William Walter “Bill” Wetmore Sr. of Fort Pierce, Fla. passed away Feb. 22, 2015, due to complications from pneumonia. He was 87.
Bill was born in Greenport, June 23, 1927, the oldest child of George Gilbert and Julia (Parker) Wetmore. His grandfather and great-grandfather were the original two keepers at the Plum Island lighthouse. He was raised on Conklins Point in Greenport, and attended the Arshamomaque Elementary School. Bill graduated from Greenport High School in June of 1945, and after a short time in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II, he began a career as a home builder. He apprenticed with Robert Ketcham Sr. of East Marion, and became an “old school” carpenter, working on buildings across the North and South forks and Shelter Island. Bill eventually focused on projects in the Wickham Park community on Conklins Point, and was responsible for building many additions and homes that are still visible there today.
Bill married Jean Ketcham June 5, 1950, and raised four children: William Jr of Greenport, Sara of Sebring, Fla.; Nelson of Cary, N.C.; and Elizabeth of Milford, Conn.. He is survived by his family, his younger sister, Virginia Littlefield, of Niantic, Conn.; and his grandchildren, Nathan Wetmore of Elmira, and Hannah Wetmore of Cary, N.C.. He was predeceased by his sister, Marjorie Goleski, and his brothers, John Wetmore and George Wetmore.
Bill was an avid gardener, and was well-known for dozens of fruits and vegetables he grew at his Greenport home. His curiosity for all plant forms caused him to cultivate grapes, figs, apricots, blueberries, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other common and exotic plants.Bill particularly liked to experiment with grafting one type of plant to another. He retired in 1989 and moved to Florida, where he enjoyed growing many varieties of citrus and tropical plants.
Bill also liked telling stories of life growing up in Greenport in the 1930s. He remembered carrying his brothers and sisters home from school on his back over the rising floodwaters of the hurricane of 1938. As a teenager, he used to get up early before school to check traps set for muskrat, and he would sell cured animal skins to a traveling dealer to earn gas money for his first car. His father was a constable with the Southold Town Police, and Bill would ride along with him on his rounds, where he was often called upon to help with accident victims waiting for an ambulance or the coroner. He developed a love of bluegrass music, and learned to play steel guitar. As an adult, he was a member of the Junior Order of Mechanics in Greenport, and rose the rank of master craftsman. His most visible project in Greenport is the curved bar still standing at the Townsend Manor Inn.
In retirement Bill enjoyed working in his yard in Florida, crabbing in southern waters, watching golf on television, and traveling to visit family or to attend bluegrass performances.
A memorial service and internment will be held in Greenport in the spring. Cremation was private.
Condolences may be posted online at www.yatesfuneralhome.com.
Memorial contributions may be sent to the Greenport American Legion Post 185 Building Fund, PO Box 103, Greenport, NY 11944.
This is a paid notice.