By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
Earlier this year, the local Grange Hall was the site of a surprise thank-you luncheon entitled “The Mail Truck’s Last Stop” held in honor of Carroll and Doris Earle (at left), who retired after more than 30 years as contract delivery carriers for the US Postal Service.
Melissa Lynds Photo
BRIDGEWATER CORNERS — Local resident Carroll F. Earle was a mentor to nearly all who knew and loved him. Described by a close friend, he was the quintessential Vermonter who cared deeply for his fellow man. He was a soft spoken and gentle man who loved his family and often pushed his own needs aside to be with them.
“He was a great man,” said Earle’s grandson, Nathan (Earle) Deveau. “I learned from him the value of hard work, keeping your word and always lending a helping hand. He never missed an important event in my life, even traveling to Maine to attend my college graduation, my wedding, and my oldest daughter’s first birthday. He made me feel like I mattered. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and never wanted anything in return, a value I will make sure to pass on to my own daughters.”
Earle, 85, died Nov.17, 2013, at Cedar Hill Health Care in Windsor. A memorial was held on Nov. 21 at the Cabot Funeral Home in Woodstock, and a funeral service on Nov. 22 at the Bethany Mennonite Church in Bridgewater Corners. Burial followed in the Topliff Cemetery.
“Everyone called him Pop,” said Earle’s son, Edwin. “I think he was one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. He always had a smile on his face. I thought of him as my teacher, mentor, hero, and boss but, most of all, he was my Pop.”
A veteran of the Korean War, Earle was born on November 21, 1927 in Bridgewater. He was the son of Clifford N. and Vera (Furman) Earle. He had numerous jobs including driving a school bus, delivering sawdust, working for Putnam Construction, a mail carrier for the postal service, a sugar maker, and a dairy farmer.
In 2002, he was named Bridgewater’s Citizen of the Year.
“He was an exceptional man,” said Earle’s wife, Doris. “He was a kind and gentle man. He loved everybody. I just can’t tell you. He was great to everybody.”
Earle was also a skier, skater, avid Red Sox fan, and dancer.
“He will be missed by all, especially his family,” said Linda Maxham, Vermont Standard correspondent in her weekly column.
He was also an active community member said good friend Lyle Boisvert who knew Earle for 50 years.
“He was a good person,” said Boisvert. “He was helpful to everybody. I will miss seeing him around. He was always happy-golucky.”
Son Edwin recalled the time when his father pulled someone’s car out of a ditch and refused to be compensated.
“He would never take anything for it,” said Edwin. “He’d rather have the person give to his church.”
Earle gained a reputation — causing most to smile or even laugh — of teaching neighborhood children how to drive.
“He taught everybody,” said Earle’s daughter, Linda Scott-Andrews. “He did so before kids’ feet could hit the pedals.”
Close friend Tom Smith related at Earle’s funeral that driving wasn’t the only activity neighborhood residents learned.
“He taught many people many things,” said Smith, who lives in Plymouth. “He taught me how to make maple syrup. He taught others how to plow snow and how to farm. He was my teacher and my professor.”
Smith recalled the time when he first met Earle.
“I had just moved here,” said Smith. “Carroll and his wife, Doris, were our mail deliverers. I had a load of topsoil sitting in the driveway and knew that, with a wheelbarrow, it would take about a month to move. All of a sudden, Carroll arrived with his tractor and moved it in about 20 minutes. I asked him what I owed him, and he said nothing, that that was what neighbors did for each other.”
“This is why I moved to Vermont,” Smith added.
Daughter Debora of Shoreham, recalled the time her father cancelled a doctor’s appointment to be at the birth of one of his great granddaughters.
“There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for (his family),” said Debora.
Another great granddaughter, Eva Earle, reminisced about the stories her great grandfather told her.
“My Papa was the greatest Papa a girl my age could have,” said Eva. “He used to tell me about when he would make maple syrup and how he made it. He told me about growing up on the farm when he was a kid and how my Dad, Nathan, and my Uncle Mark helped him on the farm. My Papa loved his chocolate — chocolate bars, chocolate-covered cherries, you name it. He told me about going into the Korean War and how anxious and nervous he was. My Papa was a brave man.”
Eva recollected her last visit with him.
“He kissed me on the right cheek and gave me the warmest hug anyone could imagine,” she said. “The last words he said to me were, ‘I love you’ and ‘I can’t wait to see you again.’ I loved him so much. I miss him dearly but I know some day I’ll see him again and he can tell me more stories.”
Earle is survived by his wife of 56 years, Doris (Billings) Earle; his five children, Linda Scott-Andrews and her husband, Rodney Andrews, Debora and James Oldenburg Jr., Tammi Earle and her partner, Robert Berg, Edwin P. and his wife, Tammy Earle, and Carolsue and her husband, Wiliam Hannabury; 14 grandchildren; give great grandchildren; his brother, Robert Earle; and extended family, Robin and Bob Ennis. He is predeceased by his parents; four siblings, Florence Frost, Nadia Geno, Earnest Earle, and Marilyn Blodgett; and a grandson, Mark G. Earle.
(This story was first published in the November 27, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)