Brownville man donates painting to school

Posted Nov. 08, 2009, at 10:26 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

BROWNVILLE, Maine — A local man who has donated many volunteer hours to schoolchildren to ensure that the history of the community and region never fades from memory gave Brownville Elementary School pupils a 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 schoolchildren for 27 years. She said the painting would be displayed in the library.

A third-generation Brownville resident, Sawtelle over the years has worked with students on history projects involving Brownville. Sawtelle said he speaks to a class about the town’s 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.