Richard Parker Sawyer, known as Peter, 83, son of Jason C. Sawyer and Elizabeth Doty Sawyer, died peacefully on May 3, 2021, in his lifetime home in Jaffrey, NH. His illness was brief, and he was cared for by his wife of 60 years, Ann Sawyer, and devoted family members, Jennifer, Alfred, and Rachel, with the caring professional guidance of Home Healthcare and Hospice nurses.
Peter, born February 3, 1938, was a graduate of Conant High School, Class of 1955 and Cornell University 2-year Dairy Science program.
The words Peter lived by were taught to him by his father, “The Farm is the most important thing next to God,” and “There is no happiness or contentment in this world to compare with the satisfaction to be derived from work well done, and no work that will yield the enjoyment of farming.” Fulfilling this creed, he worked a lifetime.
Peter leaves behind so many young people, now grown men and women, that he mentored who became farmers, agricultural teachers, and veterinarians.
The small farm he took over as a 5th generation dairy farmer was a herd of 40 Jerseys. At the time of Sawyer Farm’s disastrous fire, 1999, the milking herd totaled 100 Holsteins and 125 heifers and calves. Every animal had a name. She was not just a number.
Caring for farmland was paramount and his stewardship involved many sacrifices, as with all farmers. Many hardworking helpers assisted the never-ending farm chores over the past 60 years. He was so grateful that his cherished cousin Alfred is now ably carrying on having been part of the farm operation since he was 8 years old.
He was quietly a regional historian with perhaps the most extensive private collection of NH town histories in the state. He enjoyed sharing the history of Sawyer Farm’s farming from 1858 on, such as stone walls of boulders hauled by oxen in the cooler moonlight hours, his grandfather’s ox yard now a pine forest, the area where the pigs were kept, the very short sheep operation, the era of multiflora rose fences, the many kinds of weeds he could identify, that is until one time someone planted a small plot of marijuana in his 100 acres of ensilage corn. He had to look up that weed. It was chopped with no ill effects to the cows.
Peter was for over 20 years a member of the Jaffrey Board of Adjustment, and on Agricultural ASCS committees, and on Agway committees. He was a member of Agri-Mark Cabot cooperative, and Farm Bureau, and NH-VT Holstein Association.
Family members include his loving wife, Ann, daughter Jennifer Sawyer, brothers Jeremy Sawyer and wife Barbara, of Hampton Falls, NH, Sheldon Sawyer and wife Rosella of Walpole, NH, and Perry Sawyer and wife Linda of Westmoreland, NH. and Betty Sawyer of Brantingham, NY. Brothers who predeceased him were Clifton Sawyer and his wife Joyce of Greenfield, NH, and Donald Sawyer of Brantingham, NY.
A summertime remembrance at the farm will be planned.
Gifts in Peter’s memory can be made to the Jaffrey Historical Society, 40 Main Street, Jaffrey, NH 03452.