Family and friends have confirmed that the person killed in a lawn-mowing mishap west of Simcoe May 1 was former Township of Delhi Coun. Larry Partridge.
On May 1, Norfolk OPP reported that a riding lawnmower rolled over on an individual on McDowell Road East around 10:40 a.m. Motorists who stopped found Partridge, 78, pinned beneath. He suffered serious injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It was a real tragedy,” said daughter Staci Partridge in an interview. “He was larger than life. He had a lot of strong opinions.”
Partridge served on the former Township of Delhi council and Haldimand-Norfolk regional council prior to the restructuring of the latter into the standalone municipalities of Norfolk County and Haldimand County in 2001.
For many decades, Partridge was a driving force behind the Donnybrook Fair in Walsh and its sponsor, the Charlotteville Agricultural Society.
Lindy Matthews, of Langton, took over as secretary-treasurer when Partridge stepped down several years ago. Wednesday, she said news of Partridge’s death came as a shock. Matthews had always known Partridge to cut the grass at his Blayney home with a push mower.
“It’s a very sad thing,” Matthews said. “I’m going to be lost without him. If you wanted to know anything about the fair you asked Larry.”
The 162nd edition of the Donnybrook Fair was held in 2019. Alf Casselton of Delhi, president of the Charlotteville Agricultural Society, said the Walsh event got its name in the 1800s when Charlotteville-area farmers would gather for a harvest celebration. There, Casselton said locals often settled their differences with fisticuffs.
The Donnybrook Fair ran for three days for many years but was later cut back to two. A highlight of the event in recent years has been a well-attended demolition derby.
Casselton said Partridge’s devotion to the fair was part of a family tradition. He said Partridge’s father and an uncle were involved before the former councillor came aboard more than 50 years ago.
Casselton said it was important to Partridge that students at Walsh Public School and St. Michael’s School came away with good memories of the fair. Partridge, he added, was also keen on perpetuating the fair’s agricultural tradition.
Casselton said Partridge kept tidy, reliable books for the fair board and was effective at securing grants.
“He was a community man,” Casselton said. “He was an easy-going guy. But if Larry got excited about something, you knew about it.”