Charles Cavan Meese, 57, known to all as “Chuck,” died suddenly on May 20, 2012, at his home in West Glover.
His death was caused by complications related to his diabetes.
Mr. Meese was born on January 18, 1955, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was the second child and only son of Nelson and Rose Meese. He spent his early childhood in suburban Harrisburg, near the Susquehana River, where he learned to fish with his dad. When he was 11, the family moved to Warner Robins, Georgia.
Mr. Meese graduated from Warner Robins High School in 1972, where he was senior class president and active in the high school debate team. He attended Valdosta State College in Valdosta, Georgia, on a debate scholarship. During 1976 to 1977, he attended San José State University in San José, California, where he studied children’s theater. After his return to Georgia, he co-founded Nacoochee Scrap Theater, based near beautiful Lake Burton in the mountains of northeast Georgia.
He moved to Vermont in 1986. He quickly began to make his mark as an accomplished musician, actor, and puppeteer in the state’s artistic community. Performances eventually numbered in the thousands. Mr. Meese has performed with all of his three sons, first with Cavan and Noah, as Chuck Meese and Sons, beginning in 1984, and later with Jan, who from an early age began playing a variety of string instruments beside his father.
In 1994, Mr. Meese co-founded Red Wing Puppet Theater, which traveled widely throughout Vermont and New England, bringing original puppet shows and musical virtuosity to schools, libraries, and community theaters.
He will be remembered by many as the guitar playing, joke-cracking, master of the theater at The Vermont Governor’s Institute on the Arts, a summer program for Vermont teenagers, where he has served as faculty for over 20 years. He had great love for this project in particular and the many people, young and old, that he was able to teach and learn from.
Mr. Meese performed in the Bread and Puppet Theater’s Domestic Resurrection Circuses from 1979 to 1998, and he toured extensively with Bread and Puppet during the mid-80s and early 90s. From 1994 until 1996, he was technical director of the Fine Arts Center at Castleton State College. He has also performed with Sara Peattie’s Puppet Coop for many years.
Many other Vermont groups and organizations have benefited from Mr. Meese’s talents. Over the years he has performed with the Vermont Stage Co., as Still Friends with Geof Hewitt and Dennis Murphy, and with the Vermont Young Playwrights Project, with whom he also taught hundreds of playwriting workshops in elementary and high schools throughout the state.
He is survived by his three beloved sons: Cavan Meese, 34, of West Glover, Noah Meese, 31, of Waterbury, and Jan Meese, 16, of Brookline, Massachusetts. He is also survived by his only sister, Anne Pacosa, and her husband, John, of Warner Robins, Georgia; his nephew Josh Pacosa, and his wife, Sarah, of Asheville, North Carolina; and by many friends who were like family to him.
Mr. Meese was active, enthusiastic, and prolific until his untimely death. He will be greatly missed.
A memorial service was held on May 27 in Calais. Please watch for an announcement this summer of an event to further celebrate his life.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chuck Meese Memorial Fund, a fund established to support Jan in furthering his education. Donations may be sent to Chuck Meese Memorial Fund, TD Bank, 424 Main Street, Barton, Vermont 05822.
Chuck Meese in eight acts
by Joseph Gresser
Chuck Meese was a consummate showman. His satisfaction came from building a performance that worked for its audience, rather than looking for applause for himself.
He did whatever was necessary to make a show work, whether that meant running lights, coaching other performers or taking the stage himself.
Chuck was a superb guitarist, but he never played to show off. He knew that sometimes plunking a single string and then staring down the audience would get more of an effect than playing a dazzling passage.
Chuck and his first wife, Stephan, ran a theater in Georgia, and with their two children Cavan and Noah, came to Vermont to visit, and then joined the Bread and Puppet Theater.
Their theater mixed puppetry, music and stilt dancing, among other styles, so they were a perfect fit.
Chuck adored Cavan and Noah, and when he came along, Jan. He created acts for them when they were very young and continued to perform with them whenever he could. All three are exceptional performers, although Noah retired early from the stage.
Even though his long hair and scraggly beard hid most of it, Chuck’s face was extraordinarily expressive. He had piercing eyes and used them well in his show. When he worked with a partner, such as his good friend, the poet Geof Hewitt, he would gaze raptly as if to demand that the audience share his admiration.
Other times his gaze, coupled with a sardonic smile, sharpened a joke. He had a long-running gig playing and singing at a Montpelier dive called Charlie O’s. Chuck once told me of his satisfaction with the reception he got there by singing the Sacred Harp song, “Idumea.”
He’d sing the line describing “a land of deepest shade, unpierced by human thought,” and slowly look around the dimly lit room. It always brought the house down, Chuck said.
Chuck was easy going and, in general, great fun to tour with. But everyone who ever went out on the road with him knows that he had one crotchet. He insisted that it was uncool to be seen after a show in the Bread and Puppet’s white stage outfit.
As soon as a show ended, Chuck disappeared and changed into his street clothes. Now, by no stretch of the imagination was Chuck a Beau Brummell. But somehow it always took him exactly as long to get dressed as it took everyone else to strike the show and pack it onto the bus.
Chuck would then show up, look around with satisfaction and say, “Let’s go back to the hotel and watch the crap out of the TV.” Of course, he didn’t say crap.
A small quirk like that was easy to tolerate because Chuck was really generous with his time and talent. At one point, when the company really was in desperate need of a bass drummer, he undertook to tutor me.
Chuck played the snare drum in the Bread and Puppet band. He wore a civil war style drum fitted with a little high hat, that he wore slung off his hip and rocked with an offhand air.
He very patiently explained the basic duties of a bass drummer, and played his snare as I tried to follow his instructions. We played together a few times, until he found someone competent to take my place.
When we did play, I would look over at him to see his eyes fixed on me with a look of intense pity.
Chuck wasn’t afraid of simplicity. With Shelley Valfer, another of his close friends, he put together a little show extolling the virtues of wooden as opposed to plastic cutting boards.
The show was punctuated by the singing of a little ditty: “Plastic or wood? Plastic or wood? Plastic is bad. Wood is good.”
I know someone who saw that show as a child and still sings that tune often.
The company traveled to Brazil in 1994. On that trip a bunch of us took a bus ride across the expanse of Sao Paulo to visit a friend who lived in that city.
Chuck had his guitar, and a couple of guys from Sao Paulo figured out he was from the U.S. and began pestering him to play them some Elvis Presley tunes. Chuck obliged and we drove through the darkened streets of Sao Paulo listening to Chuck’s custom jukebox.
It was on that trip that Chuck met Graciela, who he soon married. Their son Jan started playing professionally before he reached his teens, and gravitated to many of the same tunes Chuck played through that Brazilian evening.
I ran into Chuck one day in St. Johnsbury just before the start of a street show. He was painting a ping-pong ball with rubber cement. He didn’t explain, but smiled when I asked what he was up to.
Soon he was surrounded by a crowd of children and their parents. He sang, performed with his puppets, and in general kept the crowd firmly in the palm of his hand.
Toward the end of the show he took out the ball and threw it high into the air and caught it on the end of his nose. With his arms held out he made a big show of balancing it and when the crowd roared its approval he bowed deeply.
The ball stayed firmly in place, stuck to the rubber cement with which he had coated his nose.
I walked away thinking that it was a clever trick. I was a couple of blocks away before I realized that getting the ball to land on his nose really was a trick.
Chuck was willing to hide what must have been days of practice, just to get the laugh.
It was probably possible to dislike Chuck, but it would have taken effort. I never met anyone willing to work that hard.
It was much, much easier to love him.
Clifton C. Cargill, 81, beloved husband of Mary Cargill of Derby, died on May 24, 2012, in Newport.
He was born on March 22, 1931, in Newport, a son of Clifton E. and Mary S. (Shasteny) Cargill. On June 11, 1955, he married Mary Brainard who survives him.
Mr. Cargill served in the U.S. Army and was a veteran of the Korean War. Mr. Cargill enjoyed camping, playing baseball and bocce, woodworking, tinkering, and attending his daughter’s softball games.
Mr. Cargill was known for being a handyman. He was a former member of the Morgan Center baseball team and the “Old Timers’ League” in Newport.
He is survived by his wife Mary Cargill of Derby; five children: Debbie Gendreau and her husband, Steve, of Derby, Michael Cargill of Lyndonville, Clifton John Cargill and his wife, Penny, of West Charleston, Sarah Anne Cargill Donovan and her husband, Jim, of Newport Center, and Casey Cargill of Derby; five grandchildren: David Gendreau, Anne Bouchard and her husband, Nick, Jessica Maxwell and her husband, Eric, Casey “CJ” Cargill, and Hunter Cargill; five great-grandchildren: Ben and Bria Bouchard, Harlee Hannux, Jaden Gendreau, and Mackenzie Maxwell; a brother-in-law, John Brainard of Kentucky; a sister-in-law, Virginia Lepporoli, of Dummerston; an uncle, Lyle Cargill, and his wife, Edith, of Derby; and by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by a daughter, Mary Beth Cargill.
A graveside service was held on May 29 at the Derby Center Cemetery in Derby.
Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, Vermont Division, Inc., 55 Day Lane, Williston, Vermont 05495; or to the Derby Line Ambulance, care of Brian Fletcher, P.O. Box 105, Derby Line, Vermont 05830.
Online condolences may be sent to the family through the funeral home website at www.curtis-britch-converse-rushford.com.
Gordon Gerald Harlow, 78, longtime resident of Essex, died unexpectedly on May 6, 2012, while on vacation in Florida with his wife and best friend, Jenny.
Mr. Harlow was born on March 2, 1934, in Irasburg, the son of the late Gerald Arthur Harlow and Madeline Rose Philips.
He graduated from Orleans High School in 1952, and was presently serving as vice-president of his sixtieth reunion committee.
Quiet and strong in every role of his life — son, nephew, grandson, brother, husband, father, grandfather, friend — these are the qualities we remember most. His legacy is his wry smile, his integrity, his love of golf, dancing, baseball and fishing. He serviced his country in the U.S. Air Force from 1956 to 1960. He was instrumental in laying out the runway at Edwards Air Force Base that was used for the B-52 and then ultimately as a landing site for the Space Shuttle. His proudest moment in the service was pitching for the Air Force baseball team in a championship game in Hawaii. He was a perfectionist, but in an endearing way. We will miss his way of doing things, and his filing and keeping records and finding just the right box for whatever you needed; there is love in order.
He retired from Pizzagalli Construction Company. He was proud of his 25 years there as chief field engineer. He loved being a land surveyor; he was licensed in five states and was president of the Vermont Society of Land Surveyors.
He is survived by the love of his life and partner in marriage for 55 years, Jenny Colleen (Marcotte) Harlow; four children: Julie and her husband, George Abraham, of Westbrook Connecticut, Jerry of Harrison, New York, Cathy and her husband, Bill Corbin, of Underhill, and Jim and his wife, Elizabeth, of Milton; his sister Gloria Riley of Orrington, Maine; nine grandchildren: Jackie, Gordy, Kevin, Sam, Cam, Jamie, Casey, Chase and Leah; several nieces and nephews; and by many, many friends.
A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, June 2, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Ready Funeral and Cremation Service Mountain View Chapel, 68 Pinecrest Drive, in Essex Junction.
Donations in his name may be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, P.O. Box 4527, New York, New York 10163.
To send online condolences to the family, please visit www.readyfuneral.com.
Roger L. Perkins, 76, of Mansfield, Connecticut, formerly of Lebanon, Connecticut, died on Tuesday, May 22, 2012, quietly at home with his family at his side, after a yearlong battle with cancer.
He was born in Westmore on November 21, 1935, the son of the late Clifton and Greta Perkins of Westmore. He was in the U.S. Air Force.
He met his late wife Barbara R. Roberts and they were married on December 19, 1959. They were married for 48 years. She passed away in 2008. After they were married they moved to Connecticut where Mr. Perkins worked on the Strauss Dairy farm in Lebanon for 25 years. It was a hard living but the family had a lot of good times. They would go iceskating, snowmobiling, and they played in the Ten Mile River as kids.
After leaving farming, Mr. Perkins did a lot of different jobs. He enjoyed working with his hands. He made a waterfall that came down to his fish pond. He had a beautiful flower garden. He enjoyed being a prankster, picking on people and his family. He enjoyed gardening and enjoyed his family.
He is survived by his son Ronald Holmes and his wife, Kathy, of Westmore; a daughter, Randi Henry, and her husband, Michael, of Lebanon; a daughter, Lisa Bussiere, and her husband, Thomas, of Pratt, Kansas; a daughter, Tami Simonds, and her husband, Sean, of Mansfield; a daughter, Carri Hunting, and her husband, Karl, of Ashford, Connecticut; a brother, Larry Perkins, and his wife, Judy, of Westmore; a sister, Pauline Simmons, and her husband, Bob, of Claremont New Hampshire; a sister, Avis Elliott, and her husband, Earl, of Danville; a sister, Betty Simmons, and her husband, Frances, of Middlebury; a brother-in-law, Charles Roberts, of Barton; and by a sister-in-law, Nancy Roberts-Schweitzer, and her husband, Albert, of Lebanon. He also leaves 11 grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and many family members and friends. He was predeceased by his parents; parents-in-law; his brothers: Alvah, Clifton, and Raymond; and a sister, Arlene.
His family will have a remembrance on Saturday, June 9, at the American Legion Hall in Lebanon from noon to 5 p.m. His burial will be in Westmore at Lake Willoughby Cemetery on Saturday, June 23, at 10 a.m..
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123-1718.
For an online memorial guest book, visit www.potterfuneralhome.com.
Ronald Rene Perron, 70, of Haddam Neck, Connecticut, husband of Helen (Sheltra) Perron, died on May 20, 2012, at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Connecticut.
Born on September 6, 1941, in Barton, he was the son of Almy (Shatney) Perron and the late Rene Perron of Glover.
He lived in Haddam Neck for 50 years. He graduated from Barton Academy and Vermont Technical College, and then worked for the Connecticut Highway Department for 35 years. He was also a licensed real estate broker and a landlord. He was an original member of the Haddam Neck Volunteer Fire Department and a former deacon at the Haddam Neck Congregational Church.
Mr. Perron traveled extensively and was a great sports enthusiast and an avid hunter. He loved visiting with people, sharing stories and telling jokes.
Besides his wife, he leaves his mother Almy (Shatney) Perron; a son, Neal Perron of Cromwell, Connecticut; a daughter-in-law, Tammy Perron of Cromwell; five sisters and brothers-in-law: Linda and Michael Bradford of Orange, Connecticut, Marlene and Bill Dennen of Colchester, Connecticut, Donna and Rick Godbout of Southport, North Carolina, Diane and Ed Blodgett of Barre, and Bonnie and Don Morin of Richmond; two grandchildren: Dharma and Sophie Perron; and several nieces and nephews.
A funeral service was held in Haddam Neck on May 24. Interment was at the Rock Landing Cemetery in Haddam Neck
Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to the Glover Community Church Steeple Fund, in care of Roland Woodard, P.O. Box 198, Glover, Vermont 05839.
David E. Provencher Sr., 73, of Newport Center died on May 21, 2012, in Newport.
He was born in 1938 in Gorham, New Hampshire, a son of Joseph and Mary (Goodno) Provencher. In 1959, he married Cecile LaFlamme who survives him.
Mr. Provencher worked for Columbia Forest Products in Newport from 1969, and retired in 1996. He was greatly involved in bringing the computer age to Columbia Forest Products both in the office and in the manufacturing area.
He enjoyed spending time with his family at his camp in Maine and collecting and trading antiques. He was a member of the Elks, the Fostoria Glass Society, and the historical societies of Memphremagog, Greenwood, Maine, and Gorham, New Hampshire.
He is survived by his wife Cecile Provencher of Newport Center; three children: Denise Piette and her husband, Real, of Newport, Donna Young and her husband, Jim, of Newport, and David Provencher Jr., MD, of Tampa, Florida; his grandchildren: Amanda and Jason Piette, Elizabeth, Jacqueline, Rebekah, and Victoria Young; his great-granddaughter Abigail Brand; and by three brothers and sisters: Phyllis Baillargeon of Dover, New Hampshire, Joan Bennett of Gorham, New Hampshire, and Richard Provencher of Waterbury. He was predeceased by a brother, Robert Provencher.
Funeral services were held on May 25 in Newport. Interment followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Newport.
Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders, 333 Seventh Avenue, second floor, New York, New York 10001-5004; or to the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter, 502 Strawberry Acres, Newport, 05855.
Online condolences may be sent to the family through the funeral home website at www.curtis-britch-converse-rushford.com.
Carol C. Wheatley
Carol C. Wheatley, 85, of Glover, beloved wife of Don Wheatley, died on May 25, 2012, in Newport.
Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home in Barton. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, at the Glover Community Church with the Reverend Evelyn Coupe officiating. Interment will follow in Westlook Cemetery in Glover.
Ellen R. Hommel
Ellen R. Hommel, 90, of Orleans died on May 25, 2012, in Derby.
Funeral services will be announced at a later date.
Committal services for Glen Goodwin will be held on Friday, June 1, at 11 a.m. at the Albany Cemetery.
Committal services for Patricia Kilborn will be held on Friday, June 1, at 1 p.m. at the Derby Center Cemetery.
Committal services for Philip Demers will be held on Friday,June 1, at 2 p.m. at the North Troy Cemetery.
Committal services for Otis Doncaster will be held on Saturday, June 2, at 10 a.m. at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Newport.
Committal services for Rita Bowen will be held on Saturday, June 2, at 11 a.m. at the Marlington Center Cemetery in Stanstead, Quebec.
Thomas S. Ballou
A celebration of life for Thomas S. Ballou will be held on Saturday, June 2, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the American Legion in Newport.
Michael J. Atwood
A celebration of the life of Michael J. Atwood will be held at the field by his home off the Creek Road in Craftsbury, on Saturday, June 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. Friends may bring a finger food to share at the table.