William F. Pulver ’39
Date posted: June 17, 2011, 11:19 am
LAKEVILLE – William “Bill” Frederick Pulver Sr., died at home on June 8, 2011, at the age of 92. He was born Aug. 25, 1918, to Helene (Keller) and Worthey J. Pulver. In 1941 he married Adrienne “Adie” Thorn, who predeceased him in 2005. Bill loved his family, his many friends, golf and a good joke. He was often “fined” at Rotary for his jokes, and he really liked the long ones that fooled you into thinking it was going to be a true story. As long as he was able, he also enjoyed lake and ocean sailing and skiing. In his 80s and 90s, he solved at least one very hard sudoku puzzle a day and kept the books for Rotary. He golfed through last year, when he was 91, and his golf buddies took him in April to the usual dinner at the Woodland at the start of the season. None of us can remember a single moment when he showed anyone anything but kindness. He was also a true tech nerd before the word was coined (according to his biased children), but he kept his knowledge and genius quiet. He was born in Sharon Hospital in 1918, when it was in a house, and grew up in Millerton, graduating from Millerton High with 12 classmates. He was accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT), but they required more courses, so he attended The Hotchkiss School instead, which he said was harder than MIT. In his teens he was building radios. He talked wistfully about wanting to start a radio station around here in the 1960s and 1970s, years before anyone ventured into one. He loved jazz and all music, building his own music system into the house in Millerton 64 years ago. At MIT he studied the emerging field of time and motion study. He had planned to enter aeronautical engineering after graduation in 1939, but worked at other firms around New England on war efforts, until he was drafted into the Navy near the end of the war. He worked on radar briefly in Virginia. At Springfield Armory, his first job, he designed a motion- saving rifle part, but apparently it was deemed too expensive to put into production in wartime. He came to Millerton in 1947 to work for and buy out his father’s business, Dutchess Auto, and was joined by his brother Peter. Worthey and Frank Pulver sold cars long before there were franchise dealers, and at a time when many still said that cars would be a passing fad. Dutchess was sold to State Line Buick when Bill retired. The building is now home to Gilmore Glass, and the Flying A/Getty gas station they owned is now the Mexican restaurant Salsa Fresca. They also owned Dutchess Oil. Several years ago another Pulver sent him documents showing that all Pulvers around the area descend from one Johannes Wendell Pulver, who arrived in 1710 to harvest pine pitch for British ships. The immigrants had brutal conditions getting out of Germany, getting across the ocean, and surviving the first winter in Germantown, which they managed with the help of a local tribe. The pines were the wrong kind and they never got the land they were all promised. More than half went to Pennsylvania. There are now countless Pulvers who are related, but it would take a huge family tree to map it. Bill and family moved from Millerton to Lakeville in 1957, and all three of his children graduated from Housatonic Valley Regional High School. He is survived by his three children, Pat Lamb of Bellingham, Wash., Fred Pulver of Carbondale, Colo., and Joy Pulver of Lakeville; his sister, Ann McElroy of California; his brother, Peter Pulver of Florida; 11 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. His life has lightened and brightened ours, and we will miss him dearly. A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Church in Salisbury, on a day to be determined.