Woman remembered as self-sufficient, intent on preserving town’s history


NEW SHARON — Gertrude Hattley was remembered as an independent, self-sufficient woman who was interested in New Sharon’s government and worked hard to try to preserve its history. She also loved animals and helped found the Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington, her friend Bill Reid of New Sharon said Monday.

Hattley, 89, died Friday at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

Hattley was a familiar figure at New Sharon town meetings as she hand-counted ballots with other ballot clerks for those running for elected positions. She served as a ballot clerk for more than 20 years and is believed to have last counted ballots in 2008 before she fell and was injured.

“She was always here. She was always interested in town government and preserving the town,” Town Clerk Rose Mary Eller said. “She was a very determined woman, a very independent woman, a sweet woman. She was a very interesting woman to talk to. She was a woman of the world. She knew everything. She is going to be missed.”

Hattley’s most famous effort to preserve the town’s history came after she was named to the town’s Save The Bridge Committee. Hattley spearheaded the effort to save the 1916 pin-connected bridge that connected the New Sharon Village to the other side of town over the Sandy River.

Though she and others put up a good fight at the legislative level, they could neither get the $1.2 million needed for repairs nor the bridge re-opened to vehicles.

However, Hattley got the bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 for its architecture and engineering style.

Reid said he worked with Hattley on several counts including as an early member of the New Sharon Historical Society. The two were good friends and he was one of a few she allowed into her home to help her in the last couple years. She lived a simple life, he said.

She worked in the clerical field for years in a variety of companies including Forster Manufacturing and Somerset Telephone Co.

She moved to New Sharon in the 1960s with her mother.

“Gertrude was very honest, very straight-forward. She was not afraid to voice her opinion and always expressed her opinion at town meetings,” Reid said.

A lot of people don’t know this, he said, but she was among the founders of the Franklin County Animal Shelter.

“She loved animals,” he said.

He remembered once when Hattley went for a walk and found a Pomeranian dog. She knew of a family that had a Pomeranian and rounded up the dog and drove it over to where she thought it belonged. The couple was not home so Hattley opened the door and put the dog inside, he said. Well come to find out, Reid said, the couple came home to find they had two Pomeranians and all of their cats were afraid of the visiting dog.

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