.
Water Superintendent Paul Rafuse said he had worked with Briguglio for almost 27 years, but really got to know him over the past 11.
“He gave a lot of himself to the town,” said Rafuse. “Anybody that serves on a board, especially that long of a time, has my respect.”
“We did have some differences here and there but it was all within business,” said Rafuse. “And then we’d go play golf.”
Golf was one of Briguglio’s passions, said Rafuse, along with fishing and gardening.
Along with volunteering, Briguglio managed to own and operate the Apple Meadow Hardware Store in Townsend for nearly 20 years, before retiring in 1993. He continued serving on the Board of Water Commissioners until last year.
“He was a well-respected, likable guy who was dedicated to whatever he was involved in,” said Rafuse. “He was good to everyone personally and professionally.”
“His funeral is a testament to how well he was liked,” said Rafuse.
Although his funeral was private, just asking about Pelletier in Memorial Hall reveals the impact he’s had on people’s lives.
“Anytime I had a problem, I’d call John,” said administrative assistant Carolyn Smart. “He knew everything about this place.”
Pelletier’s knowledge of the town came from his long service in several capacities, including but not limited to selectman, chairman of the Board of Health, Water Commissioner, Town Charter Commission, constable, civil defense police officer, auxiliary police officer, regular police officer, president of the Townsend Ambulance Association, a member of the Townsend Fire Department Building Committee which successfully built the new Harbor fire station, a member of the town Personnel Board, chairman of the Revaluation Committee, Nashoba Board of Health Study Committee, Street Light and Fence Viewing committees, Democratic Town Committee, and the Town Hall Restoration Committee.
“Someone who’s put in the number of decades of dedication as John is extremely hard to replace,” said town administrator Gregory Barnes. “I expect that if you go look at the 21st century it’s going to be very difficult to find someone comparable with what John did.”
Pelletier’s contributions to Townsend went beyond his résumé, though.
“He was the father of Town Hall,” said administrative assistant Sherry Vaughan.
“He was like a father figure to me,” added Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Hanks.
Pelletier was the wire inspector when Hanks started working at Memorial Hall.
“We almost instantly became friends,” said Hanks. “He had a rough exterior, but was very kind-hearted.”
“If you were his friend and you needed something, he’d be right there for you,” said Hanks.
Hanks added that Pelletier would let people know right away what he thought of them.
Police Chief Erving Marshall, who knew Pelletier for most of his life, said, “He was very opinionated, and he let people know what his opinion was.”
His honesty carried over into all of his roles in town, including his role as a selectman.
“Whether it was the popular thing to do or not, he’d do it if it was good for the town,” said Murphy.
“He wasn’t afraid to tackle anything,” said Hanks. “I’m so glad I got the opportunity to meet him and spend 10 years with him. He’s going to be missed.”
Like Briguglio, Pelletier continually dedicated himself to Townsend until the very end of his life.
“You just don’t find people like that today, who donate that much of themselves to the community,” said Marshall.
Memorial contributions in Pelletier’s memory may be made to the Townsend 275th Anniversary Committee, P.O. Box 115, Townsend, MA 01469.
Memorial contributions in Briguglio’s memory may be made to the Nashoba Nursing & Hospice Program, 2 Shaker Road, Shirley, MA 01464.