William Northey, '72


(Photo source:   Stephen Frankel, '72)

Photo source:  Stephen Frankel, '72)

William Northey, '72

(Reference:  Published in The Brattleboro Reformer, 12 September 1997)

NORTHWOOD, N.H. - William Northey, 49, died at his home in Norwood on Sunday. He was the son of painter John Northey and Muriel Northey of Topsfield, Mass., grandson of Salem ship modeler William E. Northey, and descendant of Salem muralist William Northey, Jr.

He was a graduate of Windham College in Putney, Vt., where he studied under acclaimed artist Charles Ginniver.

Mr. Northey specialized in primitive paintings such as Nantucket scenes which he painted on old wooden chests sold at galleries on the island community. He created many of the signs that grace Main Street in Brattleboro, Vt., including Capt'n Bullfrog's, The Upper Crust and A Candle in the Night, which the Brattleboro selectmen declared obscene because it depicted a bare-breasted woman. In response to the protest, he simply lengthened the woman's hair so that it covered her nipples.

He spent years painting portraits, but said he preferred "touchable" wooden sculptures, marionettes and hand puppets he made and used in his traveling puppet shows. He had patented a devise for hand puppets that enabled multiple movements of a puppet's head and jaw simultaneously. He was also a longtime participant and performer in Boston's First Night festivities where his giant puppets were renowned for their artistry as well as their size. Mr. Northey was also an avid folk musician, and he built and played such instruments as the banjo and penny whistles.

He is survived by two brothers, David Northey and Peter Northey, both of Topsfield; and a sister, Susan Northey Winch of Weston, Conn.

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