Richard E. Wacht, long-time Canton Barn auctioneer, passes
By John Fitts
"Thank you for coming. Drive safely. Goodnight."
Richard Eugene Wacht ended the weekly auctions at the Canton Barn with those words. The phrase became more poignant upon the last auction in July of 2019 and is now even more so upon his death the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 27 at age 79.
“He was a true Connecticut Yankee with a wry sense of humor, sparkling blue eyes and a heart of gold,” said Susan (Wacht) Goralski, Richard’s ex-wife, long-time business partner and close friend.
A Vietnam veteran, Richard returned home to Canton in 1967 and converted the 1880s cow barn at 75 Old Canton Road into an auction gallery and followed his father, John G. Wacht into that business, which started circa 1950. Canton Barn auctions became a tradition in Canton and the venue was a national destination. Attendees appreciated the rustic décor and quality items - as well as Richard’s wild stage antics and stories, including tales about his beloved cats.
“Auctions were his way of life and he loved that life,” Goralski said.
The glorious pies, a tradition started by Richard’s mother Anne Napey Wacht and carried on by Goralski, were at least as popular as the auctions items.
Goralski noted that Richard was a great mentor to both those in the antique and auction business and countless enthusiasts.
Canton Barn held its last auction in July of 2019 and a liquidation sale that October.
He passed away peacefully after a 5-month battle with cancer, Goralski said.
She added that Richard had a host of caregivers for whom she was grateful - "from the Visiting Nurse Association of Litchfield County (Karen, Jen & Leslie), to the fantastic folks at the Smilow Cancer Center in Torrington, to the wonderful doctors and nurses at both UConn and Charlotte Hungerford hospitals."
"I always promised him I would be here if this day came...that he wouldn't be alone," Goralski said. "It was my privilege to be at his bedside this morning when he took his final breath. He will always be a part of me and the Canton Barn lives on in my home and in my heart."
As Richard's obit notes, There will be no calling hours or funeral services but a celebratory gathering will take place at a future date for friends and colleagues to reminisce. Messages may be sent to the following email address: CantonBarn@gmail.com or mailed to Susan Goralski at P.O.Box 1019, New Hartford, CT 06057. Memorial donations may be made to the Smilow Cancer Center in Torrington, CT. “
Read his obituary here.