Jay C. Pratt ’40

Jay C. Pratt ’40 died on November 7, 2011, in Pilesgrove, New Jersey.

He was born on July 29, 1918, in Groveton, N.H., and graduated from Farmington (Maine) High School. At Bowdoin, he was a member of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He had worked for four months as a graduate assistant at Boston University when he was recruited by DuPont to work in the Carney’s Point Works, Plant I Ballistics Lab. He returned to Maine briefly to work at the Ideal Toothpick Factory but returned to southern New Jersey to raise a family and work as chemical supervisor at the Chambers Works. He remained there for 39 years before retiring to pursue his real passion: cultivating his 18 acres of land in Sharptown into Pratt Gardens, which he opened to the public free of charge. He created his own varieties of azaleas and rhododendrons and named them after family members. A member of the Pine Barren Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, he received their Bronze Award and Best of Class at the Philadelphia Rhododendron Show for the original azalea he named for his wife, Mary Pratt. Once active in the Presbyterian church, he helped to build the Union Presbyterian sanctuary and Sunday school and was a member of the 7:59ers’ Club. He served as an elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, a bass in the choir, and made his famous cookies and doughnuts for coffee hour at Salem Presbyterian Church. He was named elder emeritus when he left the church. He was an Eagle Scout and Scout leader for the troop in Carney’s Point in the 1950s. He also led numerous groups of young hikers on the Appalachian Trail, a hobby from his youth in Maine, where he climbed Mount Katahdin. He taught a home school botany class using his own beehives and donated his body to Rutgers University Medical School. He is survived by two sons, Rev. John P. Pratt and Peter Charles Tufts Pratt; two daughters, Kathyrn M. McKeon and JayeLaurel Pratt Davis; six grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Norma Pratt. He was predeceased by his wife of 53 years, Mary Laurel Twiggs Whittaker; a brother, Phillip; and three sisters, Theresa, Eva, and Sister Mary Christine (Evelyn).

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