Tag Archives: Willie Salmond

Willie Salmond’s Africa Mission

Willie Salmond is a minister, ordained by the Church of Scotland in his home country. He’s owned a house in Westport for 30 years.

But he’s spent most of his life in Africa.

There were 10 years in Ghana. Seventeen in Uganda. Three more in Zimbabwe.

Willie Salmond

Salmond worked in international development with farmers. Then he trained Peace Corps volunteers.

His life changed when he was sent to San Francisco, to learn about AIDS. He went back to a camp in Kampala, to run Uganda’s first testing and counseling through a USAID-funded program.

Salmond is retired now. He’s back in Westport, where — during his stints here — he helped coach his 2 daughters’ soccer teams. Now he’s a member of the Y’s Men.

But for 10 days last month, he made a very meaningful return to Uganda.

He met a man and woman who at age 14 had lived in his first AIDS camp. Today they lead their own program.

Recently, Salmond spoke at the Saugatuck Congregational Church. Some parishioners were surprised to learn how grateful Ugandans are for the United States’ $18 million support for antiretroviral drugs.

Learning together at an AIDS program in Uganda.

The program was begun by President George W. Bush. It was reauthorized by President Obama. It continues under President Trump.

Salmond hopes it will keep going — though no one is sure. Stopping it, he says, would be “catastrophic. Many lives have been saved. Young people are assured a healthy future.”

There is a lot in the news these days about taxes, Salmond says. He believes firmly that this program is money well spent.

Very few Americans hear about programs like this. He would like at least his fellow Westporters to know about it.

This Old Boiler

All around Westport, homeowners proudly display plaques bearing the dates their houses were built: 1884. 1720. 1683.

(Others, of course, proudly display the many gables and great rooms of the homes they’ve built to replace those historic ones. But that’s a different story.)

There’s a lot going on inside old homes too. Yesterday, Gault honored Westport’s oldest boiler.

It’s fitting. The company — recently renamed Gault Energy & Home Solutions —  is the oldest business in Westport. By several decades.

Gault was already 57 years old — just a little younger than Mitchells of Westport is now — in 1920, when workers installed a coal-fueled heating unit for the Abbott family.

The 96-year-old boiler in the Salmonds' basement.

The 96-year-old boiler in the Salmonds’ basement.

The Dutch colonial on St. John Place has been renovated several times since Woodrow Wilson was president. But the boiler was the same.

This week, company president Sam Gault presented homeowners Willie and Anne Salmond — a retired couple — with a state-of-the-art new one. It’s quite a 45th wedding anniversary gift: The value is $11,000 (including installation).

(And it came not a moment too soon. Sleet fell yesterday, on the coldest day of the fall.)

Sam Gault (right), president of Gault Energy & Home Solutions, delivered a new state-of-the-art Energy Kinetics System 2000 boiler to Willie and Anne Salmond.

Sam Gault (right), president of Gault Energy & Home Solutions, delivered a new state-of-the-art Energy Kinetics System 2000 boiler to Anne and Willie Salmond yesterday.

The Salmonds — who moved here in 1984, when Gault was just 121 years young — have an interesting story themselves. They raised 3 children in Westport, but also traveled extensively for work. Among other things, he served in Uganda with an HIV/AIDS prevention program, while she did foundation work in India.

Both are members of the Saugatuck Congregational Church. He’s recently taken on preaching assignments there, and at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Willie is from Scotland. Anne is from Northern Ireland. Both grew up in homes where heat was a luxury. In fact, coal was used in bedrooms only if someone was sick.

As a New England winter nears, the heat is welcome — especially since Anne has arthritis.

Gault's new logo (and name).

They thanked Gault for its generosity, noting that since retirement they wanted to spend their money on what Anne calls “things you can see. We ignored the old dinosaur in our basement.” Now, they’re inspired to take on other domestic  projects.

Here’s one final twist: The original owners of the Salmonds’ house — the Abbotts –are related to the Gaults through marriage.

How’s that for a heart-“warming” story?