We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Witty's Funeral Home
ORANGE-William “Bill” W. Ellsworth Jr. died the evening of July 31 at the age of 79 in the company of his family at Heywood Hospital in Gardner.
Born March 1, 1943 to William W. Ellsworth Sr and Marion Luella "Lou" Ellsworth in Petersham MA. Bill graduated from Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in the class of ’61.
Bill and his brother John were avid and skillful canoe racers. Together they were Rat Race Kings, having won the race from Athol to Orange on the Millers River seven times total and four consecutively from 1965-68. Bill also successfully competed in the General Clinton Canoe Regatta on the Susquehanna River in New York with over 15 finishes of the 70-mile race. He also had several great races of the Classique Du Canots, a three-day race in Canada on the St Maurice River.
In addition to his love of paddling, Bill was an avid sportsman overall. He went on multiple trips out west hunting elk, antelope, and deer with both rifle and bow. His first trip to Alaska was with Windy Anderson in 1971. Their super-8 films of the incredible wildlife and majestic Alaskan scenery were much appreciated and shown at sportsman clubs across the region. Bill even excelled at horseshoes, winning the New England Championships.
Bill’s love of being in the outdoors, and the woods themselves, led to a career owning and operating a sawmill in Petersham, MA. Bill was an excellent welder. He could fix anything, including the mill machinery that he nursed into productivity each and every day. In later years he and his son, Tom, not only got back into canoe racing, often together, but they also started “Skunk Works” where they built and designed wood strip boats for the rat race.
One of Bill’s favorite places was the deep woods of Maine and camping alongside Little Pillsbury Pond. He would spend months in the North Woods trapping, hunting grouse and deer, and fishing. He brought generations to visit him including his grandchildren, son and daughter-in-law continuously passing on his passion and competence in the out of doors to the next generation.
His devotion to the land also included conserving his own property in Petersham, as a place that will be permanently protected and available to the public for hunting, fishing, and enjoyment. Bill loved blueberry picking, playing the guitar, and occasional hell raising. He will be missed by his family, as well as numerous canoe and hunting buddies.
Bill is survived by his siblings John Ellsworth and his wife Harriet, their children Sasha Dyer and her husband Dave, Brianna Skowyra and her husband Tom, and his sister Mary Lou Condike and her husband Brian, and their daughter Meridith Young. He will also be greatly missed by his son Tom Ellsworth and his wife Emma, his daughter Jeanette Schnall and her husband Martin, and his grandchildren Chelsea, Cole, and Brandon.
They will hold him in hearts and memories as they enjoy loving what he loved, practicing what he taught, and sharing tales of Bill’s exploits.
Please join us for a party to celebrate Bill’s life and antics on Sunday August 14th, 2-5pm at 185 Royalston Rd, Orange MA 01364.
Witty’s Funeral Home, 158 South Main Street, Orange, is assisting the family.
Guest book online at WWW.WITTYFUNERALHOME.COM