Maynard Preston Olmstead, longtime Wolcott resident and founder of Wolcott Sand & Gravel construction, died Saturday, March 20th at his home. He was 84.
Maynard was married for 52 years to the late Eleanor "Sid" Morrison (Bent) Olmstead, a West Hartford native. She died in 2008.
The eighth son of the late Ollis and Martha (St. Peter) Olmstead, Maynard was born Nov. 18, 1936 on the family farm in Woodland, Maine. There he attended classes in a one-room schoolhouse until the eighth grade, when he left his studies to work the farm alongside his nine brothers and sisters.
The 1950s saw Northern Maine farming on the decline, prompting Maynard to set his sights on booming financial opportunities available in Connecticut. Packing few possessions, Maynard set his sights south, where he immediately began to prosper.
Shortly after his arrival in Connecticut, Maynard met his future wife at a gathering of friends on the banks of the Farmington River. The attraction between the two was instant, but as the son of a rural farming family and the daughter of a prominent West Hartford family, the match appeared ill-suited in social circles. Defying naysayers, the pair eloped to New Brunswick in 1956.
Maynard and his wife immediately returned to Connecticut and settled in Wolcott, where they began a family that would remain an integral part of the community through the present day. Initially working simultaneous jobs at Raymond's Bakery in Waterbury and White Oak Construction in Plainville, Maynard applied his determination, hard work - and a financial blessing from his father-in-law - to start his own, Plymouth-based business: Olmstead Contractors; Later, Wolcott Sand & Gravel.
In the decades to follow, Maynard would eventually be joined by his two sons, Kelly and Kirt. Together, they created a sizeable construction and excavation operation that would go on to serve the residential, commercial and municipal sectors of Connecticut for the next six decades.
Maynard's larger-than-life personality extended far beyond his business enterprises. His passion for family, friends - and his dogs - was memorable; Notably, "Timber," the family's prizewinning Siberian Husky whose antics around town and at AKC events were featured in regular Republican-American newspaper columns throughout the 1970s.
A proficient hunter and licensed firearms dealer, Maynard was fountain of knowledge in the field of weaponry. Alongside fellow riflemen Rodney Olmstead, Jeff Bent, Wilfred Levasseur, and Art Jalbert, he spent many winters stalking deer and moose on Square Lake, a remote region of Maine where he built a hunting camp. In warmer weather he was often found on coast of the Niantic River, where he welcomed countless relatives to the seaside family cottage.
After a lifetime's work - "70 years of on-the-job training," he called it - Maynard handed the reigns of business over entirely to his sons. Sometimes still seen operating the occasional excavator or bulldozer, he spent his most recent years entertaining a steady stream of friends and extended family at his hilltop residence, known by long-time Wolcott residents as "Maynard's Mountain." Much like his home, Maynard's legacy will loom large over Wolcott and the surrounding community.
He is survived by his sons: Kelly Maynard Olmstead and spouse Janet, of Terryville; Kirt Preston Olmstead and spouse Cheryl, of Wolcott; grandsons: Jamie Preston Olmstead and spouse Robin, of North Carolina; Kraig William Olmstead, of Bristol; and great-granddaughters: Cheyenne and Leah Olmstead, of Wolcott. He is also survived by his step-grandchildren: Stephanie, Alicia, and Buddy; and step-great-grandchildren: Mackenzie, and Andrew.
In addition to his wife and parents, Maynard was predeceased by his siblings: Philip, Floyd, Dale, Dwain, Norman, Rodney, and Leona (Levasseur). He is survived by a sister: Marie Malm, of South Carolina; and a brother: Wendell Olmstead, of Plymouth.
He is also survived by long-time companion, Arlene Grasso.
In adherence with Maynard's request, there will be no public funeral or services. A private burial ceremony at the family plot in Edgewood Cemetery will be held for immediate relatives at later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Maynard Olmstead's name can be made to: Wolcott Congregational Church, 185 Center St., Wolcott, CT 06716; or Wolcott Volunteer Ambulance, PO Box 6066, Wolcott, CT 06716.