BATS by HMH
(Plus, Stories from Family & Friends)
My twin sister, Mercy is a social-person. From our early days growing up in Moosup, Connecticut, she has been a magnet in developing friendships with many people. Named after the famous Mercy Otis Warren, (1728-1814) my sister and I have been very close for eighty-six years and I wanted her to marry a very special man.
She did! She married Bancroft (Bats) Richmond Wheeler, 63.5 years ago.
What a marvelous couple they were and Bats was a super addition to the Haskell family. I was fortunate to get to know Bats well and spent lots of time with him over the years. Bats was Secretary of the company I ran for 40 plus years and most effective in resolving father-son disputes that invariably occur in family businesses. His intuition and smarts affected my own life dramatically.
Bats suffered from Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There is no cure for this horrible illness which forced the Wheelers to sell their lovely home in South Natick, Massachusetts and move into a new wing of the Wingate Retirement Home. Mercy, together with their daughter, Emily, cared for Bats f in their beautiful and tastefully decorated apartment at Wingate until Bats died on March 21, 2019.
On April 10, 2019, Mercy and their three daughters, Emily, Polly, and Amy, arranged an unforgettable memorial service for Bats at the Eliot Street Unitarian Church in South Natick. I joined their daughters and five other speakers to remember this unique and wonderful guy.
Mercy came to visit Pat and me at our home on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina a week following the service. While visiting us, we talked a lot about Bats and Mercy asked me to write something about him. I eagerly accepted her challenge.
We spoke about one summer (circa 2004) when Bats and Mercy were cruising with Pat and me off the Maine coast. We wound up at Monhegan Island—a magical and somewhat remote island ten miles off the Maine coast, known primarily for its famous artists. We borrowed a lobsterman’s mooring, as there were no docks for visiting boats there. While picnicking aboard that beautiful sunny day. Bats asked me the question, “What would you like to be remembered for, Hank?”
I was taken aback with his question. We talked about various things and It never occurred to me that fifteen years later I would be writing about this man, who we miss so much and I was proud to call “My brother-in-law.”