CHESHIRE — Richard Bartlem, the town’s first parks department director and the namesake for Bartlem Park, is being remembered an active member of the local community.
Bartlem died on Aug. 2 at 90 years old. He was born in Meriden in 1928 and served with the Marine Corps from 1946 to 1952, rising to the rank of sergeant.
He also attended Southern Connecticut State University and previously worked as physical education director at the Meriden YMCA.
Bartlem served as the first director of the Cheshire’s Parks and Recreation Department from 1968 to 1993.
“He was a great guy and he helped the town out tremendously,” Town Councilor Tim Slocum said.
Slocum said Bartlem set the standard for future parks department directors and public officials. He said Bartlem worked with town officials to grow the department and provide parks for the town.
“He was a very hard working, dedicated public servant,” Slocum said. “It was through his term of service that the department itself grew,”
Bartlem was also instrumental in moving plans foward for Lock 12 Historical Park and the Farmington Canal Linear Trail.
“He is a model of someone who was paid by taxpayer but you got every ounce of goodwill and service to the town,” Slocum said.
Assistant town manager Arnett Talbot said Bartlem was a well-respected man and was well-liked by members of the community. She said he was very hands-on when it came to working with the parks department.
“He did everything from running the department to mowing the lawn,” Talbot said.
The town named the Bartlem Recreation Area, a park he helped created, in is honor in the 1990s.
“He, with other officials, were very engaged and involved with making it happen,” said Slocum.
Bartlem was previously president of the Meriden Kiwanis Club and was an honorary member of the Cheshire Rotary Club. During his retirement, he enjoyed boating in Florida and traveling across the world.
He is survived by his wife Eleanor and his brother Robert.