Following the Memorial Service for Wes Vanderhorst, a previous Essex Town Supervisor and long time resident of Essex, his four children (Wes Vanderhorst Jr, Leisa Vanderhorst Hill, Paula Vanderhorst, and Greg Vanderhorst) presented the town with a bench in his honor.
Hanging from the back of the bench, on the right side, is the “Do Nothing Club” cap that Wes so often wore. And just below it is a half filled cup of coffee and half eaten donut that Wes enjoyed every day. On the other side of the seat is a pile of books, a nod to Jessie Vanderhorst, Wes’ first wife and mother of his four kids, who loved to read and almost always had a book in her hand.
The plaque on the back, which notes that the bench is a gift from his children to the town in Wes’ honor, says, “Did you hear the one about….” Wes loved a good joke and a good story and always had one ready for whomever he was with.
Dad was wonderful and well loved and the bench was a welcome way to distract us from the illness that tore him away from us these last few years. We really wanted to celebrate his warmth and caring for the broader community. I don’t think he missed a single community service club, everything from Kiwanis to the United Way. The “Do Nothing Club” was a welcome respite from pancake dinners and other fundraising activities he oversaw.
Dad had a gift for stories, never remember him reading to us as kids, just sat down between our beds and began with “Once upon a time…” For his friends, it was “Did you hear the one about…” We would like to think the bench is a way his friends can still sit and have a coffee or an ice cream with him. ~Paula Vanderhorst
From Creation to Main Street, Essex
The bench sculptures were cast by the New England Sculpture Service, based in Chelsea, MA. It’s the same foundry that made the Make Way for Ducklings statues that are in the Boston Public Garden, in addition to a lot of other famous Boston sculptures. Paula Vanderhorst mentions that the woman she worked with, Marjee Levine, was wonderful.
The bench itself came out of Maryland, supplied by a company called Victor Stanley, whose sales’ rep Emma Skalka moved mountains according to Paula; they helped out in a pinch when the first bench was back ordered.
“The plaque was yet another mob, getting it all together and then up to Essex was a real group effort,” Paula informs me. “Also, Glenn at the Village Meat Market in Willsboro, had people up at 3am to bake donuts for us so we could raise 100 donuts to Dad at the dedication. Just a wonderful effort.”
The bench will be permanently located in front of the Essex Town Hall on Main Street. It is really a work of art and a wonderful tribute to Wes Vanderhorst.
- Vintage Photo: The Greystone Library (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Ron Jackson Inducted into WCS Wall of Distinction (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- How do you doodle, Essex? (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Photo: Old Brick Store, Main Street, Essex, NY (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
Patricia Gardner says
Wes was a special man. We spent many an afternoon sitting on the bench in front of the Post Office and one day we were interviewed by WCAX’s own Jack LaDuke on that bench!
Wesley Gerrit Vanderhorst, PLS says
My name is his name too! I am Wesley Gerrit Vanderhorst of Eureka, CA, my father’s son always. I resided at Essex, NY 1979-1981. I am a “Smitty” indeed Paul Smith’s College.
To me, I like citing the Mark Twains’: “The pronouncement of my Death has been exaggerated (or is it ‘highly over-exaggerated’ dear mother?)”
I am the first born son of a man with no middle name, hence not junior.
I know your digs and dug out.
Truly, if any one or person, even my siblings, would like to know about Wesley Vanderhorst, my mortal father, read a book titled “Diary of a Land Surveyor” pending publication. That will blow your hair back as I am one of four he fathered.
I am the first.
As well a tribute to my mom, Jessie-Lou, my writing sucks! I do know Chaucer though! Just another book my mom may read as she read three a day.
My father never quit merely met death. I miss him dearly as his son.
“Good luck on that part” as dad may have said.
I am Wesley Gerrit Vanderhorst b 8/18/1956 of my father and mother beyond all the testaments, stories, anecdotes, I remain.
Quite a great deal like Wes Vanderhorst, just a man. I as his son shall carry on!
I miss the pings of Lake Champlain.