SPENCER- Richard “Dick” Whittemore Bemis,91, died Saturday, October 12, 2019 after a valiant struggle against Alzheimer’s Disease. Son of Roger E. Bemis and Helen (Hobbs) Bemis, he was born in the family farmhouse in Spencer and died next door.
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Richard is survived by his loving wife Marjorie (Olson) Bemis; sons Edward & his wife Tina and Gregory; a grandson Carter all of Spencer; a sister Dorothy and her companion Pat Hayes of Florida ; many nieces & nephews and grandnieces & grandnephews. He is predeceased by a son Mark and siblings Warren, Betty McCord and Barbara McCarthy.
Richard took Marjorie on their first date to a Vaughn Monroe concert in Framingham. Their paths became intertwined and they married 59 years ago in Sudbury, MA. Prior to that, in 1947 at the age of 18, he took the bold step of starting Bemis Farms Nursery in Spencer. An ornamentals nursery specializing in perennials, before they were widely known and appreciated. Richard graduated from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst. He took an unexpected break from his fledgling nursery while he served his country as an Artillery Master Sergeant in Korea, responsible for one of the first racially integrated artillery units in US military history.
He was born in a Spencer farmhouse, and passed away next door, on the same farm, in his sons home just 900 feet away. But in that 900 feet he fit in a million miles of touching people’s lives. His cheery demeanor accented with humming and whistling, his never ending, kind gestures to everyone he met, and his propensity to provide a seemingly limitless stream of donuts and pastries to family and staff are all things that will never be forgotten.
He was active in 4-H, and worked part-time early on in the Extension Service office. He spent time in the Worcester County Horticultural society, winning some of the top award for his stunning, but naturalistic landscape displays that were probably a bit ahead of their time. He served as President of the Massachusetts Nursery & Landscape Association, and was active in other local, regional, and national horticultural groups. He attained his Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist status the very first time the test was ever given. He was awarded the prestigious lifetime achievement Silver Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
Last weekend as hundreds of children and parents were having a glorious time making scarecrows and playing in the pumpkins on his farm, he was looking down smiling, seeing that he had achieved his dream of making the world a little bit better and happier place. He will be deeply missed.
Friends and family are invited to attend calling hours on Friday, October 18,2019 from 4-7PM in Pillsbury Funeral Home 163 Main St. in Spencer. The funeral will be held on Saturday at 11AM in the funeral home. Flowers may be sent, or memorial donations made to the Mark Bemis Memorial Scholarship at Becker College.