William Welles Brainard

December 10, 1953August 29, 2020

William Welles Brainard, 66, Retired Independent Scholar, Antiquarian and Farmer of Melody Farm, Coventry, Connecticut succumbed on Saturday, August 29, 2020 from his decade long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Bill was born December 10, 1953 in Willimantic, Connecticut to Suzanne Dudley Welles Brainard and Jesse Albertine Brainard. William was the Great-Great Grandson of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, and a direct descendant of Connecticut’s fourth Governor, Thomas Welles. He is survived by his brothers Robert Welles Brainard, Thomas Welles Brainard, John Welles Brainard, his niece and nephew and many cousins and friends across the nation. In addition to his parents, Bill was predeceased by several close cousins. Bill was a focused student with a lifelong passion for learning, books and historical exploration of his community and environment. Bill possessed a prodigious, nearly letter perfect memory. He freely shared his well-researched discoveries and was a generous dispenser of soundly researched, tautly written, online historical essays. He was an alumnus of Eastern Connecticut State University and Coventry schools. Bill was upbeat, knowledgeable and compassionate; the epitome of a caring friend and brother. He was diligent and unstinting in his attention and care of his parents, relatives and friends in their times of need and distress. Bill worked with the late John Gambino at Gambino’s Coventry Bookstore, as a knowledgeable literary and ephemera raconteur. At the former Lake Wangumbaug “Roller Rink” Bill offered tasty comestibles to auction goers and tag sale aficionados for several years at the popular Coventry venue. In summer 1961, Bill, an older brother and his father made a Volkswagen microbus borne, cross country drive from Coventry to Brookings, Oregon to visit Bill’s Grandfather, M. S. ”Max” Brainard. Max was a journalist, noted philatelist, columnist and World War I United States Naval Aviator with service in Brittany, France. A bond was established between Bill and Max. They shared correspondence and infrequent visits until “Max’s” death in 1986. Bill engaged in original research into his Grandmother’s life, the late Ruth Muriel Trost Welles, a Connecticut business woman, artist, politician (in the best sense of the word) and agriculturalist. Bill expanded on and shared Grandmother Welles’s pre-World War I experiences as a young graduate of the Conservatory of Music in New York City and her two years as an “Equity” player with the road company of “Bringing Up Father.” The company toured the United States and Canada from 1914 through 1916. Bill lived on the family dairy farm for the majority of his life and travelled widely about the United States. He served as a Coventry Justice of the Peace and joined several hundred couples in Holy matrimony. Bill was a stalwart of Coventry’s Pomona Grange 75, a Brother of Uriel Lodge 24, A.F. & A. M., Merrow, CT and an active player in local political affairs. Many of Bill’s most enjoyable hours were spent at his Coventry farm in its gardens and fields and relaxing through classical airs he played on his Steinway piano. His life was simple and well-ordered avoiding much of the hassle of frenetic American life. Bill’s life was testimony to the often quoted, apocryphal phrase associated with the late Sir John Templeton, “…It’s OK to make money so long as you don’t enjoy it!” Bill enjoyed life. William Welles Brainard was interred in the Gideon Welles plot at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, CT on Friday, September 4, 2020 near his late parents and kin. Remembrance services may be conducted in the future. Memorial contributions may be made to The American Parkinson Disease Association, 135 Parkinson Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10305 and to the Coventry Historical Society, Post Office Box 534, Coventry, CT 06238”


  • The American Parkinson Disease Association
  • Coventry Historical Society


  • All Services Were Private


William Welles Brainard

have a memory or condolence to add?

Tim Bowen

September 13, 2020

To Bill's Family. I am so sorry for your loss. Hanging around the farm from time to time in my early years I remember having many conversations with Bill about the history of Coventry. He was a one of the most knowledgeable historians that I knew We would message once in a while on FB in recent years and he was truly a .courageous man. Rest in Peace Bill. Tim

Deb fitzgerald

September 6, 2020

I'm not sure I met you Bill, but you taught me a lot about Coventry's history through your facebook posts... rest in peace now all your worries are over..

Jeanne Young Mattson

September 2, 2020

William will be missed by all who knew him! His incredible memories of his family and town history both entertained and informed us! He loved and cared for his parents for many years.. Our hearts have been with him thru his many years of illness , and we pray that he is truly now at peace! He was a good and decent man!

Sharon Bernier

September 2, 2020

So sad to learn of Billy's passing. It was so nice reading all his historical posts. RIP, Bill. You earned it.

Holly Gantner-Hunt

September 2, 2020

Billy Brainard, a good good man. May you truly rest in peace. I will always miss your wonderful Coventry history lessons 🤗 !

Gail (Hutchins) Fellows

September 2, 2020

Hugs and prayers for Bill and his family.
You were quite the Historian and your postings will be missed
Both by us "oldies" and the youngster coming along.
RIP Bill. Out of pain and confusion and in a place of love and serenity. 🙏

Susan Meyers

September 2, 2020

Bill, You were the man of Coventry history. May you rest in God's Love and Peace.

Gary Gillon

September 2, 2020

My sincere thoughts and prayers to you all on the lose of William. I remember Bill from our time at Coventry schools and more recently through his great memories posted on FaceBook.

Bruce Caisse

September 2, 2020

Bill, was a wealth of historical information and could tell you just about anything you would want to know! His posts of memories on Facebook are missed!

betty-jean bennett

September 2, 2020

Billy will truely missed,my heart goes out to his family.
he will be missed but never forgoten


Learn more about the Brainard name