In the quiet little town of Waterford, William Haynes was someone everyone knew. I called him Bill, but most people simply referred to him as “Dood”. Although I never used the nickname, it seemed appropriate for a 6 foot 8 inch-tall man who raised horses. But that was not all he did…
Aside from a lengthy tenure of raising Welch Cobs on his farm in South Waterford, Bill was an active and long-standing member of the volunteer fire department and served for many terms as the assistant chief. He wore “a few” other hats for the town including: Code Enforcement Officer, Health Officer, Cemetery Sexton, Tree Warden, Fire Warden, Deputy Moderator, Webmaster, Tree Warden, EMA Director, Addressing Officer, and Assistant to the Selectmen. His many hats and ubiquitous presence in town earned him another nickname: “the Mayor of Waterford”. But his interests and career extended beyond municipal duties.
Although he eventually retired from raising horses, Bill never stopped growing, cutting, and bailing hay on hundreds of acres each year. He had a very strong connection to the land but was a communicator by trade and took many a phone call while out on his tractor. Of course, the conversation would usually end with “Well, y’know, we gotta make hay while the sun shines…”
A true jack-of-all-trades, Bill began his career as a journalist and was astute at passing on the news, whether it be through the Portland Press Herald, the Advertiser-Democrat, his own Mutiny Brook Times, or around the table at Melby’s. His ability to quickly and accurately transcribe key information made him a coveted member of local groups, area non-profits, and town committees.
Along with his journalistic prowess, he always had a camera around his neck and was the default photographer for all events in town. Standing a good foot over most everyone else, he had a natural advantage for getting the perfect shot.
And while the daily pulse of Waterford may have pumped through his veins, Bill also saw how the past and the future connect in the green hills and valleys of the town. He was a steward of the land he owned, which extended beyond the hay fields into hundreds of acres of woodlands that he proudly managed sustainably. Bill realized the value of his forested ownings, not only as a source of income, but as an intrinsic part of his family legacy, and something that will help keep Waterford’s streams, rivers, and lakes clean for generations to come.
Keeping land as productive forest was something that he not only practiced, but also preached. As a chapter head of Woodland Owners of Maine, Bill hosted numerous workshops on his land and at his portable sawmill, which was built by fellow townsman Dale Sanborn.
When Bill unexpectedly left us this past winter, his land, equipment, and farm passed on to his son Preston and daughter Victoria. In talking with Preston in May, he astutely noted that his father “ran an operation that you would need a small squadron of people to maintain.” That said, he realized the importance and the value of the family land and reminisced about horseback riding through wooded trails up to the lookout on Mount Tire’m. Although he was as unsure of the future, Preston said his family’s land would remain in a tree farm and sustainably managed for the coming decade.
Over the winter, I had talked with Bill about “harvesting” some of his expertise to host a workshop for area landowners on sustainable land management. I was extremely excited about our coalescing plans, which involved a demonstration of his Sanborn sawmill and a tour of some recently harvested land. I had a feeling it was going to be a success, and I was confident it would be well attended because, after all, everyone knew Dood.