Bernard ‘Bing’ A. Etzel


1921 – 2014

AUBURN — Bernard “Bing” Adam Etzel, 93, of Farmington, passed away Friday, Dec. 5, at the Hospice House.

He was born on Dec. 3, 1921, in Amherst, Mass., the middle son of George F. and Fanny L. (Jacobs) Etzel. Bing was a prominent businessman, civil servant, family man and longtime resident of Farmington.

Bing attended schools in Freeport, graduating from Freeport High School in 1939. He graduated cum laude from the University of Maine in Orono, with a degree in horticulture in 1943, being a member of the Alpha Zeta Honorary Society and Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity, serving as its president in 1942.

During World War II, he served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army in France and Germany, being wounded twice in action and receiving the Purple Heart.

He married his college sweetheart, Elizabeth F. Emery, of Fairfield in 1945. They had three sons, Alan and wife, Liisa, of Helsinki, Finland; David and wife, Jan, of Naples, Fla.; and Stephen and wife, Andie, of Farmington. There are five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He purchased a small store from his father in-law, Leon Emery, under the name of Emery’s Dry Goods on Broadway in Farmington in 1946. He expanded the store to a successful business under the name of Emery’s Fashions. Later, he started purchasing large, older homes in Farmington and converting them into apartment houses.

Bing served the town of Farmington as a selectman and the Village Corporation as a director for many years. He was a bank director at First National Bank in Farmington. He served as president of the Bonney Woods Corp. for many years. He worked with the late James Flint in developing the plans and trails for Flint Woods.

He and his family were active in the Henderson Memorial Baptist Church, where he served in the choir and as a deacon. He sold his enlarged store business and the apartment buildings in 1972 to retire. Sports Illustrated featured Bing in an article on how to retire successfully.

He attended the University of Maine at Farmington to study ornithology and photography. For 10 winters, he and his wife traveled by motor home across the country to find and photograph birds. He entertained people statewide, lecturing and showing his bird photography. His interest in horticulture led to the expanding of his gardens around his Anson Street home and woods known as “Beechwood.” He was featured in a Downeast publication, “Grand Masters of Maine Gardening.”

He tramped many miles to search for ferns to develop the state’s most complete collection of ferns native to Maine. He shared his enthusiasm for plants and ferns with many college students and plant lovers. He assisted the Mt. Blue Garden Club in establishing many gardens in the town of Farmington.

Bing was an avid hiker and particularly enjoyed the Appalachian Trail. He was an accomplished tennis player well into his 80s, especially in Florida. He and his wife purchased a home in Fort Myers, Fla., in 1981, to spend their winters there, but always returned in the spring with great pleasure to Farmington and their Beechwood.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth; his sister, Mary; his sons, Alan, David and Stephen; his daughters-in-law, Liisa, Jan-Marie and Andrea “Andie”; his grandchildren, Lily, Adam, Susan “Suzy”, Peter and Victoria “Tory”; his great-grandchildren, Otis and Tommy; as well as many nieces and nephews.

Bing was predeceased by his parents and his brother, George.