Commemorative sign, bench dedicated to the late Robert ‘Grumpy’ Conway

Dec 21, 2020

A commemorative sign and bench on the banks of Grumpys Brook were formally dedicated in memory of Robert (Bob) “Grumpy” Conway on Saturday, Dec. 19.

A crowd of more than 15 people gathered for the outdoor dedication ceremony on Cole Property Conservation Land, despite the brisk temperatures and snow-covered pathways.

Sarah Hewins, the chair of the Carver Select Board, said a few words at the dedication ceremony. She explained that the Cole Property Conservation Land is a 221 acre parcel off Pleasant Street in Carver, and added that the land seemed destined for development before the town bought it.

The former property owner brought subdivision plans to the Carver Conservation Commission so that the Commission could delineate the property’s wetlands, Hewins said. At the time, “Grumpy” Conway — a veteran, cranberry bog foreman and avid local conservationist and wildlife photographer — was a member of the Carver Conservation Commission and Hewins was Carver’s conservation agent.

Part of Conway’s job, according to Hewins, was to verify the wetlands delineation on the property along with the other commissioners.

“During that delineation, Grumpy discovered a small spring — the source of this perennial stream, this brook — on the eastern portion of the property,” Hewins said. “At the time, we were convinced the property would be sold for development and the process of wetland delineation was a sad one, lasting many weeks.”

But the town bought the land in the end, and Hewins said she and the commissioners “were overjoyed.”

Hewins explained that Conway passed away suddenly about three years after the town purchased the Cole Property for conservation, recreation and public drinking water supply protection.

It seemed highly appropriate that this brook should be named for him,” Hewins said.

Hewins said she wrote to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to request they name the perennial stream Conway discovered the source of “Grumpy’s Brook.” But when Hewins received notice that the Board had accepted the name, she was surprised to find they left out the apostrophe. She got in touch with the Board to point out the error.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names responded that they hadn’t made a mistake by removing the apostrophe, Hewins said. The Board said it could not use any form of naming that indicated a person owned any natural feature. Natural features, such as brooks, cannot be owned by any one person.

“I truly believe Grumpy would have appreciated the fact that neither he — nor anyone else — could own this brook,” Hewins said.