An Appreciation: Edward C. Stickney

Images appear courtesy of the Bedford Historical Society – Click to view read the photo captions

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

Edward Caleb Stickney, a former resident of Bedford, died on April 17 at age 96. Calling hours will be held at the Bedford Funeral Home on Sunday, April 23 from 1 to 3 pm; burial will be private. Stickney was predeceased by his wife, Evelyn (Bollman) Stickney and his son, Kent.

A graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology, Stickney received an Associate’s Degree in 1941 and was awarded an Honorary Bachelor of Technology degree during Wentworth’s 1996 Commencement.

A volunteer at the Bedford Free Public Library for many years, Stickney was also a part-time, fill-in custodian, and a generous patron. Former Library Director Meredith McCulloch recalled, “Ed was an exemplary volunteer. He loved the library and stood ready to help where needed. He mostly worked at the circulation desk serving patrons for over 1,000 hours many years. He was always cheerful and a pleasure to be around. The staff was amazed that when the work backed up from a snowstorm, a power failure, or following a Monday holiday, Ed would anticipate the need and show up to help with the backlog of incoming books, getting them back on the shelf and ready for patrons.

“Devotion to the library was a Stickney family affair. Ed and Evelyn donated funds for the circulation desk and furnished the Bedford Room in memory of their son Kent. Evelyn had worked as secretary and bookkeeper at the library and Kent was a library page when he was in high school.”

Don Corey, current president of the Bedford Historical Society, noted that Ed Stickney, president of the Society during the 1960s, and his wife Evelyn, “contributed greatly to the Society during their active lives. Their involvement appears repeatedly in documents and photos during the 1950s and forward.”

Beginning as the Society’s publicity chair in 1963, Stickney quickly grew into the role of president, serving two terms in 1965 and 1967.

“Meeting records from Stickney’s tenure as president in  1968 reveal his concern even then with retention of the Society’s permanent home in the Pickman Memorial Room of the Stearns Building after the Library moved across Mudge Way to its present location,” noted Corey.

Ed and Evelyn Stickney’s long-time interest in and research on bells cast by Paul Revere led to the publication of a booklet in 1956 that was updated periodically through at least 1976.  The Bedford Historical Society has several editions.

“A current Society project to organize and inventory the historic deeds in its collections,” Corey added, “has revealed a number that were transcribed by Ed and Evelyn; only those who have ever tried to read deeds with old cursive writing and many obsolete terms realize what an incredible undertaking that was.”

A member of the Bedford Minuteman Company from 1966 through 1981, Stickney served as the publicity chairman for the 1970 Strawberry Festival – a now-defunct July 4th celebration that involved shortcake and candle-lit lanterns on Bedford Common. For many summers he was a volunteer for the Minuteman National Park at North Bridge in Concord, describing colonial clothing, workings of the musket, and playing the fife and drum. Dan Puffer remembers Stickney as “one of the original men, and a fifer.”

Stickney also served on the Executive Board of the Minuteman Company, in charge of music for the annual Pole Capping exercises. He retired to Associate Membership in the Minuteman Company in 1981.

According to the Bedford Minuteman newspaper, the Stickneys presented Revere Reverberations, a program for a Historical Society meeting: “For over 20 years the Stickneys have been pursuing their hobby of locating, verifying and studying bells cast by Paul Revere and his son, and they are the outstanding authorities in this field.”

In addition to his membership in the Bedford Minuteman Company, the Bedford Historical Society, the Friends of the Bedford Free Public Library, and the Friends of Depot Park, Stickney was a member of the Pilgrim John Howland Society, National Society of Old Plymouth Colony Descendants, Sons and Daughters of the First Settlers of Old Newbury, Friends of Plum Island Lighthouse, Lighthouse Preservation Society, Newburyport Maritime Society, and the Peabody-Essex Museum.

Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Office of the Executive Director, Paul Revere Memorial Association, 19 North Square, Boston, MA 02113, or the Friends of Bedford Depot Park, Bedford Freight House, 120 South Road, Bedford, MA 01730.

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