Industry farmer, town leader remembered

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INDUSTRY — When Ronald Wing spoke, people always respected and listened to what he had to say, said Gil Durrell of Industry.

Wing, who was a farmer, businessman and community leader, died Saturday.

“Family and community were the most important to him,” said his daughter Beth Pelletier on Tuesday.

Durrell said Wing, 75, remained a Planning Board member since the board started in the early 1970s and had previously served as a selectman.

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He remembers him as a man who worked very hard, took on a lot of projects and had way too much to do. He was also one who enjoyed a good conversation, learning and figuring things out, he said.

“He wanted to figure out what was best for the community and country. A wise money-manager, he could squeeze a dime out of a nickel but he was well-respected for his ability. He was a very bright man who always spoke up, not with flowery language but he got his point across and people always listened to what he had to say,” Durrell said.

While serving on town boards, he used his skills to approach issues conservatively and with common sense, Pelletier said of her father.

“He’s always been interested in the town and was a good mediator at town meetings,” she said.

His son Ethan Wing said his dad began his farm, the Lazy W Farm, in 1959 and amassed property in five area towns. He was active in the Maine Farm Bureau, and Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District. In 2009, the farm was named the “State of Maine Conservation Farm of the Year.”

“He was a good friend and one of the largest dairy farmers in Franklin County. They are now an endangered species,” said County Commissioner Fred Hardy. “He was hard working and well respected.”

About a dozen years ago, the family stopped milking their herd of 220 cows, part of the nearly 500 animals on the farm during its heyday. Pelletier said Wing continued to keep heifers and often walked the boundaries of the land that he loved.

“A kind and gentle man, he loved being outdoors and loved the land. He went outside every day until two weeks ago,” she said while speaking of the cancer that he was diagnosed with early last year that  took his life Saturday.

His love of family extended to the community as he was very generous and would help people and feed anyone who stopped at he farm, Pelletier added.

When the town hall fell and the town’s fire department struggled to find a place to relocate, she said, her father donated some of his land for a new fire station, an area considered the center point of town.

“Everyone knows where the Wing farm is,” she said.

A nearly 30-year family tradition of fireworks on the Fourth of July continued with Wing donating a hayfield for the popular show, she said.

Wing’s father, a Bates College graduate from Phillips, taught school in New Hampshire but brought his wife, originally from Industry, and the family back during the summer where they grew market gardens, delivering berries and produce to Rangeley and Greenville, said Ronald’s wife, Betty.

They summered on the same property that Ronald and Betty developed over the years, she said.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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