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Winchester community mourns selectman killed in truck crash

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

August 16. 2017 9:13PM
Town clock repairman and Winchester Selectman Robert Leustek was killed in a truck crash in Massachusetts Tuesday. (COURTESY)

WINCHESTER — The town flag is half-staff this week in honor of Selectman Robert Leustek, who died in a truck crash in a nearby Massachusetts town Tuesday morning.

The call came in around 7:50 a.m. that a dump truck crashed into a house at the bottom of a hill on Jacksonville Road in Colrain, Mass., according to a Massachusetts State Police spokesman on Wednesday.

The driver, 46-year-old Leustek, was deceased when emergency responders arrived.

The cause of the crash and the cause of Leustek’s death remain under investigation, the spokesman said.

“The town’s in shock. It still feels unreal to me,” Selectmen Chairman Ben Kilanski said Wednesday. “He was very well-known in town.”

Although Leustek was elected to the board for the first time in March, over the years he and his wife, Gloria Leustek, had become integral parts of town life.

Leustek served on every board and committee or group in town since moving to Winchester from New Jersey eight years ago, Kilanski said.

Last summer the couple started the Winchester Farmers’ Market as well as a summer music series, Winchester Music in the Park. The couple was also actively involved in promoting farming and gardening in town and grew fruits and vegetables in their yard, he said.

“Him and his wife, everybody loves them ... Robert’s definitely irreplaceable here. I’ve never met a man like Robert in my life and pretty much guarantee I’ll never meet another man like him,” Kilanski said.

Leustek was also a beekeeper and had set his sights on repairing the town clock.

“He took over the town clock in the church on Main Street because that had not worked in many years and he was still in the process to get some of the parts cleaned and getting it working again just because he thought the town clock should work,” Kilanski said.

“He was just an amazing guy. He did everything and anything he could for anybody,” Kilanski said.

The couple also had an annual pig roast at their home for the town every fall, he said.

Kilanski said Gloria is “devastated” and has asked not to be contacted by the media, however, she left a message on Facebook Wednesday morning.

“Yesterday I lost the love of my life, my best friend of over 20 years to a tragic accident. He was taken too young. Thanks to everyone who offered their prayers and condolences,” she wrote.

Later in the day she made a request for people to send her photos of her husband.

Stephanie Scherr of Fitzwilliam posted to Facebook Tuesday, “Time stood still today, for a moment, for the keeper of the clock. Robert was a treasure in Winchester and served his community well, long before he became a Selectman. He will be dearly missed. Robert reminded us all what it means to be a good neighbor and friend.”

Kilanski said Leustek drove for a fuel oil company in the area, but becasue it is the slow part of the year for fuel deliveries he recently took a job driving a dump truck.

He was driving for work at his new job when the crash occurred, Kilanski said.

The Winchester selectmen meet every Wednesday night. Kilanski said Wednesday afternoon that night’s meeting would go on as scheduled, but will include a moment of silence for Leustek.

Kilanski said everyone in town is still reeling from the news of Leustek’s death, but he expects some type of town memorial gathering will be planned in honor of Leustek in the near future.

mpierce@newstote.com


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