PEPPERELL — William Greathead wasn’t just a selectman. He wasn’t just a former police officer. He was, as friends describe him, a beloved friend of the community.
So it’s fitting that a local group of residents, the Friends of Pepperell Recreation, has launched a fundraising drive for a permanent memorial to Greathead, who died suddenly earlier this year.
The project would include a Town Field sitting area and granite bench inscribed “Bill Greathead” and is part of a 14-year effort by the group to revitalize the area surrounding Town Field. In that time the group has built a new playground and paved the walking path.
Friends President Sue Boswell said the sitting area is being planned with the support of the Greathead family, and Town Administrator Andrew McLean.
“We walked around the path and picked a place that had been discussed for a future sitting place. When we turned around we realized it had a direct line of sight to the police station and we knew that had to be the place,” Boswell said.
Vice President Denene Premus recently spent time with Greathead’s adult children at the site.
“We’ve been working with the Greathead family to promote and support this fundraising effort. We also spent a little time out there physically doing a little site preparation,” Premus said.
Greathead suffered a heart attack on Feb. 28. At the time of his death, he was chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
“He just genuinely cared about the community and was such an honorable person,” Select Board Clerk Margaret Scarsdale said in early March. “He always conducted himself with such dignity. No one left a conversation with him feeling disrespected or lessened by him, he was so selfless and humble. He is already sorely missed.”
Joanna Reagan, who is affiliated with the Council on Aging and is involved in many other community initiatives, described Greathead as a “community icon.”
As part of their fundraising efforts, Friends of Pepperell Recreation is raffling off a pool courtesy of Matley Pools & Spas. Anyone in the company’s service area is eligible to win the 24-foot, above-ground pool.
If the fundraiser is successful, the area will expand beyond just one bench. It will also include a stone inscribed “come sit awhile with me” as well as two additional benches that will form an alcove. Boswell said the group would also like to add mulch, flowers or shrubs to beautify the spot.
“This is an excellent opportunity for somebody to buy tickets, support a great cause, and come out a winner with a great pool,” Premus said, speaking of increased demand for pools throughout the past year.
Premus confirmed that the winner will receive the pool and its delivery. However, the winner would need to pay for a filter, pool chemicals and the installation. Premus said that despite those purchases, the pool is still an estimated $3,000 value.
Raffle tickets are $10, or 3 tickets can be purchased for $25. Boswell said the total number of tickets has been limited to 300. They have sold about half of that number so far.
Boswell hopes the group will be able to sell all of the tickets by the end of this month. The group seeks to schedule a tentative installation date of early June.
“We’re just super-excited to be able to do this as a token of our gratitude to Bill’s life well-lived and his support of the community and happy that we’re able to work with his family,” Boswell said.
Tickets are available at Pepperell Family Pharmacy, 74 Main St., or Matley Pools & Spas, 1 Tucker St. They are also available through Venmo by sending money to Sue Boswell at @msbwll, who will send an electronic ticket.
Additionally, tickets are available for purchase by dropping off checks at Main Street Bank, 80 Main St., or by mailing it to PO Box 1533, Pepperell, MA, 01463 with “Bill Greathead” on the memo line of the check.
A Celebration of Life will be held on the Town Field at noon on Sunday, June 6. The memorial will be dedicated during the ceremony.
“Everyone is invited and we hope you will come to share some joyful memories of Bill, to see the wonderful memorial, and provide support for friends and families still struggling with his loss,” McLean said.
Friends of Pepperell asks attendees to bring their own seating, as well as a photo or a memory of Greathead. They also ask attendees to bring a small rock with a phrase or word about Greathead that can be used to make a rock memory garden for the family.
Donations are also welcome by anyone who is not interested in winning the pool. Boswell said that in addition to updates on their activities, there is a donation button on www.friendsofpepperell.org, which will direct to the group’s PayPal. More information and questions can be directed to the group via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.