Joseph G. Carleton, Sr.

Joseph G. Carleton, Sr., of Mont Vernon, N.H., 92, died at his home on November 5, 2013. He was born in Mont Vernon on June 27, 1921, the son of George O. and Bessie Blood Carleton and one of the seventh generation of Carletons to live in Mont Vernon since the 1700s. He grew up on a farm in a family of farmers, and once related that he and his father and grandfather used to drive cattle 28 miles to summer pastures in Windsor, NH, in the late 1920s. He graduated from Milford High School with the class of 1939, where he played on the football team.

Restless with life on the farm, he scored well enough in a written competition to win free classes for aeronautical “ground school.” Shortly thereafter, at age 18, he purchased a small airplane, a Piper Cub, which had been given the name “Time Flits” by its former owner, Frank Hawks, a famous aviator of the 1920s and ’30s. The plane was based in Grenier Field, now the Manchester Airport. In rapid succession, he obtained a pilot’s license, a commercial pilot’s license and became a private flight instructor. He joined the U.S. Navy as an officer in 1943 and earned his naval aviator wings at age 21. The Navy sent him to Bunker Hill Naval Air Station in Indiana, where he was a flight instructor. It happened that Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox was undergoing flight training there at the same time. Many years later, Williams, who lived near the Carleton retirement home in Citrus Hills, Florida, paid him a visit to talk about those days.

While in Indiana, he met Ellen Gabriel, and they were soon married – a marriage that would last for 61 years until her death in 2005.

Later in World War II, he was a ferry pilot, flying newly built fighter aircraft cross country about 50 times, from New York to San Diego, where they were loaded onto aircraft carriers for the Pacific war. After the war, he was in the Naval Reserve for several years, serving as the Executive Officer for his squadron at Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Mass. He was also active in the Civil Air Patrol and was a civilian flight instructor at Boire Field in Nashua, also obtaining a helicopter pilot license there.

Returning after the war, he was employed as a rural mail carrier, based in Mont Vernon, reliably delivering mail in Mont Vernon and Amherst, six days a week, for almost 40 years, retiring in 1986. Among the belongings found after his death was a commendation from the U.S. Postal Service for 3,000 hours of sick time, never used.

He had varied interests, including sports, playing on a local softball team until well into his 60s. In retirement, he took up golf and, like everything else he undertook, soon mastered it, once shooting his age. He was an active member of the volunteer Mont Vernon Fire Department and was elected by its members as its Chief, serving in that position for 20 years. He was an avid sportsman, enjoying hunting and fishing trips with his cousins and friends. He also had a special talent for finance and investing, serving as trustee and treasurer of the Daland Memorial Library in Mont Vernon for many years and successfully growing its investments. And he was a skillful poker player, playing regularly with a circle of friends in Mont Vernon and Florida.

With all this, he was a quiet Yankee, a modest, soft spoken man of few words, always willing to lend a hand to someone in need. His word was his bond, and he was trusted, admired and loved by those who knew him.

He is survived by his two children, Joseph Carleton, Jr. and his wife Patricia, of Kittery, Maine, and his daughter, Kay C. Gabriel of Madison, Wisconsin. He is also survived by a sister, Eleanor Buraczynski; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.

Services were held on November 10th in the Mont Vernon Congregational Church, 4 South Main Street, Mont Vernon, NH. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Mont Vernon Conservation Commission, P.O. Box 444, Mont Vernon, NH 03057.

Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford, NH 03055. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to www.smith-heald.com.