William and Bette Batchelor Fund at Community Foundation Celebrates Couple’s Love of Community
New Fund Will Aid Causes That Improve Quality of Life in New Britain, Berlin
New Britain, Conn., June 8, 2015 – Bill Batchelor would probably never tell you so himself, being the unassuming, nose-to-the-grindstone gentleman he was, but he epitomized the archetypical self-made man, someone who built a successful and rewarding life and career not through inherited wealth, but thanks to good old-fashioned hard work and ingenuity.
Today, the Greater New Britain community is reaping the reward of Bill’s and his wife Bette’s industriousness, compassion and love of community.
Bill, who passed in 2011 at age 86, and Bette, who died at age 90 in 2013, have left a large portion of their sizable estate to the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain for establishment of the William and Bette Batchelor Fund, which is dedicated in accordance with the donors’ wishes to “improving the quality of life in New Britain and Berlin.” As a Field of Interest fund, the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors is authorized to make future grants from the fund to community causes and organizations in keeping with the Batchelors’ wish.
The first Batchelor Fund community grants will be made this year.
“Bill and Bette Batchelor were an engaged couple, people who were involved and dedicated,” said Ann Bova, Senior Philanthropic Advisor for the Community Foundation who assisted the family in establishing the fund at the Foundation. “We think it’s so wonderful to play an important role in helping this generous couple realize, in perpetuity, their vision of giving back to the community they loved.”
The Community Foundation is but one beneficiary of the Batchelors’ largess. The couple, who resided for many years in Kensington, also left sizable gifts to the New Britain Museum of American Art, Kensington Congregational Church, the Friendship Service Center, the Hospital of Central Connecticut and the Klingberg Family Centers. Bette’s Mom, Margaret Porter, actually lived as a child at the old Klingberg Children’s Home for needy children decades ago when it was housed on Corbin Avenue.
“My aunt and uncle were wonderful people,” said Shelly O’Brien of New Britain, Bette’s niece who was executor of the Batchelor estate. “They didn’t always have means, they started out with nothing. They knew what it was like to want and were grateful for all they had.
“They wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to them.”
Bill Batchelor was born in Chicago, lived in Cleveland and attended Cleveland schools. He served as an ensign on a PT boat in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and graduated from Yale University in 1949. He began his career in the engineering lab at the former Tuttle & Bailey manufacturing plant in New Britain, before becoming the company’s vice president of engineering. He later founded the William L. Batchelor Air Conditioning & Heating Company and worked independently as a manufacturer’s representative until his retirement in 1987. He was a past president of Shuttle Meadow Country Club, and served on the board of directors of the New Britain Museum of American Art and New Britain General Hospital, now the Hospital of Central Connecticut.
Bette was a New Britain native and attended New Britain schools, graduating from New Britain High School. She went into secretarial work and worked for both The Travelers Insurance Company and American Red Cross. She was a docent for many years at the New Britain Museum of American Art and was particularly fond of the weekly school tours she conducted, introducing children to the world of art.
“Aunt Bette had a soft spot in her heart for children, particularly those from New Britain,” said O’Brien. “Both my aunt and uncle embraced the notion of enhancing the lives of children.”
Bill and Bette were both members of Kensington Congregational Church and Shuttle Meadow Country Club. In addition to golf and tennis, they enjoyed skiing, bridge and engaging in community activities. They summered in Charlestown, Rhode Island, and enjoyed many winter skiing getaways in Vermont.
Established in 1941, the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain connects donors who care with causes that matter in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. It does this by raising resources and developing partnerships that make a measurable improvement in the quality of life in each of these communities. For more information, visit www.cfgnb.org