Watertown, MA — John J. Bartley Jr. died peacefully. surrounded by his family. on April 3, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was born on July 20, 1926, in Amesbury, Mass., to John J. Sr. and Mary Ellen (Greeley). He graduated from Amesbury High School in 1944, and left for the Navy the following day, having secured his parent’s permission to enlist at the young age of 17. He served in WWII, working on airplane engines as did his father before him in World War I. After the war, he enrolled at Tufts University and completed his civil engineering degree at Northeastern University. John was a devoted husband to Anne (Colpoys) Bartley, his wife of 62 years, until her death last December, and a loving father to his three children. He is survived by Suzin Bartley and her husband, Chris Navin of Milton, John C. Bartley of Watertown, and Anne Reddington and her husband, Michael Reddington of Milton. John deeply treasured his seven grandchildren, Brian Navin of Dorchester, Paul Bartley-Navin of Milton, Matthew Bartley of Waltham, Tyler Bartley of Watertown, Julia Reddington of New York City, and Bartley Reddington and John Reddington of Milton.
John was a well-known automotive historian, beginning in the 1940s with his published research papers on the automobile industry in Amesbury from 1891 to 1929. He was an avid antique car enthusiast, having owned several antique cars over the years, and was well-known throughout the region for his meticulous care, and even more, so for his encyclopedic knowledge of pre-1940 automobiles. John was also an active and longtime member of the Klaxon Antique Auto Club, the Bay State Antique Auto Club, the Early V8 Ford Club of America, and in prior years, the Veteran Motor Car Club of America. He was especially fond of vehicles manufactured in his hometown of Amesbury, most especially the Franklin, which his father helped design and manufacture. His most loved vehicle was his 1937 Ford that had been in his family since its original purchase, and he delighted in its unrestored beauty. After a brief stint at the B&M Railroad, John spent the rest of his professional career at Boston Edison, where he headed up the company’s real estate division. He was known for his savvy negotiation acumen in purchasing hundreds of tracts of land for Edison’s early expansion into Eastern Massachusetts. His personal knowledge of every parcel of land and easement made him a legend in the company. John was well known for his quick wit, storytelling and had hundreds of sayings, often told with a swamp Yankee drawl and a smile. John was very active in his community of Watertown, where he raised his family and had lived since 1958. His nearly 50 years of dedicated service to the town included various appointed and elected positions. He was on the permanent school building committee, a longtime town meeting member, and served on the traffic commission for 20 years. He was also a founding member and longtime officer of the East Watertown Betterment Association, as well as an active member and usher of St. Theresa’s Parish, and later Sacred Heart Parish, collectively for over 50 years.
ARRANGEMENTS: His visitation will be held on Monday, April 7, in DeVito Funeral Home, 761 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, from 4 to 8 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 8, at 10 a.m., in Sacred Heart Church, Watertown. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Children's Trust, 55 Court St., 4th Fl., Boston, MA 02108, or childrenstrustma.org.