John C. 'Put' Putnam, 86
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WELLS -- John C. 'Put' Putnam, 86, of Wells, who touched so many lives with warmth and wit, died peacefully on March 5, 2011.
Born on Feb. 25, 1925, in Marlborough, Mass., he was the son of John G. Putnam and Katherine (Egan) Putnam. Even as a child of the Depression, who lost his father as a young boy, he focused on the positive, often describing his childhood as 'carefree.'
Throughout his life, Put and his only brother, Dick, loved to sing. They harmonized at home with their mother, and later as part of various barbershop quartets. There was nothing they enjoyed more than a family sing-along or the opportunity to write and perform shows for community groups and local nursing homes. Their witty poems and songs were the highlight of many family and neighborhood gatherings. For many years John also led the folk mass at St. Monica's Parish in Kennebunk.
After graduating from Marlborough High School, John joined the Army in 1944. He was in the 630th Tank Division which landed on Normandy Beach and played a crucial role in the Battle of the Bulge. He remained in Germany after the war ended, to help with the reconstruction of France and Germany.
Upon returning from the war, he attended Boston University, where he met his wife, Virginia Burrows. They met through mutual friends, and were married for close to 60 years.
John had a long career in sales from selling Hostess Twinkies to health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield, where he made his mark. He was particularly proud to have participated, at the end of his career, in the development of an unprecedented statewide data system of hospital and medical records. This data has since been used by doctors and other medical administrators to study trends for the treatment of diseases and hospital utilization rates. Over time, the analysis of
John C. 'Put'
these records has improved health outcomes for patients and resulted in significant health care cost savings nationally.
An unassuming man, Put spent his retirement years basking in simple pleasures, such as living by the ocean, attending daily mass, and volunteering at a food pantry. Tickled to be part of what became known as 'the Greatest Generation,' he freely shared stories about his experience in World War II with family, friends, and students. With his cheerful and clever sense of humor, Put kept his loved ones laughing through his final days.
John is survived by his wife, Ginny Putnam; and his four children, including Eileen Worthley (husband Robert, their children Eben, Jim and Kit); David Putnam (wife Patricia, their sons Dylan and Christian); Nancy Wall (husband David, their children Michael and Emily); and Tom Putnam (wife Phyllis, and their children Gabe and Kiki). Put is also survived by his sister-in-law, Betty Putnam; his nephew and niece, Don and Carol Putnam, and their families.
Visiting hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, 2011, at Bibber Memorial Chapel, 111 Chapel Rd., Wells. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 10, 2011, at Holy Spirit Parish/St. Mary's Church, 236 Eldridge Rd., in Wells. Spring burial will be in Ocean View Cemetery, Wells. Arrangements are in care of Bibber Memorial Chapel. www.bibberfuneral.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to:
St. Mary's Food Pantry
236 Eldridge Rd.
Wells, Maine 04090
As with his brother, Dick,
who predeceased him, perhaps the
greatest way to honor Put's memory is to keep a song in your heart.
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Mar. 8, 2011