Mary M. Bartlett

Photo of Polly BartlettPhoto of Polly Bartlett
Mary Morgan (Goodwin) "Polly" Bartlett
"Gallops off into the sunset"
August 13, 1927 to April 6, 2021
Submitted by Robert "Sam" Bartlett - Updated May 14, 2023

Friday April 2, 2021 Polly Bartlett had a great day. She walked in her woods on one of her favorite short hikes and felt strong and healthy. She came over to Pine Brook Farm where she had lived for decades, and where Sam and Marie now live. She painted a bookcase for them and was so pleased to be able to contribute to their ongoing renovations. She had an engaging (online) PT appointment that gave her confidence she would further improve her physical comfort. Polly had several plans she was eagerly looking forward to over the weekend.

While working on making dinner, Polly and Marie looked out the window at the apple trees that Polly and her husband Dave had planted many years ago. Sam and Jeannie were pruning them, and Polly was so happy and appreciative of the beautiful job they were doing. She was looking forward to sharing her enthusiasm with them when they all had dinner together.

Polly turned from the window and collapsed from a stroke. Right before dinner, just like Dave six years ago. Polly spent a few days unresponsive in hospice care at her beloved Little House, and breathed her last breath on her sunny porch, with family around her, on Tuesday April 6, 2021 (would have been Dave's 92nd birthday). She had wanted to die with her boots on, but she took her boots off when she came in the house. But she did have paint on her hands.

Buckland, MA - Mary Morgan (Goodwin) "Polly" Bartlett, 93, meandered off from this world on her final hike and joined her late husband David C. Bartlett on April 6, 2021.

To many it may seem that Polly was a lifelong fixture of the Shelburne Falls area, but her love for this place and this community didn't come from having lived here forever. Born in Philadelphia on August 13, 1927, she grew up in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, daughter of Harold and Alice "Happy" (Hapgood) Goodwin. She flourished at summer camps in South Strafford, Vermont, and then earned her BS in Animal Science at Penn State in 1949. Seeking more employable skills and a bit of adventure she earned a MS in Dairy Science at Washington State University in 1951, and she served as faculty advisor to WSU's Outing Club. She held research positions at WSU, but her advisor told her there were no jobs she could do that a man couldn't do better. Persevering, she earned a position analyzing dairy genetics and productivity at UMass in Amherst. There she met her husband David C. Bartlett where he was finishing his MS in Civil Engineering. After they married in 1957 they moved to Houlton, Maine, where they started a family. They moved to Paxton, Massachusetts, where Polly became involved in town conservation work. They moved to Pine Brook Farm in Buckland, Massachusetts in 1968. There Polly quickly became involved in community life in the village of Shelburne Falls and the Deerfield River Valley.

Polly taught Physical Education at Buckland-Shelburne-Colrain Elementary School, substitute-taught, led nature programs for the Buckland Recreation Department, and introduced countless youth to horseback riding through her leadership of 4-H. She helped form the Buckland Conservation Commission and the Deerfield River Watershed Association, where among other things she led the annual Riverfest celebration and advocated for the Mohican-Mohawk trail, including construction of the bridge over the South River named "Polly's Crossing." Polly won many awards and accolades for her community involvement. Polly loved to hike, abroad or out West but equally as much in her backyard. A widening group of local hiking friends came to call themselves the "Champagne Hikers". One of Polly's most iconic roles was at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, where she welcomed and educated guests about the local history and trolley but was best known as "Pumpcar Polly" for her rides on the hand-powered pump car.

Polly was pre-deceased by her granddaughter Amy Spencer (2001) and her husband David Bartlett (2015). She is survived by her son Robert "Sam" Bartlett (Marie) of Shelburne Falls, daughter Sarah "Sally" Spencer (Bob) of Shelburne Falls, daughter Nancy Bartlett of Albuquerque NM, grandson Jeffrey Spencer (Brenda) of Buckland, grandson Nathan Bartlett of Chicago IL, granddaughter Jeannie Bartlett of Burlington VT and great-grandson Nicholas Spencer of Buckland, and several nieces and nephews.

In honor of Polly, consider taking a hike; making some turns on the ski slopes; enjoying the spring woodland wildflowers; singing camp songs; doing yoga; growing your own vegetables (especially tomatoes); learning to identify a new tree or bird or flower; visiting the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum when it reopens and taking a ride on the pump-car; dedicating time to building community; educating youngsters or helping the environment; or baking cookies or sweet rolls as a gift for anyone you love or appreciate. Polly was a role model for extending friendship to new acquaintances, and she approached life with a sense of adventure and grace. Pictures, journal entries, and memories from all who knew her illustrate her radiant love of life. In a typical reflection, Polly journaled, "Was it [the chocolate] which didn't let me get back to sleep for two hours in the middle of the night or was it just all the other blessings I was counting that kept me awake?"

Polly was involved in many organizations locally. If you wish to make a memorial donation, please choose an organization with which you associate Polly. Three of her favorites were:

The Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, PO Box 272, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370 or online at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum here.

or the Deerfield River Watershed Association, 15 Bank Row, Suite A, Greenfield, MA 01301 (be sure to write "DRWA-Polly Bartlett" on the memo line) or online at the Deerfield River Watershed Association here.

or the Art Garden 4 Union Street, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370 or online at the Art Garden here.

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly and Eric swimming in the Deerfield River

Polly carried this quote in her wallet:
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, totally worn out and screaming... WOO HOO, What a ride!"- Kate Langdon

Polly put together this resume in 2000, some of these activities she did for years after that.

BS in Animal Science, Pennsylvania State University, 1949
MS in Dairy Science, Washington State University ,1951
30 additional credits in Education, Worcester State College, MA , 1961 - 1967

Work Experience:
Graduate Assistant Washington State University 1949 -1951
Assistant Instructor (Statistical Research) Washington State University. 1951 - 1956
Assistant Instructor (Statistical Research) University of Massachusetts, 1956- 1957
Substitute Teacher and part time Physical Education Teacher, Public Schools, Shelburne Falls, MA 1967 - 1973

Volunteer Work:
Conservation Commission, Paxton, MA 1963 - 1967
Conservation Commission, Buckland, MA 1969 - 1975
Franklin County Conservation District, 1968 - 1977
Franklin County Planning Board 1970 - 1977
Deerfield River Valley Conservation Association 1971 - 1974
Deerfield River Watershed Association 1989 - Coordinator for the Mahican - Mohawk Trail reconstruction, Hikes coordinator and leader
4-H Club leader, 1976 - 2000
National Ski Patrol, 1967 - 2000
Appalachian Mountain Club member and hike leader
Other Community and Conservation volunteer activities

Current activities
Horseback riding
Trolley Museum Volunteer
Play reading

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Celebration of Life

A celebration of Polly Bartlett's life was held at Berkshire East on April 9, 2022, just over a year after she passed. It was a beautiful spring day.

Photo of Polly Bartlett

Some friends and family started the day with a hike, and, of course, champagne toast!

Berkshire East was kind enough to host us in the Main Lodge. There were miniature daffodils and photos of Polly on the tables. Transparent collages representing aspects of Polly's life were hung in front of the windows (thanks Janice!). These collages were originally an Art Garden installation in a trolley car, lit up at night, at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.

Photo of Polly Bartlett

This is how the collages looked when installed in a trolley car at night.
The included quote is from Polly's Journals: "Was it the chocolate that kept me awake, or was it counting all my other blessings?"

Slide shows and video loops covered Polly's many interests. Berkshire East and the guests provided lots of great food. Polly would have loved this party. After the hikers returned we kicked things off with Sal, Nan, Nate and Cassidy singing one of Polly's favorite songs, The Parting Glass. They intentionally started softly, without introduction, growing in volume to get people's attention.

Here is a video of their performance and the venue at Berkshire East
The singing was followed by thoughts and memories from those in attendance. Thank you to everyone for coming to help us celebrate Polly!

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Little Miss Polly Goodwin

Polly grew up in Wyncote, Penn. Her father Harold Goodwin was an electrical engineer. Her mother was Alice Hathaway Hapgood Goodwin, an art teacher and painter, known to her friends as "Happy" (from Hapgood). Polly was the youngest, her brother Ben died testing airplanes in WWII.

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Portrait of Polly by Mary Burgess

Photo of Polly Bartlett
All four panels of a screen, (L-R) Terry, Priscilla, Ben and Polly,
painted by their mother. Early gender roles ....

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Inset of Polly from four panel screen.

Polly was always interested in outdoors activities like horse-back riding, hiking, bicycling and skiing. While at Penn State she was in the Outing Club and went on two skis trips in the Green Mountains to Bryant Cabin near Bolton Vermont in 1948 and 1949.

Photo of Polly Bartlett

Photo of Polly Bartlett

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Some entries from Polly and a friend in the Bryant Cabin Logbook from 1948 and 1949 trips.

This is out of chronological order, but in 2017 grand-daughter Jeannie and Polly revisited Bryant Cabin.

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly and Jeannie at Bryant Cabin in 2017.

Here is an audio recording of Polly and Jeannie visiting with GMC staff member Ann Gotham, exploring Bryant cabin and Polly reminiscing. It is about 40 minutes, might be of more interest to folks who are familiar with Bryant Cabin.

Here is a pdf of Polly's recollections from her 1948 and 1949 trips to Bryant Cabin and skiing on Bolton Mtn on 7' hickory skis and (real!) seal skins for climbing.

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Alaska Trip 1955
Photo of Polly Bartlett

In 1955 Polly Goodwin went on a trip to Alaska to visit some friends from College. She kept a journal with drawings, you can read it here.

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Meeting and marrying Dave Bartlett and starting a family

In 1956 Polly found research work in her field at UMass in Amherst, Mass. Here she used computers and punch cards to enter and analyze dairy genetics and productivity. She was also involved in the equestrian program at UMass. She went on a blind date with David C. Bartlett and another couple to Mike's Westview Cafe in North Amherst. Dave was finishing his MS in Civil Engineering at UMass. Polly figured a good way to see if Dave was "husband material" was to take him on camping trips with her friends and see if he fit in. Dave passed the test on a rainy backpacking trip to Kinsman Pond in New Hampshire's White Mountains, where he not only fit in but used his Boy Scout skills to start a fire when no one else could. On March 16, 1957 they were married in Hartford, Conn. Shortly after that Dave found a job as a Bridges and Buildings Engineer on the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad in Houlton, Maine. Dave moved to Houlton and Polly shortly followed. They bought a house. Here they started their family with Robert "Sam" in 1958 and Sarah "Sally" in 1959.

Polly Bartlett
Here is a slide show of photos from this time period, mostly by Dave.

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Raising a family in Paxton, Mass.

In 1960 Dave accepted a teaching position at Worcester Junior College and Polly, Dave, Sam and Sally moved to Asnebumskit Hill Road in Paxton, Mass. Nancy came along in 1961. Polly got involved with teaching Sunday School and joined the town Conservation Committee. Dave called it the "Conversation Committee" because there was a lot of talking involved. Polly also joined the ski patrol at two local rope-tow ski areas, Rutland Hill and Pine Ridge. The Worcester Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club had a cabin on the back side of Asnebumskit Hill, and the family would often hike over there or along the nearby trails. Ski trails were also cut on the side of the hill, and skiers would be driven up to the top to ski down.

Polly Bartlett
Here is a slide show of photos from this time period, mostly by Dave.

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Polly, Dave, Sam, Sally and Nancy at Pine Brook Farm, Buckland/Shelburne Falls, Mass.

In 1967 Dave took a teaching job at Greenfield Community College. In December 1967 the family bought and moved into Pine Brook Farm on the edge of the village of Shelburne Falls in Buckland, Mass. Here the family had a large garden, an old farmhouse to renovate, new friends to make, hiking and skiing, and room for horses. Polly accepted Dave's request that she not get involved in town politics right away, but then the Buckland Selectmen decided to reroute Conway St right through the "Cricket Field", a ball field in the village. Polly started the Buckland Conservation Commission to add some balance to the "development at all costs" mindset of the selectmen. When she commented to a local friend that she was meeting some resistance in her efforts, she was told "Polly, the valley is narrow and so are the minds of its residents". At this time she also started the Deerfield River Watershed Alliance (more on the DRWA below) to stop an Army Corp of Engineers dam proposal on the Deerfield River. She left the Conservation Commission after receiving an unsigned letter that said "You ought to mind your own business. Your barn would make nice kindling."

Polly joined the Thunder Mountain (later Berkshire East) Ski Patrol. At one point the entire family was on the patrol, and everyone made many good friends while skiing. Every summer the family would travel to Moose Campground in North Conway New Hampshire for a week or two of hiking and swimming and relaxing. Polly had always had a love of horses, and soon Eric and then Toddy were living in the barn at Pine Brook Farm. When they died she got Civian. With these horses she started a 4-H club to teach local children about horse care and horse-back riding. Sam, Sally and Nancy graduated from next-door Mohawk Trail Regional High School and went off to college, and Polly and Dave were "empty nesters", occasionally welcoming one child or the other back for a while as they navigated adulthood. Polly and Dave started a hiking group that came to be known as the "Champagne Hikers" (more on them below). Polly and Dave lived at Pine Brook Farm until Dave's death in 2015. Polly moved to "The Little House" on Sal's property in 2017 and sold the farm to Sam and Marie.

Polly spent a lot of time in the kitchen, feeding five family members plus frequent guests. Here is a list of the titles of all the recipes in her recipe box (thanks Jeannie!). You might want to listen to this song ("Canned Goods" by Greg Brown on YouTube) about canning garden surplus while you peruse the recipe list. Polly put a lot of "summer in jars".

Polly Bartlett
Here is a slide show of photos from this time period, mostly by Dave.

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A selection of Polly's Journals

Polly kept a journal for many years. An early example is found at the Alaska link above. In 2004 she started keeping it on her computer. At some point she started emailing it weekly to family members. Jeannie has selected representative entries from the 2004-2021 era here. We have, for the most part, not corrected spelling and punctuation, as Polly was somewhat informal in her journaling.

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Deerfield River Watershed Association
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly at the dedication site of "Polly's Crossing"
Polly was part of the group who in the early 1990's stopped the Army Corp of Engineers from building a 260-foot dam across the Deerfield River at Stillwater in Deerfield which when filled would have backed water up to Shelburne Falls. It was to protect East Hartford from flooding. This group was able to "out engineer" the Corp by proving that the Deerfield River crested before the Connecticut river, so was not the cause of downstream flooding. Out of that issue, the DRWA was formed in 1994 as a group representing the Deerfield River for relicensing the power dams on the river. Polly was a founder and has been a member ever since. Her main interests with the DRWA had been the Mohican-Mohawk foot trail from Shelburne Falls to Deerfield. She was instrumental in getting the power company along with other donations raised, to build the present popular walking bridge across the South River in Conway, known as "Polly's Crossing". In recent years Polly mentioned several times how happy she was with the energy and enthusiasm of the DRWA board. You can learn more about the
Deerfield River Watershed Association here.

Rob Douglas, who never met Polly, wrote this song after he visited Polly's Crossing with his family.

Here is a compilation of responses to Polly's passing from her friends in the Deerfield River Watershed Association:

I am so sorry to hear of Polly's passing. What a tragedy, but what an amazing life she led too. I am going to greatly miss her, our hikes & discussions together, and her time on the Deerfield River Watershed Association Board. I will always remember her enthusiasm for hiking to see the lady slippers in bloom. I do like the idea floated by the Champagne Hikers of a memorial hike to Polly's Bridge.
Jim, Margaret, Melanie P

Dear Jeannie, I am very sorry for your loss and frankly a loss for Polly's whole community. You are very, very lucky to have had a grandmother as wonderful, inspiring and energetic as Polly. Most of all I will miss Polly's frank, no-nonsense, but kind assessment of any contentious issue that came before DRWA.
Brian Y

I remember sitting in her kitchen discussing DRWA walks and activities, along with outings, meetings, etc. She was an incredibly active and community-minded person, and her enthusiasm was contagious.
Pat S

Polly was real inspiration to all of us at Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited. Her advocacy and long record of conservation throughout the Deerfield watershed is an example we hope to continue. Polly's life was a great example of stewardship of our precious natural resources. We will always hold her memory in our hearts!
Michael V

Thanks for letting us know. I had not heard. I shouldn’t be surprised to hear the news, given her age, but I guess I similarly thought she would “never” die. I am glad to have spoken with her when she came to the tree planting event in Colrain in late October. But in an ordinary year, I would have seen her over the winter at Buckland library soup nights. This is very sad.
Andrea D

Polly Bartlett
Indefatigable advocate for the environment and for protecting the beauty and culture of our area.
Irrepressible enthusiasm.
Motherly concern for other’s safety, well-being, and personal enjoyment.
Model of self-confidence and humility.
Polly leaves a wonderful family and a broad and memorable legacy of involvements and accomplishments during her life. Creation, maintenance and protection of the Mohican-Mohawk Trail, Polly’s Crossing bridge over the South River, stopping the Deerfield River Dam number 1 which would have created a lake covering the valley from Deerfield to Shelburne Falls, creating the Riverfest event in Shelburne Falls to educate people about our natural environment, creation of the Deerfield River Watershed Association, the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, protection from development of the hillside field across from Mohawk Trail Regional High School, creator of the Champagne Hikers group originally with fellow Thunder Mountain Ski Patrol members. And these are but a few.
Her loss to our region is immeasurable. Demonstrating and inspiring leadership qualities in us all, she would tell us now that it is up to us to carry on with her initiatives.
Art S

I am so very sorry to hear we have lost Polly. She was a wonderful, intelligent, compassionate human being who loved the outdoors and even rode horseback until quite recently. I can only hope to be the concerned involved person she was for her entire life. I had the pleasure of sitting on the board with Polly. She was an amazing woman! I am also involved with Trout Unlimited, and we were able to award her our [Bob Anderson] Conservation Award last year.
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Sheila K

She was a wonderful, intelligent, compassionate human being who loved the outdoors and even rode horseback until quite recently. I can only hope to be the concerned involved person she was for her entire life.
Terry A

I am so sorry and shocked to hear this news. Polly was such a sweet and wise lady, an important part of DRWA, and will definitely be so missed.
Chris C

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Champagne Hikers Group

Photo of Polly Bartlett
A classic "Pop at the Top"
Photo of Polly Bartlett
A cold hike to High Ledges (Jim Perry photo)
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly leads the way at the Hawley Bog (Jim Perry photo)
Photo of Polly Bartlett
A GPS-fueled "Board of Directors Meeting" (Jim Perry photo)
Photo of Polly Bartlett
No, Polly hasn't fallen and she isn't napping.
She's demonstrating how to roll down the hill across from her farm at the end of a hike....(Art Schwenger photo)

Here is the Story of the Champagne Hikers Origins (as told by Margaret Freemen) and a compilation (by Tiger Waterman) of hikes that Polly led, was on, or was mentioned in (see Vol 6 #1 "We did wonder why the skiers had not obeyed Polly's injunctions to keep together and wait at junctions"). If you only want to read one classic Polly-led trip, search for Vol 5 #40, a Halloween hike that Polly led.

Reading these reports is not as much fun as going on a hike, but it does give you the idea of the fun and comradery that the group has had over the years. Note: "BOD" or "BODM" is CH-speak for a Board of Directors meeting, e.g. a group discussion on which trail to take, etc. along the hike. Grab a bottle of champagne and settle in.

Polly Bartlett
Here is a slide show of posters that Tiger made for the Champagne Hikes that Polly led.

Email Tributes to Polly Bartlett
from the Champagne hikers

Bari and Ted send best wishes to all the Champagne Hikers as we remember our founder and friend Polly Bartlett. We responded to a local ad for an Appalachian Trail Hike in January of 1993. It was led by Polly. Her redheaded son Sam was there too. We hiked up on skis and snowshoes to McCloud Pond in the Catamount. Polly got far ahead of us all. We learned her nickname then, Mrs. Donner. She ate the others up in terms of speed and stamina. We recall her far ahead on the frozen water of the pond. Some of you know Deb Oeky, who was there that day too. When the hike was over, Polly invited us to be part of a small hiking group, then unnamed, that met every Wednesday. It was an invitation just for us, as most of the hikers that Saturday were young working people. Polly herself worked on the ski patrol at Berkshire East, then and for about another 15 years till she was 78. Our earliest hikers included Ted and Lisa Merrill, Jack Blood, Hattie Ball, George Rapp and Deb Oeky. Polly knew the trails because she had explored them on her beloved horse. George gave us our name, Champagne Hikers. Hank and Margaret Eggert joined us and their daughter got us our insignia on our tee shirts and sweat shirts. Polly was our inspiration, and a dedicated leader. She will be missed mightily!
Polly was an original. Nobody could be all she was and do all she did! We love to admired her for almost 30 years, and we're so glad to have shared so many great times with her!
Bari and Ted J

When Polly called this winter we had such a great conversation filled with smiles and appreciation for our shared hiking, skiing and fun dinners! That warmth is now extended to her lovely family!
Pam and Mike T

Polly was an inspiration to all of the Champagne Hikers and the many skiers who knew her, too. Yes, the “Polly Miles” were especially long when we set out on the “Champagne Loop” after lunch. We are all so grateful that she started this hiking group and led us up and down so many wonderful trails.
Emma S

Polly welcomed us when we moved to Buckland, introduced us to the Champagne Hikers, and introduced me to snowshoeing through the Purple Forest and the Buckland Rec. Snowshoeing clumsily, I might add — it took a while to catch up with her! Norman, who worked for the Boston & Maine before retiring, became close to Dave, for both shared a love of anything on metal wheels.
It delighted us that Pine Brook Farm remained in the family after Dave’s death and that Polly had a wonderful “new” family home in which to enjoy her remaining years.
Perhaps the best way for us to honor her memory is to do an annual hike in her name… with extra champagne at the end. I’d suggest the Polly’s Crossing hike, except that all the beautiful places mattered so much to her that picking a favorite of hers might be nigh unto impossible.
Dale M

Walking through our North field recently, I thought of Polly delicately instructing us in the proper etiquette of crossing a hay field. She introduced us to the winter wonderland that is the Purple Forest, to snowshoeing, and to the Champagne Hikers. Not to mention a few memorable bushwacking hikes off Bray Road or crossing Johnson Hill. Polly took us under her capable wings and introduced us to all that is wonderful in Buckland. Her "walk with me" Christmas card was a poignant reminder of what we've lost this past year. It will always be a source of regret for us that we weren't able to take her up on that.
Dale M and Norman C

I met Polly about 20 years ago on a Deerfield River watershed hike. She introduced us the Champagne Hikers and she became our friend, hiking companion and role model. We enjoyed every moment we were around her. I have to admit though, that it took me a while to figure out what a BODM was! (“Board of Directors Meeting”. When we needed to discuss our trail decisions.)
Ed S

I am deeply moved by all praise for this inspiring woman who I barely knew. Certainly, I missed out but I did hike with her a few times and I’m truly amazed at what I hear of her list of accomplishments. Clearly, we were on the same path but different timeline. I may meet her over the horizon.
Rest In Peace Polly.
Peter B

Polly was indeed a guiding star. I will never forget the “Polly miles” and her fortitude to forge ahead. Thank you, Polly, for all you did.
With deep gratitude,
Jenna H

Polly was a monumental inspiration. We will be forever in her debt.
David L

As you will hear from so many people, your mom was an example for me of a life well lived. She was a role model. Independent, sharp, athletic. I didn't see her crossing many things off her life list of things she could do (as I, sadly, at 60 am already doing, including skiing!)
I didn't start crossing paths much with Polly until about 2010. Greenfield Drama Club, the hikers, other theater. I always loved to hear what she had to say, whether I agreed with it or not.
In some other life, I hope to be as able at as wide a circle of activities as she was. She exemplifies to me a classic New Englander -- capable, practical, positive, family-oriented. I thoroughly enjoyed having her in my life. And am very sad that she has departed.
Hugs to all of you,
Jackie W

Ohhh no, my role model Polly, I'm so sad to read this. Last time I communicated with her, in this past year, she told me how we should walk together when covid was over.
This beautiful spring morning has just lost a bit of its lustre but Polly is shining so brightly in our hearts as we try to deal with this sad and hard to believe news. She is the true spirit of the Champagne Hikers and we will always look to her as we walk the lovely woodsy trails she loved. She introduced us to many of her favorites. I will forever think of her encouraging us to roll down a steep hill at the end of one of her hikes. She led the way and many of us joined her in this joyous childhood rite. She was ageless although when she and I walked through the Hawley Bog last fall I sensed a winding down in all but her energetic joy over each plant, shrub, bird, and sunbeam.
There is a bridge crossing the Deerfield River named in her honor for all she did promoting healthy watersheds in the Shelburne area. How sweet it would be to gather there some day and sing out to her. She claimed the Catamounts were her favorite......
Eileen W

Definitely a good idea to organize a hike to Polly's bridge when conditions allow. She fought to have that bridge built for so long, it's a perfect tribute for her.
Marie-Francoise H

Polly popped up in my research on fixing the Wilcox Hollow access road from back in the early aughties trying to establish a recreational area. I'm inspired to continue her crusade. I was further inspired after we spoke together of it in the late fall. "May flights of angels...."
Alan H

Thank you, Polly, for your steady leadership and example. You will be missed and remembered.
William T

We are very sad to read this news of Polly. She is most definitely a model and beacon for us—her stamina, her spirit, the joy she took in life, her commitment and active participation for what she believed in, her beautiful smile, the amazing perspective on the history of our area afforded by her long life and many interests, the list is long.
We have felt comforted by this beautiful string of loving messages.
We are looking forward to seeing you all again. Polly will always be along with us.
Love, Kate & Tom

Polly has been a role model for me too. I hope I can hike as long as she has. You will be missed Polly but your legacy will live on. I’m indebted to you for helping to start the hiking group and sustaining it all these years.
Don G

Peter and I have known Polly for many years and in addition to trying to keep up with her on hikes, still treasure the train trip we took together with her and Dave from Albany to Albuquerque! She was very special both on and off the trail.
So, we join all of you who grieve at her passing but rejoice in having known her.
Susan P

Polly is my hero and role model!!!
I will never forget hiking up a hill with her. We were quite a ways ahead of the rest of the group, trudging uphill, occasionally chatting about nonsensical things. All the while I was wondering when she would finally slow down a bit so that I could catch my breath. I was very well aware of how senior she was to me in age and completely blown away by her stamina.
Rest in peace, dear Polly, rest in peace!
Be well, be in peace,
Diane J

Polly was truly amazing. I was introduced to her, when she had basically retired from hiking with the group. She inspired me with her radiant smile and gentle manner. I am so grateful to have shared a trail with her. She will be deeply missed.
Eric W

Such sad news to receive in this early morning. Let's hope we can all have the same vibrance, resiliency, and zest for life as she did. A very great lady who will be missed even more once we all hike together again.
Carolyn and Dave

Polly led and inspired this fabulous group that has enriched my life so unexpectedly. Her death is a shock. Her life is a beacon. I am forever grateful.
Andy B

Such sad news.
Although relatively new to our Champagne Hikers and not having the opportunity to hike frequently with Polly, it was obvious how integral she was to our group. And the handful of times she was in my presence, Polly was gracious and welcoming, talkative and smiling, cheerful and warm.
Very sad news indeed.

She was a special person. Several years ago she took me hiking behind the Lamson Goodnow factory to see the structures someone had built down in the woods below the buildings, nearer to the river. All kinds of things made from tree branches and stones - totally amazing. She was in her 90s then and I could just about keep up with her. She lived a full and rich life. I am blessed to have known her.
Rita J

I always thought of Polly as indestructible. Alas, it was not so. But she showed more pluck and determination and independence than nearly anyone else. She forged a path for all of us, and we are so much weakened by her absence.
Gabriela H

You won't find a space large enough for those Polly had affected and influenced during her life unless you send us all into outer space. My sadness at never seeing her again in this life is compensated by the many memorable and happy times I spent in her company. She was "a choice spirit!"
Margaret F

So sorry to lose such a great lady. She was an inspiration to us all. Last saw her skiing Berkshire East before the pandemic. Will never forget the hikes she led. She will always be in our hearts.
Rick and Sue G

I am very saddened by her passing. She was truly an unforgettable woman.
Marilyn C

First I lost my wife of 55 years, then the 2d best woman in my life goes too. Were it not for the rain, I would be out hiking, or meandering, with Polly these days, something that I had been doing for the past 20 plus years. And I would be looking forward to skiing with her again for the 23d year. The lady was 10 years my senior, but could still could keep me in her rear view mirror. She was a significant part of my life and I miss her.
Hank E

Polly was wearing her Champagne Hikers tee-shirt when she took her last breath.

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Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly giving a "cooperative experience" to guests at SFTM

Dave was one of the founders of SFTM, and Sam became president in 2000. Once Polly realized that she could volunteer to operate the pumpcar for the guests, she was a regular fixture at SFTM. She also volunteered as a conductor on the trolley car, telling the history of trolley No. 10, the Bridge of Flowers and the trolley line to Colrain.

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly worked behind the scenes as well

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly liked reenacting for Trolleyfest, riding on the trolley as a character from the 1910's

Messages from Polly's friends at Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum
and the Art Garden

Everyone also expressed their condolences to the family, but I've edited that out for brevity.

We read with tears the passing of Polly. We had great admiration for one of the nicest ladies we have met in our lifetimes. She will be missed by many and long remembered.
Dave and Molly

Polly was very special lady who touched many lives. We feel honored to have known her and she will be missed next time we are at the trolley museum.
Kari and Carl

I remarked how Polly was kind of the Mom of the museum, telling Rowan to tuck his shirt in, telling me my shoes were falling apart, and would I take my smelly old pipe out of the crew room. She did that without offending people, too.
I will miss seeing her around the museum.

Speechless, I am beyond sorry to learn of this. Always liked working, talking, helping her at the museum.

I am so glad to have Polly as part of my life and to share her friendship. There will always be a warm place in my heart with her in it. Thanks very much for sharing some of her last time with your family. It was good to hear but sad.

I am so sorry to hear about Polly. She was one of a kind. She envisioned the best of the Trolley Museum and taught us all the value of being young at heart. She will be immensely missed.
Gary D

I appreciate her style in life and the way she left it. We'll all miss her.
Dick M

Your mom was one of the most amazing persons that I have ever had the pleasure to know. Her appreciation for family, volunteering, nature, hard work (too many to name in an email) as well as her full involvement in the community is an example that will remain with us all forever.
Betsy and Bill

I am sorry for her passing, she was a strong and remarkable woman who will be sorely missed. I'm glad you all were with her right through the end. I am particularly heartened that she was able to pass at home on her sunny porch, I wish we could all have that at our end. I'll be holding her in my thoughts.

Polly was certainly an inspiration and friend to all of us. She had a way about telling you when she didn't like something, but in the next breath she would compliment you which left you feeling good-very tactful. In the few years I've been around the museum, I have acquired many fond memories of Polly. Every time I think about our policy going forward of re-opening, it always ended with the thought of how could I vote to open and possibly expose our volunteers to the pandemic, especially "Miss Polly" as I always referred to her.

Oh .... my eyes are brimming with tears......
my love to ALL
A wonderful life... and a smooth glide into her next life.. she is a classy lady.
Be proud of that.

OH! I will miss her sooo much! She was such a LIGHT! so full of life and energy and 'spit'.
She reminded me that aging doesn't mean you need to stop living fully.
She spoke her mind and demanded honest and authentic responses.
She gave soooo much to our community and to the Art Garden specifically!

Polly was bigger than life and I had no doubt, knowing her to be as strong willed as she was, that she would be able to conquer this like it was a minor mogul.
Polly never waivered or napped on her way through her 90s. She was a wonder woman from start to finish.
Tony and Nancy

She was so much a part of the landscape of Shelburne Falls and especially the Trolley Museum which also meant that her care extended to the Art Garden. Her cheerfulness was always a welcome presence. We will miss her and remember her spirit as we go about our work

I am so sad to hear this. She was an inspiration to me and to so many others.
I wish you peace as you go through the grieving process. She loved you all so much and was very proud of you.
I will bring flowers to the Museum when it is open again in honor of both Polly and Dave.
I am grateful to have gotten to know her at the Museum.

We expect all the trolley family is feeling stunned by this news. Although board meetings have been held virtually and work crews have met, the opportunity to see Polly interacting with families of all ages was definitely missing. What a fantastic ride she had!
Thank you for sharing her final goodbye with us.
James and Diantha

We are so sad to read this. Polly was such a treasure, our now 10 year old loves seeing her on our annual visit to the museum. One visit my daughter was struggling to tie her hiking shoe and Polly took the time to show her a tying trick, to this day we still call them Polly Knots. She was a wonderful lady and will be so missed. We are grateful to have known her and will keep her in our prayers.

Polly was a big part of our early years as a family and we will always remember her incredible energy and enthusiasm for life.
Yoav, Emily and Asher

I just spoke with her last week in Keystone and she looked great! I was always super impressed with her spark for life! We had actually spoken about the Art Garden that day. She was an inspiration for sure,esp. in my work with her on RiverFest committee where she went door to door asking for sponsors...and worked all year long to plan for a meaningful event to help the River...and build community.

Polly was bigger than life and I had no doubt, knowing her to be as strong willed as she was, that she would be able to conquer this like it was a minor mogul. Polly never waivered or napped on her way through her 90s. She was a wonder woman from start to finish.
Tony and Nancy

Aw, what a shame, but what a life well lived! Sad to hear of her leaving us. I remember Polly and Dave welcoming our family when the boys were little to the Trolley Museum with love and enthusiasm.
Kate L

We expect all the trolley family is feeling stunned by this news. Although board meetings have been held virtually and work crews have met, the opportunity to see Polly interacting with families of all ages was definitely missing. What a fantastic ride she had!
James and Diantha

She was so much a part of the landscape of Shelburne Falls and especially the Trolley Museum which also meant that her care extended to the Art Garden. Her cheerfulness was always a welcome presence. We will miss her and remember her spirit as we go about our work.
John H

She was an inspiration to me and to so many others. I wish you peace as you go through the grieving process. She loved you all so much and was very proud of you. I will bring flowers to the Museum when it is open again in honor of both Polly and Dave. I am grateful to have gotten to know her at the Museum.
Sarah N

It seems that every day I walk into the museum, I'm always waiting to see Polly pull in and go get the pump car out of the shed. "Any minute now' she'll be here!" There's no question that she was an integral part of the museum, and it was hard not to be touched by the enthusiasm she seemed to have an endless supply of. She knew how to entertain children and adults alike, and if you ever went to the museum, "Pump Car Polly" was a name you'd soon be familiar with. It's sad beyond comprehension to think that she's not going to give anymore of those pump car rides that made her so famous at our museum- perhaps that's why it's hard to not keep subconsciously waiting for her to arrive for her next trick on the pump car. I'm also glad that she never had a decline in health to stop her from doing the things she loved. I can't imagine Polly being happy with that! Sudden as it was, I take a small bit of comfort in knowing that even right up at the end, she never had to suffer the sadness of being incapable of living her life to the fullest. I'll continue to miss Polly terribly. I don't think I ever met a woman her age who had done anything quite like what Polly achieved with her remarkable life. Thank you, Polly!
Ellie F

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Community Involvement
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Lucky Horse Lovers 4H Club in the Fourth of July Parade

Polly was very active in her community of Shelburne Falls, as is evidenced by her involvement with DRWA and SFTM shown elsewhere here. She also led the Lucky Horse Lovers 4H club, organized Riverfest for many years, organized a water stop for the Bridge of Flowers 10K Road Race, was in Drama Club, Shelburne Falls Women's Club and the Shelburne Falls Senior Center.

Here is a YouTube video of Polly reading "A Visit From St. Nicholas" in 2012 for the Senior Center. Thank you Stacy!

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The Little House Years

A somewhat random collection of memorabilia from the years after Dave passed:
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Marie made this calendar for Polly each year, a collage of her "Little House on the Driveway" at Sal and Bob's.

When Dave passed in 2015, Polly decided that she wanted to live in a smaller house. Sally and Bob offered to fix up a small house on their property half way up their driveway, a few miles down the road. This came to be called the "Little House on the Driveway", and Polly moved there in 2017. Meanwhile, she put "The Farm" (44 Ashfield Road) on the market,

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Pine Brook Farm for Sale
and eventually Sam and Marie decided that they wanted to "buy The Farm" (an expression that Polly disliked). Sam and Marie moved in in 2020, with plenty of work still to do. We hope that friends of Polly's will continue to drop in to say "Hi".

Polly continued to ski and hike and ride her bike. For several years (until COVID shut it down for 2020 and 2021) she was part of the "Pine Brook Farmers" Bartlett family team for the Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon. Jeannie would run, and sometimes kayak. Sam would bike. Sally or Nate would do the obstacle course. Marie would sometimes kayak and then skin up (using special equipment to climb a ski slope on skis) up Berkshire East and Polly would ski down the slalom course. In 2017 she won the "Most Inspiring Athlete Award" at the pentathlon.

Here are some movies and pictures of Polly in action at the pentathlon and other ski trips and bike trips.

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly finishing the skiing leg of the Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon at Berkshire East, 2018.
Her bib number was also her age that year (Nate picture)

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Marie took this entry from Polly's journal and formatted it as a poem on an appropriate background

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly had a life-long love of horses. Here she is with Sal's Breezy (Phil G photo)

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly was also fond of cross-country skiing, especially on her beloved Pine Brook trails.

The videos below were all taken when Polly was 89. They seem to play better on Chrome than Firefox.

Here is a short clip of Polly at 89 skiing at Berkshire East with her great-grandson. (Sally video)

Here is a short clip of Polly at 89 skiing along her beloved Pine Brook. (Nan video)

Here is a short clip of Polly at 89 showing her rolling start to mount a bicycle. (Marie video)

Here is a short clip of Polly at 89 biking in Albuquerque with Jeannie and Nan. (Nan video)

Here is a short clip of Polly at 89 swinging with Jeannie in Albuquerque. (Nan video)

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly still found ways to ride horseback in her final year (Marie photo)

Photo of Polly Bartlett
She also helped Sam and Marie with painting, yard work and other renovation work at Pine Brook Farm (Marie photo)

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Friends and Family

Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly had innovative ways of spending time with friends

Messages from Polly's extended family, her friends and friends of her family
Everyone also expressed their condolences to the family, but I've edited that out for brevity. If people were mainly connected to Polly through
Champagne Hikers, Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum or Deerfield Valley Watershed Association, then their messages are in those sections.

I had just recently returned the book she loaned me almost 3 years ago I am so fortunate I got to speak to her on the phone (lots of joking and laughter). In the books I had enclosed a photo of my 10-year-old granddaughter riding a rather large horse. Polly so graciously sent her a wonderful letter about her how good she looked. As you all know she will be missed by so many people.
Claire C

I didn't know her personally but there was never any question she was a well-established elder of Shelburne Falls and when she was around... well... it was almost like having our own Queen Elizabeth, though a smile and nod rather than a curtsy was required! It must feel as though a large familiar old tree has come down and now there's this gap in the landscape.
Claire B

It is really, really hard for me to imagine the vibrant, spirited Polly in that state even though both of you have noted her decline, ever so subtly and respectfully the last times I've seen you. My heart is breaking for you though.
Please tell Polly how very much she is loved by so many of us who wish that we had it in us to be just like her. The world does indeed need more Pollys. But your Polly is so completely one of a kind, inimitable. How lucky for you that she has passed on some part of her so joyful joie de vivre to you and to your strong, smart, capable and caring children.
Patricia D

Polly opened the door for me, she made my life so much richer, she introduced me to so many people when I moved here.
What a joy it was for me to become her friend soon after moving to Buckland. Finding a kindred spirit opened up a whole new life for me here - getting to know her and her friends and exploring the trails she knew so well. It leaves a big hole in my heart.
Mona R

Rich and I thought you might like to know that the neighborhood Saturday evening Zoom was devoted largely to acknowledging this poignant time for you and your family, and to sharing stories of your mom. In no particular order, these are some of the moments, accomplishments, skills and characteristics of Polly that were mentioned:
* impressive yoga poses witnessed by classmates in Shelburne Falls studio
* her eschewing the straddle-and-push start in favor of her life-long running mount of a bike
* a ski-patrol member until age 78
* annual trips to New Mexico to ski with Nan
* she started Buckland's Conservation Commission, where she fiercely expressed controversial and spot-on analysis
* her relatively recent award from Trout Unlimited, and the impressive list of environmental accomplishments, many pertaining to the Deerfield River, that was read at the ceremony
* She saved Cricket Field!
* the bridge at "Polly's Crossing"
* her love of the game of bridge, recently played with friends in the library club
* The fabulous Champagne Hikers group (and all the folks younger than she that couldn't keep up)
* giving 4-H riding lessons at Pine Brook Farm for many years
* the equestrian trips to New Zealand with her daughters
* many summers full of adventures with 3 kids at Moose Camp in the White Mountains
* her beautiful singing, with family, at Dave's celebration Our thoughts are with all of you.
Liz, Rich and the "Upper Buckland Neighbors Zoom Cocktail Hour"

As I stood looking out over the lake this beautiful blue bird morning, a smile crept onto my face as I think about the great times with Polly...she said recently, don't call me Aunt Polly!:) Our heavy hearts are with you during your tough time and hope that things go as well as they can. Please hi to her for me and please say good bye to her for me. Polly was a big part of your life, living so close, so active and the things you love like trains and my heavens you live in her house. Polly was our inspiration - we want to be just like her.
Marilyn and Fred G

Well, she is in the big sky now with her best guy, Dave. We will miss her. She was a class act.
Phil and Char G

I have the now restored painting of Polly right above my piano in the plant room which I pass multiple times a day and spend time quietly with as I wait for our dog to come back through the door.
Polly has always been an inspiration to me my entire life.
Polly always was able to shed a positive light on any situation. She loved life in all its forms and configurations. And she loved all forms. Her smile lit up the room or where ever you were with her. When we visited Pine Brook Farm we were always excited to have Polly and Dave's garden goodness, fresh dairy and fresh bread and tea cakes. Everything was home-made and home-cooked. Much of my bread-making skills I learned from Polly. And shucking and freezing pounds of corn... and green beans. Hiking etiquette was ingrained in me at an early age by Polly on the trail. I had the tendency to be a bit slow speed wise - and she would rotate the last to the first in trail position (I liked that!) and we took breaks! When Dot and I visited your Dad and Mom at the Trolley Museum, they closed up shop for the day and Dave said "Polly, let's all go eat at our favorite restaurant." So we all went and ate at the little place in Shelburne Falls. On our way home Dot and I discussed the fact that we couldn't remember Polly or Dave going out to eat ever. It was really sweet to see them enjoying themselves. And Polly - the handcart pumping, I don't think I ever knew anybody else her age with the stamina and the power she had.
Polly was the foundation of community action and friendship. This seems to be harder to find nowadays. Her personality was "community minded" all the time. Whether it be her own family community or the local community. With people moving all the time now, this is not easily replicated. But her zest for life (much like Gran's only in a different direction), will be remembered in story and written word (again, thank you so much for doing all of the writing and photo gathering - WOW!). Personally - I can attribute much of my life and career to things I learned from Polly. Thirty years in the National Park Service, in wild and remote areas, dealing with strange people, wildlife and weather and you name it - well, when I've been in a tight spot - I might have said a couple of times to myself "What would Aunt Polly do?" And the answer usually worked ...... but again, when I make the Swedish Tea Ring that she taught me to make, people always ask me "Who taught you how to make this?" "My Aunt Polly did" is my answer. I always think they are expecting me to say I went to some pastry chef school. Another similarity between Polly and Gran is their ability to turn themselves upside down whether it be in a yoga position or doing somersaults ........this is not only a learned skill but a trait that they both have in common.
Alice S

Polly was such a dynamic woman, so strong right up to the end. Jane and I are sorry to hear of Polly's passing. What a wonderful life she had with you and all her activities. This was a sudden but a merciful (?) way to go, but certainly was not expected. It is difficult to see the last of our parents' generation leaving us and now we must enter our golden years without them. We commend you for the love and support you gave to Polly and Dave, and their remarkable ability to maintain such interesting lives. I owed Polly a picture of Gran's folding screen with her four kids, which she had preserved for many years. We have it mounted on the wall of our guest bedroom.
Ben and Jane S

Polly was a force and may her light live on in you. She holds a special place in our hearts.
Frank, Cathy, Camille and Samantha M

I remember my visits to her as a girl when she let me help with, and sometimes ride, Toddy and Eric. I remember walks in the woods with Polly asking challenging questions about what we saw. Although I saw and spoke with her infrequently, she was always a presence, especially after I had the fortune to be added to her weekly journal mailing. I feel so fortunate for the time I spent with her.
Denise M

We always liked going to visit your family and seeing the house and gardens when we were kids. Sounds like she was enjoying life until the end so she definitely did it right and will be missed by many.
Steve G

Thank you so much for sharing news of the sad departure of dear Polly. It is with sadness and a broken heart that I write back to you to let you know that we are thinking about you and the rest of the family in a very special way.
Liz and I were just considering a possible trip to North Adams with the hope of, once again, passing through Buckland to visit Polly. Our last visit to her was one of the best visits I have ever had. I am happy we stopped by to talk to Polly for a while. Polly was the best hostess. She made us some tea, served us some lovely cookies, and together, we went back in time, reliving the funny stories that brought us together, and recalling names like Margaret Patch and Rommel. Of course we talked about the horses, bringing them back through their names. We shared photos of our honeymoon, which was spent with Polly and Margaret, and how Polly took us on our first horse rides along mountain trails etc.
Towards the end of the visit, there was a silence that happened as we seemed to individually reflect on details of our story sharing. When we all realized, at the same time, how quiet it was, we laughed, looked out of the windows, and there was snow gently falling..... gently and suddenly too. "Isn't that beautiful?" Polly mused. We all agreed and sat in silence again for a while. It was such a blessing of a moment that we could share together with Polly. That was peace I may not be able to articulate for anyone. It is that kind of peace I hope Polly experienced towards the end of a well-lived and full life.
As someone who has also gone through some losses, I know how hard these times will be for you. As you know, for a while it may seem like you have woken up to a world without its sky. But the sky will reappear in many other forms in honor of Polly. There is "a hole" left in all who knew her, and I think she would like all of us to be patient with the pain of her loss, and relearn the world in another way- see her everywhere, and in everything, with a sense of comfort and peace. I think Polly would like us to give our love, like the snowflakes that lightly settled on the earth on our visit, to all without thought or reason so that we will walk to a place of light and growth in her name.
Your parents were such wonderful examples for our marriage, and so I hope they are together in some place beyond our understanding, holding hands and looking down on all of us with smiles and benevolence. I cannot think of your father without thinking of trains. I cannot think of Polly without imagining the beauty, grace and resilience of horses. I can, however, think of this place where horses run alongside fast moving trains until hoofs and wheels sing in harmony - until together, they are one with the wind and rain.
Tete K

We all have fond memories of your Mom and your Dad. One of my cousins put it best, at least in my mind, when her dad died decades ago: She said there will always be a hole (as you wrote). The hole never goes away. You just learn to live with the hole. We all have holes...some are larger than others.
Bert and Cyndy

What a life well lived! A true treasure who has left behind quite the legacy. My sympathy to you all.

Polly sure was a powerful woman who lived passionately. She inspired so many folks from so many different backgrounds. She truly was a treasure among us. Our lives were enriched by her skills, wisdom, passion, and compassion. Rest peacefully, Polly
Theresa R

I first met Polly through my work at the Franklin Land Trust and at the yoga studio. What a force of, and for, nature! Though ours was a casual acquaintance, her commitments to family, community, and the environment inspired me. I suspect I'm one of many who in some small way will carry a piece of her legacy to help make our world a safer, cleaner, better place. May you be comforted by your memories and in the knowledge that Polly's long and productive life was a gift and an inspiration to so many.
Martha T

We can only imagine how you will miss an interesting, vibrant woman like your mom. But what a life she lived. Your mom's obituary was beautifully written. How did Polly fit all she did, all she lived, into one lifetime? Even a lifetime of 93 years. She was a legend in our area - a rockstar, and, as her obituary said, a role model, always active and participating fully in life. Your mom must have been happy to see that her love of adventure was carried on throughout her family. What a gift she gave you all. It must be comforting to know that Polly's memory will live on in the lives of the many people she inspired.
Jerry and Julie

Sorry for your loss. Polly meant a lot to me. When I first moved to Massachusetts, she took me under her wing and introduced me to new people and places. It was a difficult time in my life, full of change, but she helped me bushwack my way through it.
Melanie P

Polly was a force to be reckoned with and enjoyed life "her way"!! We are so glad we were able to join her on the trail, as "Pump Car Polly", and at dinner on the farm. What a lady!
Al, Helen, Danya

My last memory of her is instructing the kids and me on how to propel the pump car at the trolley museum. Doing that at her age - she was a real star! In addition to her being a spirited volunteer at the trolley museum, I could sense that she loved where she lived - where she could hike, ride horses, ski, garden and enjoy New England's changing seasons with her family - most of whom were right nearby.
Bob E

I was very fortunate to have known her on (just a few) hikes with the Champagne Hikers, the few is my regret, as I read all the warm and loving memories from hikers who knew her for many years and miles - yet even on those few I gained a good sense of her strength, grandness of spirit and soul, and sharp intellect. She identified plants, talked of the history of places, and added all round to our sense of the mystic importance of hiking the woods and hills and our beloved County and beyond. I saw clearly why she is a legend. And of course I knew her already, from having two of her grandchildren as beloved students. I can see her in both Nate and Jeannie. Thanks also for the inspiring suggestions of ways to remember Polly. It is a great list! I will keep it in my head and mind and think of her when I accomplish things!
Cornelia and Wally R

We were truly saddened by the news of Polly's "final hike". While we are sad to hear about Polly, this is most certainly not a sad story with an unhappy ending. It is quite the contrary. Polly and Dave were exemplary citizens who are intensely focused on improving their community and the local environment. They steadfastly walked the walk of stewardship and civic-mindedness, and they did so with great cheer. We need a lot more people just like them. Their example should inspire all of us to double our own efforts at citizenship. A long time ago we were introduced to a poem by a New England poet, and we came to associate this poem with Dave and Polly. For us it was the Bartlett's who actually lived in the house by the side of the road where the race of men (and women) went by. One of our enduring memories is Polly at her water station during the Bridge of Flowers race.
Bill and Carolyn W

Polly was larger than life! What a force and inspiration to live life to the fullest. I'm honored to have known her and will always remember her.
Cathy B

I wanted to tell you all how much I enjoyed having your mom in yoga classes when she was out in New Mexico.

I can only guess at the enormity of the hole in your heart left by such an extraordinary woman. I always felt like I was in very special company when I had the chance to spend time with Polly. How incredibly proud she was of each of you.
Patricia D

I know how close you all were to her, and I've heard so many fun Polly stories over the years. I always knew she was an extraordinary person - skiing into her 90s! - but it was inspiring to read her obituary and learn about all that she did in her life. I hope you will be able to gather to remember her and just celebrate her through all of the activities you did as a family.
Ali P

What a loss! What a tremendous loss to you and our community. But the fact is that without her beautiful full front-facing life there would be little notice. How fortunate that you had her and that she shared her gifts with us so freely.
Janice and Michael

Your loss will be felt by all who knew her - and by many who never met her but just know of her great love of nature, community and life. In March, looking at the melting snow on Berkshire East at pentathlon time, I thought of her skiing in her 90s. What a wonderful role model for a long life well lived. Please know that we are thinking of you and all your family at this sad time.
Suzanne and Lloyd

We're sorry to hear of Polly's exit, graceful though it was. She was one of the first people we met in Massachusetts, in the drama club, 45 years ago, and offering us a winter home for our boat in the hayloft of the barn. Both Polly and David were very welcoming to us. It will be a lot to celebrate in her life when the time comes.
Peter and Carol

I've enjoyed knowing your mother since my arrival to Shelburne falls in 1980. My daughter was lucky enough to have her instruction and ride Civi. She will continue to live in my memories.
Pat S

I was very saddened to read of Polly's passing. It was always good to see her about town, coming and going from either post office, or the Garden center, or Aubuchons. She met my aunt and uncle years ago on the Amtrak train going somewhere, and she never forgot how much she enjoyed the encounter - and that she knew me. She will be deeply missed!
Connie C

I'm so sorry to hear about your mom, but it sounds like she was as awesome as ever up to the end! I have such fond memories of the years she attended my yoga classes and the insights and enthusiasm she brought to the room. I'm not sure you're aware of it, but whenever my mother came to visit from WV, Polly and Hazel Porter and Lisa Merrill would arrange to get together with her for walks, for tea, and other activities. My mom always loved those outings and gatherings and looked forward to seeing her friends in Western Mass. I'm attaching my favorite picture of your mom, from December 2014. She was eager to do a chair headstand -- "headless headstand" we called it -- and I love the absolute joy you can see on her face as she spent some time in the pose. I was always in awe of her strength, her stamina and her sense of adventure.
Photo of Polly Bartlett
Polly doing a "headless headstand" in yoga class
Lindel H

I am blessed to have known her all these years. She brought me sticky buns just last week because I was in rehab.
Marilyn Z

A day before Polly passed, I waited on Bridge Street while she crossed on the crosswalk in front of me. I recall thinking, there goes intrepid Polly! Yes, a bit stooped, but walking with purpose and totally independent. It made me smile and yet again admire her spirit. I am thankful that is my final image of her. I am so sorry for your loss of such a force in your life. While it came suddenly for you all, it would have not been like Polly to hang around to be anything less than Intrepid & Independent Polly.
Carol B

Sad news indeed. Just held the door for her at McCusker's last week and she was looking for all the world like she would live forever.
Steve H

She was an amazing inspiration for all of us who are active and hope to be in our future years. What an amazing woman for her determination and all she did for the west county area. She will be missed by so many.
Tom and Judy

Polly was such a strong presence, on the ski hill, in the Drama Club, on a walking hike, and no doubt in all her relations and activities. She is a model of aging gracefully with zest and a full love of life.
Becca K

We were just talking about her yesterday! Our son was talking about eating fiddleheads, and we recalled her feeding us some! It is so sad for you, and we know you'll miss her so much and so often - as it should be with such a special person so much a part of your life.
Frank S

She certainly lived a long, active and fulfilling life. Although she may have struggled to put her ski boots on in her last years of skiing, she still had the skill and strength to ski down the mountain with confidence and competence and was an inspiration to us all on the hill. Your parents were so generous to me during high school with an open invitation to spend February vacations at your house in order to get some extra skiing in and to see another way of life. It was great going to the nearby dairy farm to get the milk and eggs or to the co-op for other food items versus the grocery store. Living with you, I enjoyed a variety of different fruits and vegetables from my regular diet, including some "brandied fruit" on ice cream which became my favorite dessert. I recall one evening down in the basement with your father getting a lecture on well systems, your house's water source and the need to make some improvements to the house's water supply. I have to say, it was always a learning experience when I visited as well as a fun time. My mother always enjoyed her time with your parents during her visits and was thankful for your mother's friendship. Your mother will certainly be missed. From everything I saw, she enriched the lives of the people she encountered. It was a pleasure to have known her.
George and Laura H

What a wonderful long time you all had with Polly, and what a blessing she had family around when she collapsed and how short a time it was before she went on to her next adventure. I hold Polly in a special place in my heart, and miss knowing she is just around the corner. If I conjure up an image of her, it is at the counter in the farmhouse kitchen, chopping up a batch of cabbage for coleslaw, surrounded by good smells and good feelings. I'll miss helping her with her holiday cards, and puttering around in the garden. I'll miss her straightforwardness and basic kindness. I won't miss getting lost with her on hikes into the wilderness looking for some old trail. My goodness she had some perseverance! I miss Dave too, and I'm forever grateful to Polly for loaning him to me for our fishing expeditions. I was especially grateful for a place to land during hurricane Irene, as well as to know that there was always an open invitation for a home cooked meal. It makes me glad to know that the farmhouse is staying in the family; I know that meant a lot to Polly, as well as having such a wonderful place to live in as the Little House which Bobby built with such care. May your missing her be balanced with good memories and may your lives be as full as hers was with you as her family! Polly was a bright light, and even though there is truly a hole in all of us, there is a bright light in there.
Polly F

I am saddened beyond words. Polly has been a great influence in all our lives, and we'll carry her with us always. The day Polly died I was in Maine. The next day Bob and I hiked a razor-back trail with my sister and her husband - in remembrance and honor of Polly. We are old (Tony turned 80 that day) but we made our best effort and completed the three mile loop. We were all four legged creatures, as Polly says, using our trekking poles. A long time coming, this note of remembering Polly-I suppose because it truly is difficult to acknowledge that our dear friend has gone on and we are left here with a thousand memories through a friendship and shared experience that meanders over 41 years. But there is a comfort that remembering brings. Beginning with our daughters, who loved horses, Polly made them "lucky" with her 4H horse club [aka "Lucky Horse Lovers 4H Club"], teaching first Heather, then Sarah. She gave them the opportunity to learn good horsemanship and provided the horses to practice with-and gave them more than a few adventures along the way. Polly loved young people! These years remembered spans three generations-more recently, we shared time and activities with my grandchildren, Bobby, Heather, and Claudia (Sarah's) and Polly's great-grandson, Nicholas, at her new house. What fun times sledding down Sal and Bob's hill! And rolling in the snow! And tasting maple syrup! And listening to her read Kipling's "How the Elephant got his Trunk." And, 18 years ago, she trudged Julia and Jillian (Clifton's) through the snow in the Purple Forest, and later gave them Russian tea in her living room at the farm, while she read "In the Land of the Sleeping Elephant." Through all the seasons, Polly and I shared our love of the fields, hills, and streams in over a dozen towns and countless miles! My favorite hikes and x-country skis with Polly and Dave, were in the Purple Forest behind their house, and in the Catamount Hills where we popped at the top, sometime before the 'champagne hikers' was officially formed. My walks with Polly in Buckland and Colrain were times of reflection and conversations on homesteads, families and foods/recipes. I cannot begin to explain how she pulled me up from disbelief and despair after Heather died, but these walks-and yoga-held the key. Our last walk together was on a beautiful high and dry fall day last September 2020. We drove up to York Mountain Farm in Colrain (now Jane D's home, formerly my family's homestead.) On the drive up, Polly sang to me and Bob a song that I believe her mother wrote (you might recall it?) about a farm at the end of the road. She sang sweetly; and later she recited a poem, also by her mother I believe. We parked the car in a field, and had a leisurely walk into the woods, and around the homestead, and out across the field to the beaver pond area. That day is a cherished memory for Bob and me. Surely many friends have told you of good times with Polly-and we're so glad for these memories of times together that she made happen for all of us.
Nan and Bob F

I wanted to recall our happy memory with Dave and Polly. Dave arranged a cross Canada train trip through the Rockies to Vancouver Island. It was our first extended train trip and we had a great time with them. We left on April 4, 2002 and were traveling for two and a half weeks. I kept a journal of the trip and just spent a few minutes reading about our adventure. We celebrated Dave's birthday on the train. So grateful for this memory.
Carl and Sally K

As I hope you all know, both Polly and Sir Dave were a wonderful part of my life. I enjoyed our family visits to the farm as a child and Polly teaching me to care for and ride horses. I also appreciated their open door policy whenever I was in the area as well as their visit to us on San Juan Island when we lived out west. Many, many happy memories of times shared with them and you all.
Joan D

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Thank you to Nate, Jeannie, Marie, Sally, Nan and everyone else who supplied pictures.

If you have any Polly stories to share please send them to bartletts at

Thanks for reading.

Sam Bartlett, for all those who loved Polly Bartlett.

Photo of Polly Bartlett
The 2017 "Pine Brook Farmers" family pentathlon team