Hallowell City Clerk Diane Polkey, left, examines a plaque Wednesday that Maureen Malley, center, returned last week to the city of Hallowell as Public Works foreman Chris Buck examines the plaque now hanging at the community bandstand. Both plaques honor C. Warren Heald, a piano player and piano tuner in Hallowell and an influential figure in the city’s now-robust music culture. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL — A plaque dedicating the Hallowell bandstand to an influential local musician has been returned to the city after having been found 10 years ago at a Sidney cemetery.

The City Council voted Monday to accept the brass plaque celebrating C. Warren Heald from Maureen Malley, the commander of Hallowell’s Goodrich-Caldwell American Legion Post 6. Later, councilors voted to return it to the bandstand just south of Granite City Park.

The “Warren Heald Bandstand” plaque, dated 1982, reads: “Dedicated to C. Warren Heald in recognition of his service to the people of this community.”

At some point, the plaque was stolen from the wall behind the bandstand.

C. Warren Heald was born Nov. 26, 1909, and died on June 9, 1987, according to his gravestone in the Hallowell Village Cemetery.

Hallowell’s City Historian Sam Webber said Heald was a “revered” piano player in Hallowell and a piano tuner. Webber said Heald was an influential figure in Hallowell’s now-robust music culture.

“He played at major events in Hallowell for many years, like Hokey Pokey and especially for functions at City Hall,” Webber said, adding Heald’s name is written behind the stage in the Gaslight Theater, on the second floor of City Hall.

Myra Broadway, president of the Hallowell Community Band, said Heald started the group in 1948. That band is known for playing at the Old Hallowell Day parade and at other Maine locations throughout the summer.

C. Warren Heald stands at the newly dedicated bandstand in Hallowell in September 1982. Kennebec Journal file photo

The Kennebec Journal reported on the bandstand’s dedication ceremony Sept. 30, 1982. In that report, a 72-year-old Heald said he only missed 10 rehearsals of the community band in 30 years.

“We didn’t have a big crowd sometimes, but we played and people were happy,” Heald told the Kennebec Journal. “When you do something you like, it isn’t hard work.”

Heald told the Kennebec Journal he learned to play by ear at the age 4, adding he did not take well to music lessons.

“I took a few when I was in the first grade,” Heald said, “but the teacher gave up on me.”

Heald also worked for 25 years at the Hallowell Shoe factory.

On Wednesday, Malley returned the plaque to City Hall. She said the plaque was recovered by George Bean, a member of the American Legion, who discovered the plaque a decade ago while working at a cemetery in Sidney.

Malley said said Bean could not recall the cemetery at which he found the plaque, and it took him 10 years to find out where the plaque belonged.

“He kept stepping on something he felt was funny,” Malley said. “He pushed dirt away and there it was.”

Malley said the plaque was returned to the Hallowell American Legion post about a year ago after Heald’s name was traced to the post.

The plaque was restored by Hallowell’s Masciadri Monuments before being returned to the city Wednesday.

It remains a mystery how the plaque ended up at a Sidney cemetery. Rodney Myrick, a former Hallowell police chief, said he remembered the dedication to Heald, who he called “a very nice man,” but he did not remember when the plaque was stolen.

Malley said the plaque must have been disposed off in the cemetery after the thief realized it might be difficult to sell, even though brass is relatively valuable.

The plaque’s backside shows indications of having been sawed from the surface to which it was attached.

After the plaque was stolen, a new one was placed on the metal fence on the west side of the bandstand.


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