Whittemore Hardware Remembers Arthur Bourgoin
Arthur Bourgoin a resident of Watertown was a familiar face at Whittemore Hardware. Blind since birth, the 78-year-old resident of Watertown was a frequent visitor to downtown Melrose.
A graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind, Arthur would not let his blindness hold him back. He bought a house in the 1960s where he and his late wife, Aline, shared many years together. He retired from Polaroid after 32 years of operating a film-rolling machine. In his later years, Arthur volunteered his time at the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library and played the piano for the residents of a Melrose nursing home where his late companion Anne Marie lived.
While in Melrose, Arthur would frequent the hardware store. The door would swing open and you’d hear his guide-stick tapping along the metal gondolas, followed by his jovial voice calling out for Arthur, Mike, or Steve. His requests were always simple and he was a joy to work with. He’d joke about his color preferences or having Arthur over for Thanksgiving dinner with all the lights off. His good nature and humor were what made Arthur stand out, not his blindness.
Winters were a task for Arthur but not enough that he would stay home. After all he spent 78 years defying odds and overcoming challenges. Snow packed sidewalks created obstacles that often led him into the street where he would have to navigate his way back to an accessible walking path. Even with record Boston snowfalls, Arthur would not be discouraged. He trekked through the snow and continued his trips to Melrose and his volunteer work. On March 3rd Arthur was on his way from his favorite Watertown diner to Melrose when a car in Watertown struck him. He later died from his injuries.
Our hearts sank at the news of losing an inspiring man we had grown to admire. We learned of the news too late to attend the services and share with his family just how far reaching Arthur’s impact to others was. We thought about the life Arthur lived and the legacy he leaves behind.
An inspection chair now sits empty at the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library where more than 500,000 items in braille, audio, and large print are circulated to about 25,000 patrons. A number of these books have been thoughtfully examined by Arthur to make sure that they are free from error ensuring a quality experience for the end user. For the blind and disabled, accessibility options are crucial. 75% of blind people are unemployed and there are more than 4 million children that are not in school simply because they are blind. Arthur not only understood the Perkin’s school mission, he lived it.
In memory of Arthur, we are taking donations for the Perkins School. 83 cents of every dollar donated goes towards helping fund accessibility options. We are collecting money at the store or if you would like to donate directly to the school there is more information on their website, www.perkins.org/get-involved/donate. We hope that you can join us in celebrating the life of Arthur Bourgoin.