Merelene M. Wagner
Merelene M. Wagner, 78, of Newport, died on August 17, 2021, in Newport.
She was born on November 20, 1942, in Newport to Reuben and Viola (Daniels) Draper. She married Donald Howard Cheney who predeceased her on February 6, 1965. She later married James Wagner who predeceased her in 1992.
Mrs. Wagner was employed by the Home Health Agency as a caregiver to many people in the area. She also worked with her late husband at the Wagner farm in Lowell, and she worked for the family-owned Draper’s General Store in Lowell and the Lowell General Store.
Among her many hobbies, she enjoyed bowling, playing cards, cribbage, poker, bingo, and loved going to casinos, yard sales, cookouts, and family gatherings. She loved her family.
She is survived by her daughters: Heidi Blais and her husband, Shawn, of Otis Orchards, Washington, and Dawn Cheney and life partner, Mitchell Brousseau, of Newport Center. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Kendra Shedd of Barre, Hannah Shedd and partner Duffer Heath of Newport, Kendall Shedd Jr. of Otis Orchards, Matthew Brousseau of Morgan, Kelley Brousseau of Newport, Kari Brousseau and partner, Dan Daggett, of Newport. She is also survived by her great-grandchildren: Preston, Ashton, Braxton, Avilon, Colton, Maddon (Maddog), and Kallan Shedd, and Jaden Gendreau.
She is also survived by her card playing buddies: Joyce, Diane, Claudette, Denise, and Faith.
She was predeceased by her brother Reginald Draper in 1996.
Services are private.
Online condolences at curtis-britch.com.
Marianne A. Nicol
Marianne A. (Laflamme) Nicol, 91, of East Kingston, New Hampshire, formerly of Amesbury, Massachusetts, beloved mother and Memere, died peacefully on August 17, 2021, at the home of her daughter with her family by her side.
Marianne was born the third of seven children to Francois and Alice (Cote) Laflamme on December 31,1929. She was a lifelong resident of Amesbury, attending Sacred Heart School and graduating from Amesbury High School in 1949. After graduation, Marianne worked at the Electric Light Company where she established many cherished and meaningful lifelong friendships. In 1953, Marianne married J.R. Rene Nicol and together they embarked on his military career and began raising a family. She often shared her memories of living in England during this time and traveling the countryside with her young family, saying that these were some of her best years. Upon returning home to Amesbury, Marianne was involved with real estate which enhanced her ability to enter the financial banking market at Franco American Credit Union where she began as a bank teller in 1970. Marianne was promoted to assistant manager and loan officer in 1976, rising to the position of bank manager shortly thereafter. She loved serving the people of Amesbury, a community which embodied her strong work ethic and caring for others. Marianne will be remembered for her kindness, along with her professionalism, classic style, and impeccable taste. Marianne was loved by all and will be truly missed.
Her family would like to thank Compassus Hospice for allowing them the time, during her final days, to embrace their mother with the love and laughter that she brought to life.
Marianne is survived by her children Roland Nicol and Shar Munson of Groton, Elaine and her husband, Bill Cashin, of Westmore, Marie Sue and her husband, Michael Connolly, of Windham, New Hampshire, Marianne and her husband, Michael Curry, of East Kingston, New Hampshire; her sisters Irene and her husband Pete Brouillette of Ipswich, Massachusetts, Suzanne and her husband, Richard Gonthier, of Newton, New Hampshire, Lucille and her husband, William Brady, of Foxboro, Massachusetts, and her brother Francios (Franky) Laflamme and his wife, Sherry, of Port Charlotte, Florida. Marianne is also survived by 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, along with many nieces and nephews.
Marianne was predeceased by her husband, U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant, retired, J.R. Rene Nicol; her son Roger F. Nicol; her parents Francois and Alice Laflamme of Amesbury, Massachusetts; her brothers: Gerard Laflamme, Sr. of Haverhill, Massachusetts, Laurent Laflamme and his wife, Doris, of Manchester, New Hampshire; her grandsons: Army Ranger Sergeant Andrew C. Nicol, and Norman R. Woolard.
Florence M. LeBaron
Florence M. LeBaron, 90, of Derby, died on August 18, 2021 in Newport.
She was born on November 7, 1930, in Newark, to the late Peter and Florence (Cross) Sabastion. On June 24, 1950, she married Edison LeBaron who predeceased her in 1997.
Florence loved visiting and entertaining with friends and family, and she enjoyed camping, and her cat Sasha. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Ladies Social Union of the Derby Church, and also attended the Derby Church.
She is survived by her sons: Gary LeBaron, and Scott LeBaron both of Derby. She is also survived by her grandson Dominic LeBaron and his wife, Sara; and great-grandson Paxton LeBaron of Seattle, Washington. She was also predeceased by her sisters: Laura Rodgers and Violet Carr.
She is survived by her nephew Rocky and his wife, Charlotte, and by cousins.
Friends may call from 1 p.m. until the hour of the service at 2 p.m. on Friday, August 27, 2021, at the Curtis-Britch and Bouffard Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Newport with Dr. Fred and Caroline Barker officiating. Interment to follow at Derby Center Cemetery.
Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the Derby Community Church, P.O. Box 294, Derby, Vermont 05829.
Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.
Simone R. Fortin
Simone R. Fortin, 89, of Holland, died on August 17, 2021, in Newport.
She was born on April 28, 1932, in Lowell, to Clarence and Annie (Guay) Piette.
On June 7, 1952, she married Lionel Fortin who predeceased her on June 8, 2016.
Simone was a helpmate to her late husband on their dairy farm in Holland. She loved her family, gardening, and working with farm animals.
She is survived by her children: Michael Fortin and his wife, Debbie, of Holland, Lorraine Pink and her husband, Fred, of Texas, and Armand Fortin of Berlin, New Mexico.
She is survived by five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren, by many foster children who loved her as a mom, and by many nieces and nephews.
She is also survived by two sisters: Theresa of Newport, Washington, and Priscilla Fortin of Newport. She was predeceased by her siblings: Marcel Piette, Sylva Piette, Germaine Fontaine, Rena Letourneau, and Bertha Royer.
A celebration of her life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 28, at the Church of God on Crawford Road in Derby. Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the United Christian Academy, 65 School Street, Newport, Vermont 05855.
Online condolences at curtis-britch.com.
Marilyn Alda Forbes
Marilyn Alda Forbes, of Westfield, died at the age of 93 on August 21, 2021, at North Country Hospital in Newport.
Marilyn, also known as Gram by many who knew her, was born on October 20, 1927. She lived most of her life in Newport Center.
After raising five children, Marilyn earned her practical nursing degree and worked for many years in the medical field where she cared for others. Her last job came about when she wanted to help her grandson Greg Bliss with his first Hoagie’s Pizza and Pasta restaurant. Working at Hoagie’s provided many years of enjoyment for Gram and those who had the pleasure of working alongside her.
Marilyn was known for her sense of humor, giving heart, and the positivity she could find in all situations. She loved her little slice of heaven in the woods. Although the front porch will seem a little empty without her presence, she has left behind a happy gathering place for family and friends.
Marilyn is preceded in death by her parents Benjamin and Alda Spaulding, brothers Florin, Dean, and Harold Spaulding, and sister Zelpha Robinson. Marilyn’s daughter Betty Forbes Maynard also preceded her. She leaves behind children: Gail Jensen and husband, Jim (League City, Texas), Lee Forbes and wife, Diane (Troy), Larry Forbes (Westfield), and Mark Forbes and wife, Theresa (Newport Center).
Gram’s true passion in life was always her family. The moments she cherished the most were visits from her children, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. At Gram’s house, you were likely greeted with a “Hey hun,” a hug, and a golfcart ride. She leaves behind beautiful memories with her grandchildren: Jimmy Jensen, Kevin Lavorgna, Jeremy Jensen, Jamie Jensen Rogers, Doug Bliss, Greg Bliss, Jessica Forbes Rondeau, Ben Forbes, Aaron Forbes, Laurie Forbes, Amy Forbes Ashline, Dana Forbes, and Angie Forbes Smith; and 25 great-grandchildren.
Marilyn wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread on cool, green grass under the light of a full moon. So, when you see a full moon, think of Gram and remember her wonderful smile.
Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.
Elka Leigh Scott Schumann
Elka Leigh Scott Schumann, 85, singer, recorder player, printer, wife, mother, grandmother, and co-founder of the Bread and Puppet Theater, died August 1, 2021, at North Country Hospital in Newport surrounded by her five children and her husband.
Elka was born August 29, 1935, in Magnitogorsk, Russia (then USSR), daughter of Maria Dikareva Ivanovna Scott and John Scott.
Her father, as a young radical, learned welding and went to the USSR to support Stalin’s enterprise in building the Magnitogorsk steel mill. He later became a journalist and writer. Her mother was a daughter of peasants who moved to Magnitogorsk to support the revolution. She taught mathematics in Magnitogorsk.
Elka spent her childhood in the Soviet Union, New York, and Berlin, Germany, before her parents settled in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1948.
Her first language was Russian, and she maintained a lifelong connection to her Russian relatives and heritage.
Elka was strongly influenced by her grandfather, Scott Nearing, a leftist economist and homesteading guru, best known for his 1970 book Living the Good Life. Scott’s critique of war and capitalism, as well as his commitment to growing food organically and living life simply and in resistance to industrial consumerist society, were things Elka carried with her throughout her whole life.
Elka graduated from the Putney School 1953. She got a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Bryn Mawr College in 1958, and her master’s in Russian language from Windham College in Putney in 1964.
In 1959, she married Peter Bernt Friederich Schumann, whom she met in 1955 during her junior year abroad in Munich, Germany.
Elka was recruited off the streets for Peter’s dance company by his best friend, Dieter Staroski. Dieter brought her to visit Peter in the hospital where he was recovering from a bike accident. It was love at first sight.
The couple lived in Germany for a couple of years where their first two children, Tamar and Salih (then Ephraim) were born. In 1961 they moved to the U.S. where they lived for a short time with Elka’s parents in Ridgefield before moving to the Lower East Side of New York City.
There Solveig, Max, and Maria were born.
The family lived in a tiny railroad apartment on the sixth floor of a tenement building, with a bathtub in the kitchen and a shared bathroom in the hall.
Elka took care of the children, practiced yoga, was involved in peace activities with the War Resisters League, and attended Women’s Liberation meetings. She also regularly took her children to the museums of the city and talked to them about the art they saw.
She started a practice of reading aloud to the family every night, which she continued well into the 1970s, reading Dickens, Tolstoy, and many other classics of literature.
In 1970 the Bread and Puppet Theater was invited to be theater in residence at Goddard College, and the family moved to Cate Farm in Plainfield.
The family moved to Glover in 1974. She set to work cleaning out the old Dopp dairy barn and turning it into a puppet museum. She was deeply interested in the history of the farm, and made regular visits with Daisy Sherburne Dopp, the former owner, and edited and published a book of Daisy’s stories about the farm.
Elka had a beautiful vegetable and flower garden, a huge elderberry patch, and raised pigs, sheep, chickens, geese, and turkeys for home use. When she was younger, she spun, dyed, and knit wool from her sheep, made beautiful cedar bark baskets, and sewed all her own clothes. She managed a 1,000-tap sugaring operation with her children and husband, and every fall pressed and canned gallons of cider.
She also set up a shop where she printed and painted Peter’s woodcuts. Her print shop in time became a mainstay of the theater.
Elka cooked meals for Bread and Puppet volunteers, booked tours, gave museum tours, made children’s puppet shows, did publicity for the theater — writing every press release for decades, making flyers, and driving all over the state to hang them up.
She designed the annual calendar for the press, ran the finances, did theater correspondence, cleaned the museum, ran the museum store, organized volunteers, especially for printing, was a fierce protector of the land, went to town meetings, and maintained good relationships with many local neighbors.
Elka loved singing, cooking, gladiolas, spending time with her children and grandchildren, reading the Sunday New York Times, working in her garden, going for early morning swims at Shadow Lake, sharing a morning coffee with her husband, staying up late and making jam, and organizing papers, and playing her recorder. She was a fabulous cook, and generous host, known for her “akroshka,” a Russian cold beet soup, her rhubarb ginger crisp, and her blue cheese bread spread.
She maintained correspondence with many people, but never used email, preferring ink and paper. She wrote letters to her children, grandchildren, young puppeteers, old puppeteers, prisoners, people who ordered posters and banners from the Bread and Puppet printshop, and other friends, relatives, and strangers. Her correspondence flowed over her kitchen table, and every meal began with a reorganization of papers.
She loved singing, and shared and taught songs to her children and the many hundreds of people who came through Bread and Puppet farm over the decades. Shape note hymns, rounds, ballads, Russian political songs, spirituals, Balkan folk songs, and German Christmas carols were among her favorites. She instituted weekly shape note sings held in the “Paper Mache Cathedral” at the Bread and Puppet farm Tuesday nights every summer for decades. She attended every outdoor sing this summer.
She is survived by her husband, Peter Schumann, of Glover; her children: Tamar Schumann of Glover, Salih Schumann of Glover, Solveig Schumann of Brooklyn, New York, Max Schumann of New York City, New York, and Maria Schumann of Greensboro; her grandchildren: Olive, Orlando, and Axel Brecht, Anselm Graham, and Ira Karp; her sister, Elena Whiteside of Atlanta, Georgia; and by many nieces and nephews.
Among her dear friends she was predeceased by Mabel and George Dennison of Temple, Maine, Bob Nichols and Grace Paley of Thetford, Vermont, Burt and Janet Porter of Glover, Kari McGowan of East Burke, and Poppy Gregory of Somerville, Massachusetts.
While her husband, Peter, was and is the driving creative force behind Bread and Puppet theater, Elka was the theater’s biggest fan and critic. As long as she was physically able, she would travel for miles to see the shows, take copious notes, and give Peter suggestions — sometimes heeded, sometimes ignored — on how to make the shows better.
Contributions in her memory can be made to the Glover Ambulance.
Mikayla LaMadeleine was born on August 31, 1998, to Paula and David LaMadeleine. She followed her eldest siblings, Miranda, and Devin, and was then followed by Derick.
She had many close friends and even a man that was like her brother, Justin Darling, who also died at about the same age just a few years ago. Now, they are together exploring the unknown, whatever it may be.
Mikayla acquired a second family working for Lavender Essentials of Vermont, and for her close friend Michele Capron. She was better known to them as Scarlet for her choice of red hair color. To be blunt, she never stopped talking about it to the rest of her family. It was genuinely where her heart thrived.
Adam Judd (Griz), said she had a “knack for figuring stuff out at the farm.” She always helped with the children there and with the animals. He and her other friend, Buffy Lawton, noted a quote from her: “Hurry Buff! There’s a chicken in the pig coup! We got to rescue it before the pigs eat it!” And so, they did. A simple and basic analogy which demonstrates Mikayla’s caring nature for animals.
She always made time after work for fun: kayaking, hiking, and laying in the hammock. She helped build a fishpond in the spring, and people at Lavender Essentials noted her incredible rock stacking skills. She was exceptional at making lavender wands which the rest struggled to make. Their motto was “Work hard, play harder.”
She wasn’t one for sappy talk, she liked to get to the point. One could say there are no words for this, or that she was the purest soul, but Mikayla would just roll her eyes and laugh in our faces. Her death on August 20, 2021, at just 22 years old came as a shock to her friends and family, and left them wondering exactly what happened and why.
She took chances and always went out on a limb. Even though her decisions were not always advisable, she’d give it a go and take it from there. She was a go-getter and took things as they came, but when things got too overwhelming, she felt like she had to make it stop. She was brave and put up a good front. She had to deal with the demons within, as we all do, but some people struggle more than others and cope in their own way.
Many people have stopped in at the family’s home, offering support and condolences. Many more have donated via the GoFundMe page, and in cash and check offerings, and her family and friends are so deeply grateful for the support which has been given to help finalize Mikayla’s eternal rest.
Mikayla leaves behind her parents: David and Paula LaMadeleine; and her siblings: Miranda and her husband, Josh Currier, and their children, Devin LaMadeleine and his fiancé, Kayla West, and their children, Samantha Corrow and her son, and her brother Derick LaMadeleine; her grandparents: Gaetane and Paul Stone Jr., Aline LaMadeleine, and Elaine LaMadeleine; her godfather and uncle, Alvin Stone; her aunt and uncle, Lucy and Steve Dobler; godmother, Lorianne Pion; her uncle, Adam LaMadeleine, and April Lapierre; her uncle and aunt, Danny and Tammy LaMadeleine; her aunt, Nicky LaMadeleine; and cousins: Emily, Faith, and Hope Dobler, Katie, Travis, and Andrew McClure, Braden and Celine, Tyler Norris, Alyssa and Dani LaMadeleine, and Cameron Norris; her godmother, Elizabeth Parker; and her family by heart, Michele Capron, Adam Judd (Griz), and Buffy Lawton; and an abundance of extended family.
Mikayla was predeceased by her brother by heart, Justin Darling; her grandfather Ronald LaMadeleine (TuTu); and her great-grandparents: Ruth and Paul Stone Sr., and Monique and Felix Roberge.
On the early morning of August 20, Mikayla took her own life. This brought great pain and sorrow to her family. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or anything else, there is help available. You aren’t alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
Crisis text line: Text “HELLO” to 741741.
The family has decided against a traditional service for her, as Mikayla wouldn’t have wanted that. Instead, there will be a celebration of life for her at The Blue Horizon at Guillette’s Shed located at 884 Salem Derby Road, Newport. People may start arriving at 2 p.m. and we will take time for people to share their memories of her at 4 p.m. Following that there will be a potluck dinner, and attendees should bring something special. The family welcomes anyone who wishes to pay their respects or offer condolences, or simply wants to celebrate her life with them.
In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to the Lake Region Union High School Scholarship Fund in Memory of Mikayla LaMadeleine.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.” — Robin Williams
Ann Preston Drennan
Ann Preston Drennan, age 87, died on August 19, 2021, at her beloved Craftsbury home, due to cancer.
She was born Ann Shelton Ewert June 17, 1934, to the late Peter Harry and Mazy (Higgins) Ewert in Burlington, where she grew up. Her father died when she was three. Her late stepfather George Lafayette Preston adopted her. Ann graduated from Burlington High School and the University of Vermont, working as a nurse’s aide for six years during this time. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She received her master’s in education from the University of Chicago where she completed the Ph.D. course work but not the dissertation.
She married Theodore Elsworth Hinckley with whom she had Jill Coleen Hinckley, now Jill Hinckley-Noble, and Dale Thomas Hinckley, now D. Thomas Hayes. She married the late Ralph William Hayes with whom she had William Ralph Hayes (deceased in infancy) and Benjamin Shelton Hayes. She was the widow of Henry Thomas Drennan. They were married for 29 years. For eight years after she was widowed, her much loved companion was the late Joseph Anthony Mangano of Berne, New York.
Ann worked as the assistant recorder at UVM and then for admissions and records, in addition to being a grader for the classics department. She was the administrative and reference librarian for the education library at the University of Chicago, and a research assistant in reading and in adult education. She studied adult development and aging under a U.S. Public Health Fellowship. While studying at the University of Chicago she led a citizen-organized medical unit to care for injured protestors during the 1968 Democratic Convention. She also worked briefly for the Public Opinion Research Center. Later, at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, she served as program evaluator for a 13-state federal adult basic education program in Appalachia with a focus on promoting adult literacy.
In 1974 she married Henry Drennan and moved to Washington, D.C., where she lived on Capitol Hill and held several contract positions with the U.S. Department of Education, Catholic University, and the World Bank. She also had temporary teaching positions at the University of Maryland and Wayne State. During this time, she personally taught several illiterate adults to read while serving as director of Adult Basic Education, and also sponsored, hosted, and resettled six refugees from wars in Southeast Asia. She also once saved the life of a man who had been stabbed in a bar fight.
In 1982 she returned to Vermont and spent two years teaching fifth and sixth grade in a one-room elementary school in Walden, before joining the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1985. She retired from the INS after 25 years of service at Derby, North Troy, Beebe Plain, and other border crossing stations. She once apprehended four suspected terrorists single-handedly in the middle of the night and, although holding strong anti-gun views, qualified on a pistol range every six months handily. She prided herself on being fair and knowing the rights of immigrants and refugees.
She loved to travel and made visits to Europe, Central America, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and all but a handful of U.S. states. She also rescued more than 20 stray or unwanted dogs and cats during her lifetime.
She is survived by her children: Jill Hinckley-Noble, D. Thomas Hayes, and Benjamin Hayes; grandchildren: Flower Noble, Ezra Noble, Mazy Hayes, Emily Hayes, A. Thomas Hayes, and Caroline Hayes; and great-granddaughter, Sula Noble Demers. Additionally, she is survived by her foster children: Dan Hsu, Pasit Hsu, and Samsonite Hsu of Laos, and Tuyet Nguyen and Kiet Le Nguyen of Vietnam. She is also survived by many foster grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and was predeceased by her foster child, John Rahn.
Ann will be buried beside her mother, adoptive father, husband, Henry Drennan, and infant son, William, in the Lake View Cemetery in Burlington on Saturday, August 28 at 11 a.m.
Memories and condolences may be conveyed to Ann’s family at dgfunerals.com.
Doreen Cleveland, longtime resident of Orleans, died on August 10, 2021, with her daughters by her side.
Doreen grew up in the Orleans/Westmore area, where she began waitressing at a young age. There were many stories of the young people working hard together around Willoughby Lake, and then dancing the nights away after work. Doreen was undoubtedly right in the midst of the fun. She continued waitressing in local restaurants for many years. She always joked about wishing she knew how many miles her legs had walked over the years.
She married her sweetheart, Alvah Perkins in 1956. They went on to build a family, sharing their love with two daughters, Rhonda (Reisman) and Roxanne (Bedard). Doreen confidently helped raise them, and assisted in Alvah’s bulldozing business, as well as created her own immensely successful business, Perky’s Pet Shop. Her pet shop meant the world to her. Even after selling her business to the Pick and Shovel in an attempt to “slow down,” Doreen continued to work many hours hoping to ensure the success of the business. She absolutely loved the animals and working with the public.
Doreen’s first husband, Alvah, predeceased her in 1982, and she later married Ernest Cleveland. Together with Ernie, Doreen was able to enjoy a bit of traveling, building a camp on Daniels Pond, and cheering Ernie on at the tractor pulls, along with many, many other fun escapades with family and friends. Ernie’s caring soul brought Doreen such joy and comfort in her later years, and her heart was so saddened when he passed in April.
Doreen cherished the holidays, especially Christmas. Her festively decorated home was often filled with family, friends, and an endless supply of delicious food. She effortlessly created lasting memories and family traditions which have been passed on to her children and grandchildren. Her collection of holiday greeting cards was massive, but her joy of sending them was even larger.
Doreen lived a stoic life, always seeming to quietly rise above whatever life handed her. She died with that same, strong willed demeanor. Doreen will be sadly missed, but forever cherished by her two daughters: Rhonda Reisman and her husband, Dave, and Roxanne Bedard and her husband, Andrew; grandchildren: Zachary Twombly, Saige Twombly, Sarah Bedard and her partner, Taylor Douglass; her brother Francis Simons and his wife, Betty; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Larry and Judy Perkins, Earle and Avis Elliott; Harvey Cleveland; and Doreen’s incredibly special friend and cohort Kimberly Brooks; along with lots of extended family, lifelong neighbors, and friends, as well as new acquaintances who have had such a wonderful impact on her life.
Doreen requested no services, but would certainly smile if anyone chose to remember her life by helping to care for animals by donating to the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter at 4473 Barton Orleans Road, Orleans, Vermont 05860, or to a rescue of one’s choice.
Online condolences are available by visiting awrfh.com.
Claude B. Blais
Claude B. Blais, 68, of Killington, a restauranteur and bon vivant, died of pancreatic cancer on August 22, 2021.
Claude was born in Newport, the third child of Benoit and Floride Blais. He grew up in the family home in Derby Line, traveling by bus during the school year to attend the Sacred Heart parochial schools in Newport. He graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1971. Claude joyously attended his fiftieth-class reunion the week before he died.
Following high school, he continued his formal education at the University of Vermont for two years before transferring to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, where his love of the culinary arts found fertile ground. After graduation from CIA, Claude plied his profession in kitchens in the Adirondacks, Alaska, San Francisco, and San Diego until his love of Vermont drew him to Killington.
Claude worked for a few years in the kitchen of the now-defunct Alpine Inn, and then he ventured out to own and operate Claude’s Choices Restaurant, an eatery which flourished in Killington for more than thirty years. While Claude enjoyed and cherished all of the customers of his chef-operated restaurant, he was especially proud of the devoted following of “locals.” He was always a woodchuck-at-heart.
He often remarked, yet never bemoaned, that he was married to the restaurant, hence he leaves no surviving spouse. He was pre-deceased by both of his parents, and is survived by brother Maurice and his wife, Deborah, of San Diego, California; brother Norman and his partner, Dawn, of Shelburne, Vermont; and sister Lena and her husband, Larry, of Jacksonville, Florida.
Claude was the favorite uncle to Wendi, Kyle, Jessica, and David. He also leaves innumerable aunts, uncles, and cousins who are interspersed throughout the United States and Canada.
Claude’s amazingly rich and loyal family extends far beyond his blood relatives to include current and former Choice’s staff and patrons, fellow restaurant owners, and the denizens of Wobbly Lane and its environs.
Claude was blessed with a wide and varied circle of friends, many of whom took special care during the last year and a half of his life to assist him during the difficulties that attended his illness. Despite the debilitating effects of his condition, Claude never surrendered his infectious good spirits and winning smile to the cancer. He was a mentor to many and a friend to all.
A memorial service to commemorate Claude’s life will be held on August 30 at 11 a.m. at the Summit Lodge and Resort in Killington. In lieu of flowers, it was Claude’s desire that his friends consider donations to the Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice of the Southwest Region or the Rutland County Humane Society.
Kathleen Van Sant
Kathleen Van Sant died on July 29, 2021. A graveside service will be held on August 28 at 11 a.m. at the Lakeview Cemetery in Westmore. Following the service there will be a time of fellowship and refreshments at the Lyndonville First Congregational Church in Lyndonville. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome.