Elmer Tarr, according to his wife, Gerry, “loved everybody, and everybody loved him.” In his 87 years of life from 1916 to 2003, Tarr loved his community and was very active in enriching the lives of others in Bristol and beyond. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, built houses, served with and led the Masonic Lodge, became a Bristol Lion, and shared his skills with the Shriners, the Bristol Footlighters, and Habitat for Humanity, to name a few of his many interests in addition to raising a family with his wife.
Gerry and Elmer Tarr maintained a camp on Biscay Pond and invited many friends to gather there in the summer for canoeing and playing games, and to enjoy meals and have fun together.
Feeling the need to keep moving as he recovered from bypass surgery in the 1980s, Elmer Tarr, accompanied by his daughter, Suzanne, would set off from their homes on Bristol Road at 6 a.m. nearly every morning and walk to the Pemaquid Light, meeting other friends there. By the time they walked back to the house, they would have covered several miles.
Gerry Tarr remarked that the weather didn’t bother them; they’d go out in blizzards. Elmer Tarr always carried a bag in his pocket and when he spotted litter alongside their route, he would pick it up. Suzanne remembers having great conversations with her dad during their walks. It was a special time for her. She continues to walk the Pemaquid Point loop. Her daughter and grandchildren keep the family tradition of giving to the community by picking up and recycling litter where they live.
Elmer Tarr’s tradition continues in the efforts of Billy Claflin, of Pemaquid Point, who walks and cleans up litter every day on Pemaquid Peninsula. According to Suzanne, “He’s amazing!”
It was entirely fitting that in 2004, the Bristol Lions and the Masonic Lodge dedicated their first and now annual Bristol roadside cleanup to Elmer Tarr and the Tarr family. Volunteer organizers from Pemaquid Watershed Association are joined this year by the Bristol Area Lions, Bristol Masonic Lodge No. 74, the Bristol Roads and Highway Department, and numerous community-minded Bristol businesses, nonprofits, and individuals in keeping his memory and inspiring example alive with the annual Elmer Tarr Bristol Roadside Cleanup.
The 2018 Ccleanup will take place on Saturday, April 28 (rain date: May 5), beginning with registration at Bristol Consolidated School, at 2153 Bristol Road from 8 to 9:30 am. We encourage helpers to bring their own heavy gloves and reusable water bottle. Trash bags, water refills, and snacks will be provided at the school. We strongly discourage the use of single-use plastic bottles because they are having a significant and disastrous impact on our lands and in our waterways and oceans. During a litter cleanup, we don’t want to contribute to the problem. Participants are reminded to conduct tick checks afterwards.
Helpers can pick up litter alongside any Bristol road or register with the organizers and be assigned a stretch of road.
Why register? This year, our focus is on cleaning up as much of Bristol Road as possible, so by registering, organizers can keep track of which sections are being delittered and know where to direct the trucks to pick up filled bags. We also want to acknowledge and thank all participants in an article in The Lincoln County News.
Registration isn’t required, but we would like to know about everyone’s effort. For those unable to join us on April 28, please feel free to clean up roadside litter on Earth Day, April 22, or any day that following week.
Pemaquid Watershed Association was established in 1966 and is a volunteer-based, membership-supported nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve the natural resources of the Pemaquid Peninsula region through land and water stewardship and education. For more information, go to pemaquidwatershed.org.