Editor’s Note: From time to time, the Observer recognizes exceptional contributions by residents to the life of the town.
Long-time Suffield residents, Warren Packard and Blair Childs, are two of many who volunteered their time and experience to the betterment of the town. They have so much in common: devotion to family, determination to help this town in any way possible, lots of energy, intelligence and integrity.
Warren Packard was born in 1934, above the only store in the Massachusetts hill town of Worthington. He attended the University of Massachusetts as an Accounting student. The Second World War years caused him to join the Air Force ROTC and in his three years of active duty he went from navigator training in Texas to regular flights to the UK and Dover, Delaware, transporting missiles and related gear for Materiel Air Transport Command.
Warren learned the game of golf early as a 25 cent caddie and played golf throughout his life. His love of golf was fully evident in the annual Glenn T. Packard golf tournament which is dedicated to his son who passed away in 1991. The motto of the tournament is “Have fun, Be positive, Smile a lot!” which epitomized Warren and his son Glenn. Some of the many contributions from the tournament to the town are: Rotary hut at the Suffield High School soccer field, the playground at Sunrise Park, batting cages at Christian Field, and electrical lighting at Mapleton Hall.
His professional life began as an auditor in public accounting in Philadelphia. He then moved to the Hartford office in 1960 of what is now Price Waterhouse Cooper, where he was made an audit partner. He joined the corporate manufacturing realm when he joined The Wiremold Company of West Hartford, from which he retired as president in 1991.
In addition to service on various boards of directors, and his service as First Selectman from 1993 to 1995, Warren also served on the Board of Finance, the Recreation Commission, and various ad hoc committees.
Warren was always a strong supporter of charitable and community organizations. He was especially proud of being awarded the Paul Harris Award from the Suffield Rotary Club and the Hartford YWCA’s Robert C. Knox Distinguished Leader Award.
Board of Finance member, Brian Kost, had high praise for Warren Packard. He recounted his ever-friendly manner, the fact that he never missed a town meeting at which he always contributed worthy commentary. It was clear, Mr. Kost said, that Warren cared deeply about this town and that he was well respected by its townspeople.
Chris Childs also shared Warren’s ability to offer, “…such sage counsel; he was a great sounding-board. And if you disagreed with him, he would be interested in understanding that further.”
Many people commented on Warren’s wry and “folksy” sense of humor, which lightened meetings and interactions.
Blair Childs graduated from Yale University with a degree in Engineering. The Second World War was raging at this time and thus Blair spent one year as a Merchant Marine before beginning his college education. He joined the Navy ROTC while in college and became a Naval Mine Sweeper.
With his college degree in hand, Blair was offered a job at Hamilton Standard in 1958, which brought him to this area and a home in Suffield. It also brought him to meet his future wife, Carolyn Hatheway Alcorn.
While working at Hamilton Standard, Blair was asked to join the group in the Purchasing Department for the purpose of assisting in procurement of scientific needs for the company’s burgeoning involvement in the U.S. Space Program.
From the time he moved to Suffield in l964, Blair’s convictions regarding civic-mindedness were on display. Blair was soon appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission where he served for a number of years, many as Chairman. He also served on the Charter Revision Commission with one goal: to see that the P&Z Commission became an elected position. Blair next served on the Board of Finance, of which he was also made Chairman, during his years of service.
When elected Town Treasurer, Blair saw that Suffield needed a better (and more controlled) financial system. He then earmarked the salary paid to the person serving as Town Treasurer for the purchase of the town’s first computerized financial system.
Blair was a volunteer ambulance driver, a tutor for incarcerated people, and a tax preparation counselor for seniors. He was a member of the Second Baptist Church, Suffield Rotary Club, Suffield Land Conservancy, and the Suffield Historical Society. He also served as The Suffield Observer paper deliveryman since 1999, one of Sam Fuller’s first recruits!
Meanwhile, at home, Blair was always there to support his children and grandchildren in their various endeavors; teaching his family to play a variety of sports, attending their games and related events.
Blair was happiest when surrounded by his children and grandchildren. He took his extended family to Squam Lake in New Hampshire every year. His 80th birthday was celebrated with his entire family in the Galapagos Islands, and his 90th was spent together circumnavigating Iceland.
Blair’s son Chris, also a Suffield resident, has said, “My father is a man of strong convictions and is firmly dug in when it comes to protecting things he cares about, be it his family or our town.”
Both of these distinguished men will be sorely missed.