'Town Clock Custodian' dies in truck crash: Winchester mourns loss of selectman
WINCHESTER, N.H. — It didn't take long for Robert Leustek to build deep roots in the Winchester community.
Leustek and his wife, Gloria, moved to Winchester from New Jersey in 2014. In that short time Leustek joined the Board of Selectmen, worked on the Revitalization and Economic Development Committee and spread cheer all around with his famous pig roast barbecues.
On Tuesday, Leustek was killed when his dump truck crashed into a vacant home on 3 East Main St. Colrain, Mass. He was only 46.
The Massachusetts State Police are still investigating the accident. Northwestern District Attorney's office spokeswoman Mary Carey said the investigation will be thorough and will likely take the next six months.
Colrain Fire Chief Nicholas Anzuoni told the Greenfield Recorder that it was likely Leustek's truck lost its brakes.
Sandra and Linwood Rowland live next to the building that Leustek's truck crashed into.
"I heard a loud noise. I thought it was people working on the bridge," Sandra said. No one had lived in the building for four years, Linwood said. The two said the crash was cleaned up by the end of the day.
Leustek had many friends in the Winchester community. He was described as always smiling.
"We were brothers in alcohol," Robert Patton-Spruill, the owner of New England Sweetwater Farm & Distillery, said. "He made mead and I made liquor."
Patton-Spruill was friends with Leustek. The two worked together on the revitalization committee. Upon learning of Leustek's death, the distillery lowered its flag to half mast in his honor. Patton-Spruill said people have been coming into the distillery all day to talk about Leustek.
"Everyone's been a pal," Patton-Spruill said. "His energy was spent on making the community a better place and helping local businesses."
In addition to serving on the Board of Selectmen, Leustek made it his mission to restore the Winchester clock tower. Board Chairman Ben Kilanski said Leustek was the first to volunteer to help. He was unanimously voted the Town Clock Custodian.
Leustek figured out that the clock wasn't working because it was dirty and old. He researched where to get parts and how to restore it. The clock tower project was underway, and Leustek had found a man in Massachusetts who could fix it. Right now, Kilanski said, there are still clock parts and pieces scattered about Leustek's yard. The board is working on gathering those pieces and continuing Leustek's work with the clock.
Leustek was irreplaceable, Kilanski said.
"I don't think I've ever met another man like Robert," he said.
Kilanski said Leustek's family is asking that the media refrain from contacting them at this point. Kilanski said he wasn't sure if talks of an official memorial had been brought up yet.
Leustek's wife, Gloria, was his best friend, Kilanski said. They were together for over 20 years.
"They're both amazing people," Kilanski said. "Gloria deserves just as much credit as he does."
The board won't consider how it will replace Leustek's seat for a few weeks, Kilanski said. At Wednesday's meeting the board held a moment of silence in honor of Leustek. On Tuesday, after finding out about his death, the board lowered all of the flags on town property to half mast.
"We are devastated by this loss," Patton-Spruill said, "and we don't know how it's going to affect the town and we hope someone else steps up."
Harmony Birch can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext.153. Or you can follow her @birchharmony.
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