William B. Gannett, 93, of Hopedale, MA passed away peacefully on July 4, 2017 in Laconia, NH. He was the husband of the late Nancy (Farnam) Gannett for 64 years before her passing in 2013. Born October 9, 1923 in Boston, MA, he was the son of the late Thomas B. Gannett and Dorothy (Draper) Hamlen. He was the last surviving grandchild of the Governor of Massachusetts, Eben Sumner Draper. He attended Milton Academy, graduating in 1943. Just prior to graduation, he joined the Air Force, serving with the 34th Photo Recon Squadron, The Flying Monkeys, in Europe until the end of WWII. Following the war, he remained in Germany to help map the country and served as a sentry at the Nuremberg trials.
Mr. Gannett started work with the former Draper Corporation in 1947, spending 28 years with the corporation before it was sold to Rockwell International. His family founded Draper Corporation over 130 years ago. Draper was once the largest maker of power looms for the textile industry. Mr. Gannett was the last Draper descendent to live in Hopedale. After leaving Draper Corporation, he was a founder and partner in DREX Associates before his retirement.
Mr. Gannett, known as Bill to his friends, gave tirelessly to benefit the town of Hopedale, serving as selectman for 13 years. He served on the board of the Hopedale Community House as both a member and board president. His civic work included being Chairman of the Board of the Hopedale Charitable Corporation and the Hopedale Foundation. At Milford Regional Medical Center he was Board President and continued on as a Trustee Emeritus. Mr. Gannett was a bank director at the Milford National Bank and Trust Company for over 25 years. He actively supported the Claflin Hill Symphony, based in Milford MA. He also helped support and renovate the Little Red Shop in Hopedale. He was an active member of the Hopedale Unitarian Parish serving on many committees over the years.
An avid traveller, Bill and Nancy enjoyed driving all over the United States to visit family and friends. Their adventures took them to all seven continents including several African photo safaris. On one of their trips to Antarctica, they circumnavigated the continent, the first cruise ship to accomplish this feat. Traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, their trip took them to Warsaw, Poland, Outer Mongolia and Beijing, China. They summered on Lake Winnipesaukee for over 50 years.
Mr. Gannett is survived by his children, W. Bristow Gannett Jr. and his life partner, Sam Jeffries III of Missouri City, TX; Robert F. Gannett and his wife, Suzan M. of Thornton, NH; and Mary Crowell and her husband, Donald E. of Meredith, NH. He has four grandchildren, Jessie M. Heath and her husband Cris of Chichester, NH; Eben Gannett and his wife, Angie of Thornton, NH; Nancy Crowell of Boston, MA, and Dorothy Crowell of Meredith, NH. He also has four great-grandchildren, Cody Heath of Chichester, NH; and Kayley, Phoebe, and William Gannett of Thornton, NH. A son, George D. Gannett and a daughter, Nancy Gannett, predeceased him.
The family wishes to express sincere gratitude to the staff at Taylor Community for their caring and compassion over the last 18 months, as well as the excellent caregivers who attended to him while he was in Hopedale. A memorial service will be held at Hopedale Unitarian Parish, 65 Hopedale St., Hopedale, MA on September 9, 2017 at 11am. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Milford Regional Medical Center, 14 Prospect St., Milford, MA 01757, The Little Red Shop, C/O Town of Hopedale, 12 Hopedale St., Hopedale, MA 01747 or to the Hopedale Unitarian Parish, 65 Hopedale St., Hopedale MA 01747.