The death of Perry Polderman has left a noticeable void in the Canton area this week.
At the Canton Transfer station, many residents have missed his banter, strong opinions and childlike attention to their canine friends.
Rob White, a co-worker, remembers how excited his two dogs were when they got to the transfer station on Saturdays, knowing that Polderman would give them plenty of attention and treats.
“They loved him,” White said.
Residents also appreciated Polderman's work ethic, town officials said.
“He was a valuable member of the Department of Public Works and I’m sure everyone who visited the transfer station appreciated his helpful service,” said Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner. “He will be missed by everyone.”
The day after Polderman died at at the scene of a motorcycle crash in Torrington, Public Works Director Robert Martin fielded calls from residents.
“I’ve gotten calls from residents all day who just wanted to say how much they appreciated him and what he did at the transfer station,” Martin said late Tuesday afternoon.
Martin and his co-workers meanwhile were “still stunned” by the death.
“It was a tragic day and our prayers go out to Perry’s wife and family,” Martin said.
On Wednesday morning state police said they continued to investigate the accident, which happened on Route 8 Monday evening. (See previous story here)
The grief has only been compounded by the fact that this isn’t the first time residents have missed Polderman’s presence.
In September of 2012 he sustained serious injuries from another motorcycle accident, also in Torrington, but was hell bent to return to his transfer station post, which he did last August.
During his recovery, co-workers and a group of riders dubbed Out Spoke –N – Girlz hosted fundraisers for Polderman. Another resident set up an account at Collinsville Savings.
Co-worker Dan Manyak was impressed by Polderman’s determination to get back to work and the speed at which he recovered.
“It was unbelievable,” Manyak said.
He had seen that same drive when residents encouraged Polderman to open his gun shop, American Shooters, on Route 44.
“That was his dream,” Manyak said.
This week, Wilson’s Pub owner/operator Esther Witkos recalled a man who could steadily match her sarcastic wit.
“You busted my ass every time you came in, and handled every bit of sarcasm I gave you,” she wrote on facebook. “I'll miss you my friend.”
On Tuesday, Witkos acknowledged Polderman would have honed in on the day’s selection of overly fruity beers. He also refused to eat the restaurant’s steak sauce and they purchased a bottle of A1 just for him.
One time Polderman cleaned his without a word. Witkos pointed out that he had nothing negative to say. He came through, however, essentially telling her shut the hell up.
At the Brass Horse Café Kim Hamel missed a member the dinner crowd family she’s gotten to know so well in the past two years.
“I am so devastated by the loss of my friend Perry,” she wrote on the restaurant’s facebook page. “He was a man of courage, fighting back from the loss of his leg; he never gave up. His love for his family and his wife he carried on the sleeve of his shirt pressed against his heart. I will miss his warm smile and great big hugs. He was loved and will be missed by many. To Wendy our thoughts and prayers are with you my friend, my arms are here with everyone else's to hold you when you need us.”
Hamel said Polderman touched the lives of so many.
“He was loved by a lot of people,” she said.
She also recalled his love of mozzarella sticks and his larger-than-life presence.
“He always came in, looked around and said ‘I’m here,’” she said. “He just had a big personality.”
Some may have raised eyebrows when Polderman purchased another motorcycle after his first accident but co-workers and friends said he just loved riding.
“There was no doubt he was going to get back on the bike,” said Bobby Cahill. "It never crossed his mind that he was going to hang up the keys.”
Caling hours will be at The Ahern Funeral Home, 111 Main St., Rt. 4, Unionville on Sunday (Jan. 19) from 2 to 8 pm. Funeral services will be held in The Ahern Funeral Home on Monday (Jan. 20) at 10:30am, followed by Burial in Center Cemetery, Burlington.
Donations can be sent to Bikers Against Animal Cruelty B.A.A.C. PO Box 68, North Haven, CT. See more in his obituary.