SHARON — Brent Prindle died peacefully Saturday morning, May 6, 2023, surrounded by family at UConn John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington after a long battle with bladder cancer. He was a month shy of his 83rd birthday. A lifelong, fourth-generation Sharon resident, Brent attended Sharon Center School and Oliver Wolcott High School and was deeply rooted in the community both as a tradesman and active volunteer.
Brent’s wife of nearly 60 years, Barbara, asked him shortly before he passed what he loved most. “It made me happy and gave me a lot of pleasure in my life to help my family and friends,” he said.
Brent’s first job after graduating from high school was at the Berkshire Transformer Co., a now-defunct electronics design and manufacturing firm in Kent, where he worked for 20 years, many of those as manufacturing manager.
He then joined Cornwall Electric where he worked for another 20 years, eventually buying the business, which he ran with Barbara. Brent used to say that he knew the inside of most homes in Sharon and that was surely the truth.
He developed an expertise in electronics and most things mechanical. He loved to take things apart — cars, lawn mowers, and anything electronic — to see how they worked and was skilled enough to put them back together, restored to working order. An early computer geek, Brent could write code and also solder together the components of a motherboard in the earliest days of computers.
“He had a computer before there were computers,” Barbara said.
Brent loved his family, NASCAR, gardening, and the Taghhannuck Grange, which he joined at age 14. He was instrumental in maintaining the historic Grange Hall on Dunbar Road in Ellsworth while also attracting new members to keep the agrarian organization thriving even as the number of local resident family farmers began to dwindle. He ran the Grange’s annual plant sale, a welcoming presence in a big straw hat who knew everything about each plant on offer. He loved working in his own vegetable garden — a love he inherited from his mother, Kay, who was passionate about organic gardening decades before that became a thing. Brent loved to cook and would run workshops at the Grange on how to can vegetables and make jams and jellies from the berries and quinces he would pick in the woods and along roadsides. His borscht was delicious.
As a member of the volunteer Sharon Fire Department, in 1968 he helped build the Ellsworth Fire Station which adjoins the Grange Hall. He also drove the Sharon Ambulance while volunteering for the Fire Department.
Brent served as assistant leader of Sharon’s Boy Scout troop as a young man, but then had the great fortune to have three daughters. He switched and led Sharon’s Girl Scout troop. He began tending the Ellsworth Cemetery 50 years ago, taking over the job from Ralph Dunbar. The painting of the white picket fence that used to surround the cemetery was both a Grange and family affair, until Brent determined the fence wood was shot. He replaced the picket fence with a handsome faux-wrought iron post and chain fence that stands today. He also was the caretaker for small cemeteries on East Street and Tichnor Road.
Brent was a long-time elected member of the Sharon Board of Assessment Appeals and could often be seen at meetings of other town boards and commissions, both as a knowledgeable resident able to offer advice and also to video meetings for viewing on the local public-access television and website. He was a founding volunteer in 2019 of the Sharon Connect Task Force, which is working to ensure all Sharon residents have access to high-speed internet at their homes. Brent used his knowledge of the town’s utility grid to map out where in town there was no access to high-speed internet and he was key in helping assess various plans being considered for how to wire the most unserved homes at the least expense to the town.
A steadfastly practical man, Brent even assured Barbara that his purchase of a 1972 Dino Ferrari for about $20,000 — the same amount as they spent to build their house — would be a good investment. The man knew sportscars. He initially courted Barbara by driving back and forth from Sharon to her college in Long Island in a two-seater Austin-Healy. He ended up owning five different Opel GTs and even had a Model A, though that classic wasn’t a sports car. He was practical, yes, and only drove the Ferrari on special occasions, but he did learn to race the “investment” at Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park.
Brent loved his family and stayed close. He and Barbara, who married on July 4, 1963, and therefore got to celebrate every anniversary with fireworks at Lime Rock Park, purchased land from his mother and built their house next door to her.
He had a generous heart and was always willing to share his knowledge to help others. Indeed, after surviving his first bout of bladder cancer, he and Barbara began running a support group for other cancer patients at UConn hospital, holding meetings one Saturday a month. The groups continued for 10 years, until Covid hit. Brent spent his last days at UConn hospital in hospice care and his family wishes to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff there for their exceptional care and kindness.
Brent was pre-deceased by his parents, Stuart and Kay Prindle, and his daughter Michele Prindle Eykelhoff. He is survived by his wife Barbara; his daughter Wendy Prindle Grillo and son-in-law Scott Grillo; his daughter Debbie Prindle Hanlon and fiancée Mike Taylor; his son-in-law Thomas Eykelhoff; his brothers Dale, Barc, and Warren; his sister Pam Barlowe (Prindle); and his grandkids Charissa, Mariah, Anna, Thomas, Kat, and Allie.
There will be celebration of life at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Taghhannuck Grange, mailing address at 468 Cornwall Bridge Road, Sharon CT 06069.