Bristol, New Haven land generous bequests
ADDISON COUNTY — Two county towns are wondering what to do with a windfall after receiving large bequests from a late resident.
The estate of longtime Bristol resident Andrew Johnson recently notified the town of Bristol that it would receive $103,008.83, and the town of New Haven was told it will get $34,336.28.
Bristol is where Johnson once served as a selectman and where his family’s business, A. Johnson Lumber Co., is located. He also served on the Addison Regional Planning Commission and the Mount Abraham Union High School board.
Johnson, who died Dec. 27, 2014, at age 89, made his final home in New Haven.
“This was a very generous gift from a longtime resident,” said Bristol selectboard Chair Peter Coffey. “It gives us an opportunity to look at something that can help the town and honor his memory. We’re asking the townspeople for suggestions about how we might do this.”
The town office has already received suggestions in this regard, he added, though he did not enumerate them.
The town of New Haven might also solicit ideas its residents, said selectboard Chair Steve Dupoise.
“We’re very grateful for this gift and though we’re not sure yet how we will use it, we will put some good thought into it,” he said.
Johnson’s son Ken Johnson said he didn’t think his father had any particular use in mind when he made his gifts to the towns. The specific bequest amounts were determined by percentages specified in the will. But he had a great love for public service, Ken Johnson added.
“As a selectman, my father had great respect for people who volunteer their time and energy to conduct the business of our towns,” said Johnson, who lives in Bristol and works in the family business. “He knew that budgets are always an issue and he thought that if he could give those selectboards 20 seconds of breathing room on any given day he was happy to do it.”
According to his obituary in the Addison Independent, Johnson helped start the grassroots movement that culminated in the Vermont billboard law.
“He considered public service one of the most important parts of being a citizen, helping to maintain the institutions that form the backbone of our society,” read the obituary.
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