BROWNVILLE, Maine — A local man, who has donated countless volunteer hours to school children to ensure that the rich history of the community and region never fades from memory, gave Brownville Elementary School pupils a special gift Thursday.
William “Bill” Sawtelle, 63, an author and historian, gave the school an oil portrait of his grandfather, Will Roberts, shown splitting a piece of slate. Sawtelle, who said his grandfather came from Montreal to work in one of the town’s three major slate quarries, commissioned Allen Monroe of Milo to do the portrait.
Roberts, the last Welsh quarryman in Brownville, died in 1962 in Sawtelle’s arms. Giving the school the portrait both honored his grandfather’s memory and gave children one more glimpse of local history, he said.
“I love the school, I love the kids,” Sawtelle said, of his volunteer efforts.
Brownville Elementary School Principal Chris Beres, who thanked Sawtelle for the painting, told the pupils during an assembly Thursday that Sawtelle had worked with local school children for 27 years. She said the painting will be displayed in the library.
A third-generation Brownville resident, Sawtelle has worked over the years with students on history projects involving Brownville. Sawtelle said he speaks to a class about their history and then the children do projects based on what they learned. In addition, Sawtelle participates in the annual Brownville History Day and gives children guided tours of Katahdin Iron Works, Lakeview Plantation and Brownville Junction and village.