John S. Greenleaf

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LOCKE MILLS — John S. Greenleaf, 84, of Bethel, died on Jan. 2. Family members were with him.

John Stevens Greenleaf was born, Oct. 27, 1928, in the section of Bethel known as The Park. He was the third child and second son of Dr. Sherman S. and Mabel Stevens Greenleaf.

John attended schools in Bethel, graduating in 1946 from Gould Academy, where he ran hurdles on the track team. He attended Michigan State for a year. He graduated in 1952 from the University of Maine at Orono with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry.

Beginning in 1948, he spent several years working parttime at Riverside Farm in Mayville. He also worked as an apprentice embalmer for his father at Greenleaf Funeral Home.

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In June 1952, he married Barbara L. Babb of Somersworth, N.H., and the couple made their home in Bethel, raising two daughters and a son. They bought a house on Sunset Road, where John lived until his death.

John worked with Mary-Abbie Kilgore in leading a successful Oxford County 4-H group known as the Happy Herdsmen. John was an active member of the Bethel Jaycees in the early 1960s. He was a member of the Bethel Methodist Church, where he served on several committees and sang in the choir.

John worked as a carpenter for Stanley Davis and then for many years with George Olson. While working in construction, he developed an interest in electricity and became an apprentice electrician, eventually becoming a master electrician. He went into business for himself and was well-known as an electrician in Bethel and surrounding towns. He often was late for family holiday dinners because he’d get a call and head out to fix someone’s stove so they could cook their holiday dinner.

In July 1974, John married Arlene Mary Chase and added another daughter and son to the family. The family spent time canoeing and camping on the Saco River, going on day trips to various amusement parks and historic sites.

John worked with the Bethel Ambulance Service for 53 years, beginning at age 12 for his father who had established the service. He continued as a member of the Bethel Emergency Ambulance and Rescue Squad, retiring from ambulance service in 1983. In 2006, the ambulance facility in Bethel was named Greenleaf Station in honor of the Greenleaf family’s contributions to emergency care in the Bethel area.

John served as Civil Defense director in Bethel for many years, maintaining an emergency command center with an on-call crew and a mobile unit.

For several years, John was a CB radio operator, collecting call cards from across the country. He loved animals, maintaining feeders for birds, squirrels, turkeys and the occasional bear. John often hand-fed raccoons, calling them down from the trees. Dogs at the places he worked benefited from the treats he carried in his work van.

John had a great sense of humor and was known to enjoy a practical joke or two. He was lots of fun to go shopping with. John loved singing, often entertaining family and friends with a variety of songs in the car, at gatherings and everywhere he went. He could often be heard humming while he worked. He also loved dancing, playing horseshoes and spending time at his camp on Songo Pond. His family was the backbone of his life; his children and grandchildren were always trying to imitate his ear and nose wiggling.

John was loving, soft-spoken, kind-hearted and generous; a true gentleman. The number of people, young and old, whose lives were touched by John in some way will never be known. He will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Arlene; daughters, Christine H.G. Swain and husband, Ross, of Andover, Joan Ellen Greenleaf of Standish and Sondra G. Withey and husband, Rod, of Greenwood; son, Bruce S. Greenleaf and wife, Susan, of Granville, Vt.; daughter-in-law, Kathy S. Greenleaf of Biddeford; brother, Robert L. Greenleaf of North Scituate, R.I.; grandchildren, Steven, Ryan, Jillian, Abby and Joshua Greenleaf, Catharine Mosley, Erin Young, Burton, Rodney II, Scott, Christopher and Annabelle Withey and Rachel Gigliotti; eight great-grandchildren; his first wife, Barbara Nason of Sanford; and several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents; a sister, Arlene G. Brown; a brother, S. Eldon Greenleaf; and son, Edward M. in July 2012.

Online condolences may be shared with his family at www.chandlerfunerals.com.

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