Reynold Belletete, longtime Belletetes CEO, passes at age 101

  • Reynold Belletete is awarded Jaffrey’s Boston Post Cane on his 100th birthday in 2019. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/11/2021 4:18:29 PM

Prominent Jaffrey citizen and businessman, Reynold Belletete, has passed away at the age of 101.

Belletete’s name is synonymous with the chain of hardware stores, a business Belletete and his brother Homer inherited from his father as a general store in Jaffrey, and grew into a chain of hardware stores across New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“The legacy he left is long. A lot of things in this town wouldn’t be the same without Reynold Belletete,” said Harvey Sawyer, owner of the Silver Ranch Airpark, where Belletete once kept a Piper Club airplane.

Sawyer, who said he’d known Belletete his entire life, said he had a long fascination with airplanes. In fact, he said, the airpark still has some parts from an airplane Belletete and one of his brothers attempted to build as a young man. The plane never got off the ground, but Belletete did.

“He loved to go flying. Even when he had gotten quite elderly and immobile, he still loved to go flying,” Sawyer said.

Belletete grew up only a short distance from the current Jaffrey Belletetes store, owned by his father Eli Belletete, and lived in Jaffrey his whole life, only leaving when he was drafted in World War II, where he served in the U.S. Army Air Force.

When he returned to Jaffrey, he married his sweetheart, Charlotte Egan. The couple were wed for 71 years at the time of Charlotte’s passing in 2018.

He served as CEO for Belletetes for years, helping to lead the store to a more specialized service in hardware, and expanding it to multiple locations.

“He could be a hard-driving business man when he needed to be,” Sawyer said.

Franklin Sterling of Jaffrey said Belletete gave him his first job.

“We called him ‘the Boss,’ and he certainly was,” Sterling said. “He was a wonderful man, and he and his brother Homer really grew that store into what it is today. He was somebody who was really a once-in-a-lifetime guy. He accomplished a great many things in his life.”

He remained in town the rest of his life, and became deeply involved in town life. In acknowledgement of his military service, he was a member of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

His name is among the charter members of the Jaffrey Lions Club, a local service agency. His volunteerism extended to many organizations – he was a long time member of the Jaffrey Planning Board and Zoning Board, and served on the Village improvement Society, as well as a trustee at the Monadnock Community Hospital.

“He did a lot in town,” Sawyer said.

“He took part in civic life very actively,” Sterling said. “He did a lot of good things for the town and employed a lot of people, and really helped grow the wealth of Jaffrey. The town of Jaffrey really has a lot of things to thank Reynold Belletete for.”

Sterling said that though Reynold Belletete had never run for a seat on Select Board, both his sons, Jack and David, have held the seat, with Jack serving currently.

“He passed that love of Jaffrey and for the community down to the next generation,” Sterling said.

A celebration of life for Belletete is expected to be held later this year. Donations in Belletete’s name can be made to Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Services in Keene.

  

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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