According to his family, Will Raap passed away on Monday night. He was a well-known Vermont businessman best known for launching Gardener’s Supply and the Intervale Center. He was 73.
His passing was ascribed to a “long-term sickness” by his family.
His three children, Kelsy, Addison, and Dylan, along with his wife Lynette, said in an email that “he was a guiding star and crucial in the lives of many of us.” The family requested time to mourn and promised to share details of a memorial service for him in the upcoming months.
In 1983, Will Raap established Gardener’s Supply, now run by its employees, and has become a destination store for plants and gardening supplies. The business employs 260 people throughout its four stores, two of which are in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire, and one in Vermont.
Additionally, he founded the nonprofit Intervale Center, a 360-acre site of farmland, trails, and open space near Burlington. It has inspired many Vermont farms and guided many more in their efforts to increase access to local food.
Shelburne resident Will Raap had recently started working on the ambitious Earthkeep Farmcommon project at a former dairy farm on Route 7 in Charlotte. He aimed to create a network of environmentally sound agricultural enterprises that may eventually be reproduced on other abandoned farms in Vermont and elsewhere.
When contacted by Seven Days for a May cover story on Will Raap’s most recent endeavor, friends and relatives hailed him as a “visionary” and dedicated leader.
At the time, Travis Marcotte, the longtime executive director of the Intervale Center, remarked, “There’s a force that is Will.”
But despite his success, Will Raap’s moral compass remained unwavering, according to fellow businessman and close friend Alan Newman.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Newman stated, “The thing that jumped out most for me about Will was his intelligence and his humanity.” “I just don’t remember him ever choosing what was proper to do over what he needed,” the author said.
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One of Gardener’s Supply’s initial workers, Cindy Turcot, expressed a similar opinion. Even though the business didn’t have much money in the early days, Will Raap was determined to offer her a raise, so he accepted a salary reduction himself.
The company’s current CEO, Turcot, stated that it was never only about the money or the bottom line. It had to do with caring for people.
In July 2021, Will Raap underwent quadruple bypass surgery, at which time surgeons installed new heart plumbing they believed would last him additional ten years. His wife of more than 40 years, Lynette, revealed earlier this year to Seven Days that he returned to email shortly after the treatment. She recounted that he had said, “I want to go out spent and burned out and contributing to the max.”
When Did Will Raap Establish The Gardener Supply Company?
In 1983, Will Raap started the Gardener’s Supply group of businesses. He focused on creating social and economic opportunities while also being a responsible landowner when he founded Intervale.
One of Will Raap’s most recent projects was Earthkeep Farm. A modern farm focused on regenerative farming methods in the Nordic Farms footprint in Charlotte.