Published: October 3, 2023
Auctions were a way of life for auctioneer Richard Eugene Wacht, who passed away peacefully on September 27, 2023, at the age of 79.
Richard, a second-generation auctioneer, took over from his father, John G. Wacht, in the mid-1980s. John Wacht had been one of the first auction galleries to advertise with the Antiques and The Arts Weekly when it began publishing its weekly antiques newspaper in 1963, a practice that Richard Wacht continued until he retired in 2019 giving the Canton Barn a constant presence in “The Bee” for more than 50 years.
Born, raised and having lived most of his life in Canton, Conn., on the Old Canton Road property, Richard had relocated to New Hartford, Conn., earlier this year.
A Connecticut Yankee with a cantankerous personality, Richard was best known as the cowboy boot & blue jean wearing auctioneer at the Canton Barn auction gallery for more than four decades. He grew up in the family antiques auction business tumbling furniture and driving the farm truck in his early teens.
A Vietnam veteran, Richard was drafted in 1965, just less than 30 days before the draft wouldn’t have affected him. He did his tour of duty under General Barrows and was only too happy to surrender his guns when he returned home with his Honorable Discharge in 1967.
After serving his country in the army, he returned to his Canton home where he had been born, converting the 1880s cow barn into an auction gallery. He followed his father, John, into the auction business taking over for him in the late 1970s.
Folks traveled from all over the country to attend the weekly Canton Barn auctions with its stellar reputation and homemade pies. Richard’s knowledge of antiques was sought-after by many. He mentored many an antiques dealer, shared his knowledge with auction attendees, and was an expert witness for the state of Connecticut regarding antiques. In 1982 Richard was named New England Auctioneer of the Year in the first year of the awards’ inception.
Richard and his father auctioned some unique items back in the day that included Samuel Clemens out-house, a large pile of manure on a farm and a historic innkeeper’s tavern sign dated 1776 with the Tory Lion on one side and the American Eagle on the other. Richard discovered hidden gambling rooms in houses and auctioned off a General’s Civil War sword during a power outage. He was filled with “bits of useless information” and was always in his element when retelling the stories of his unusual experiences. Richard retired from the auction business in the summer of 2019 after more than 40 years.
Richard’s younger days were filled with traveling, racing “outlaw” cars and drinking Johnny Walker Black. Even with the demanding schedule of holding weekly auctions, he had still managed to travel the world where friends were made, good meals were enjoyed, and the promise of tomorrow danced on the wind. And he could “cut a rug” with the best as evidenced not too long ago at his niece Robyn’s wedding.
Richard always had a deep love for cats. Tales of Pumpkin, Brownie, Marmalade and Tiger delighted and amused auction attendees and fellow pet lovers over the decades with Tiger being his constant companion for the last 13 years.
Beside his beloved cat, Tiger, Richard leaves behind his dear friend and business partner, Susan Goralski; five nieces: Jocelyn Canterbury-Hall, Robyn Meo-Henry, Morgan Tufarolo, BreeAnna Melechinsky and Kimberly Melechinsky; and two nephews: Timothy Melechinsky and Colin Britton. Richard is predeceased by his parents: John George Wacht and Anne Napey Wacht and a sister, Joanne Wacht Delphino.
As per his wishes, there will be no calling hours and no funeral services. In Richard’s closing words at the end of each and every auction, “Thank you for coming. Drive safely. Goodnight.”
Messages may be sent to the following email address: email@example.com or mailed to Susan Goralski at PO Box 1019, New Hartford, CT 06057. Memorial donations may be made to the Smilow Cancer Center (Yale New Haven Health/Yale Cancer Center) in Torrington, Conn.
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