Obituaries 11.8.2023

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Gunnar Eugene Watson


Sergeant Gunnar Eugene Watson, 27, of Wheelock, died unexpectedly on October 16, 2023, from injuries sustained in a fatal shooting at his home. His loss was a complete shock, and the family is left shaken and deeply saddened.

Gunnar was born on October 21, 1995, to Caroline and Jason Watson in Kokomo, Indiana. He was a proud, true Vermonter, having moved to the state at only nine months old. He was raised in Barton and attended Lake Region Union High School. He was passionate about all things military and family. In 2018, Gunnar met Aubrie St. Louis, and they wed in 2020.  Together they had two boys, Leo and Arthur.

Gunnar worked as a foreman at Lucas Tree Experts for two years and was a team leader in the sniper section of C Troop 1/172 CAV of the Vermont Army National Guard. His impressive three-year military career decorated him with many accomplishments.

Charlie Troop Commander, CPT Max Kennedy said, “We remain in shock at the devastating loss of our soldier, Sergeant Gunnar Watson. Shortly after enlisting, Gunnar distinguished himself by successfully completing airborne, ranger, and sniper school in approximately two years. Sergeant Watson consistently demonstrated exceptional physical and mental prowess, epitomizing the ideal of the quiet professional, earning the admiration and respect of his peers and superiors.”

Gunnar’s dream was to be an elite service member and the most valuable soldier to the armed forces he could be. His exemplary performance was nothing short of remarkable.

Gunnar was a force of nature, determined to provide for his family and give them the life he felt they deserved. His family meant more to him than anything else in the world, something he often mentioned. He was unendingly proud of Leo, Arthur, and Aubrie, and always tried his best to support them, regularly exceeding all expectations as a husband and father.

Anyone who knew Gunnar, knew that he had one of the biggest hearts and warmest dispositions that could be found. He had an immense passion for hunting and was always a source of positivity. His parents are very proud of everything he achieved throughout his life. His family and friends will miss him more than words can say.

He is survived by his wife, Aubrie St. Louis; by his sons Leo and Arthur; by his parents, Jason and Caroline Watson; by his siblings Skyler and Brooke Watson; by his grandmothers Penny Watson and Gabrielle Sumner, and his grandfather Chris Watson, as well as by his father- and mother-in-law Tracy and Elizabeth St. Louis.  He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.

A funeral service will be held on Sunday, November 19, at the Greensboro United Church of Christ at 2 p.m.  All who loved Gunnar and wish to support his family in this tragedy are welcome to attend or view the service online at the link provided, at a later date, on the home page of

Contributions in memory of Gunnar and to support his family moving forward can be made using the GoFundMe link: gofundme/2c784ce2. Condolences and memories of Gunnar may be shared with his family at


Bryan William Woods

Bryan William Woods of Morgan died in Ocala, Florida, on October 26, 2023. Bry was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1969.

He and his sister Patricia moved to Shelburne in 1971 to join their adopting family, Charles and Ellen Woods. They and their older brother Stott spent their young years in Vermont and then moved to Micanopy, Florida, for their teenage years.

When Bry was eight, the family spent a whole year living in Haiti. It was there that Bry began to display his kindness toward the less fortunate. He befriended the street boys of Jacmel, Haiti, often bringing them home so that the family could feed them or treat a superficial wound. His tenderness for the underdog was a defining characteristic throughout his life.

When Bry was 16, and his two older siblings were away at school, the family arranged for a 16-year-old from Germany to come for half the school year. Max Lemme and Bry became lifetime friends.  In the following years, they traveled together first in Europe, and the next summer in the United States. To this day, Max, his wife, Anke, and their two sons Paul and Leo are extensions of the Woods family.

After graduating from high school in Gainesville, Florida, Bry went back to Vermont to go to Lyndon State College. He graduated from there with a degree in recreational management. He stayed in Lyndonville and coached at Lyndon Institute for ten years. He coached track and soccer and was the assistant coach when the Lyndon Institute soccer team defeated CVU in 2000 in the playoffs. That game is still celebrated as “the biggest upset in Vermont high school sports.”

He also managed the summer swim program at Power’s Park.  As a teacher and coach, he was always paying attention to the less athletic, shy kids. Everyone who came to practice got in the game.

He was married to Heather Wheeler and was welcomed into her extended family. The Langmaids helped make those the best years of his life.

In 2013, he began driving trucks in the oil fields of Texas and then in 2018, he moved back to Ocala and drove for Penske Trucking. Over the years he dealt with bouts of opioid addiction, often started by an injury or surgery that put him on painkillers. He heroically pulled himself out of the darkness many times, but it became harder and harder.  In the end, the addiction won.

Bryan is survived by his parents, Charles and Ellen (Missy) Woods, of Morgan; by his brother Charles Stott Woods of St. Johnsbury; by his sister Patricia Sohn and brother-in-law Benjamin Smith and niece Kyra Smith of Gainesville; by his niece Audrey Woods Vascik and his nephew Isaac Woods, plus several uncles and cousins.

A gathering to celebrate Bry’s life will be held next summer in Morgan.

Those who desire may contribute to Lyndon Institute Athletics at Lyndon Institute Development Office, P.O. Box 127, Lyndon Center, Vermont 05850.


Joann L. Miele

Joann L. Miele, 85, of Candia, New Hampshire, died October 16, 2023, surrounded by her loved ones. She was an extraordinarily loving mother, wife, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  Her spirit was light and lovely, and people usually responded to her in that same way.

Born in New York on March 16, 1938, she was the daughter of Anthony and Muriel (Wellington) Kopco.

She was a graduate of the Modern Dance School and had performed in many recitals.

A remarkable and avid outdoorswoman, she completed the 2,190-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail. She climbed to base camp of Mt. Everest in Nepal; she backpacked twice from the North Sea to the Irish Sea in England and Yorkshire. She became a “peak-bagger” and hiked all of New Hampshire’s White Mountains in summer and in winter, being among the first hundred people to make the winter ascents.

During a summer’s day in 1992, she was the first to climb all six local Vermont peaks in one day: Wheeler, Whaleback, Hor, Pisgah, Haystack, and Bald. Husband, Joe, accompanied her on the first three climbs and remembers the experience vividly.  JoAnn’s beloved dog Hank stuck with her for all peaks and all sixteen hours, sometimes doing the trail finding.

JoAnn also hiked the Long Trail in Vermont, several famous trails in Utah, and part of the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu in Peru. She and husband, Joe, visited Paris, including Normandy, three times because they loved their first visit so much. Other visits were to Portugal, Italy, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Galapagos, Ecuador, Baja, Mexico, Vancouver, Canada, and many national parks. Joe has been known to say that every place he went with JoAnn was sure to include walking.

JoAnn’s exploits were not limited to terra firma. She taught swimming when her three boys were young; she loved kayaking and canoeing, including white water, in many rivers in New England and North Carolina. She became a certified scuba diver and explored the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

JoAnn loved beautiful things and beautiful places. It’s no wonder she spent the last seventy-seven summers at Lake Willoughby, and she will be interred there. It all started when her parents vacationed with Mabel and Morris Pickle at Green Acres. The Pickles were the first of many, many friends and neighbors who have shared happy times at the lake. JoAnn and Joe went to Willoughby Lake on their honeymoon. It rained every day and “my Joey” vowed he would never go there again. However, Willoughby and Vermont are so enticing that Joe now clocks in at 66 summers. All of their children hold the place dear to their hearts, as well.

Family members include her beloved and devoted husband of 66 years, Joseph Miele, “My Joe;” three sons: Joseph and his wife, Angela, of Londonderry, Aaron and his wife, Katie, of Bantam, Connecticut, Christopher and his wife, Laurie, of Francestown; two grandchildren: Alexander and Alden; two step-granddaughters Alysia and Julia; four great-grandchildren: Noah, Skyler, Macy, and Charlie; two sisters: Janice and her partner, Fred, of New York, and Jackie and her husband, Elliot, of California. JoAnn was also loved by many nieces and nephews.

Calling hours were on October 27, at the Connor-Healy Funeral Home in Manchester, New Hampshire.

JoAnn will be buried at the Westmore Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be sent to Alzheimer’s Disease Research, 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, Maryland, 20871.


Morris “Mac” McKenney

Morris “Mac” McKenney, 90, of Shelburne, died October 27, 2023. He was born December 11, 1932, in Island Pond, son of Cecil and Doris (Turcott) McKenney.

He apprenticed as a railroad machinist and worked in that capacity for the Grand Trunk in Island Pond, and the central Vermont line in St. Albans, and was later employed at IBM in equipment maintenance departments for 23 years.

He was a past master of Seneca Masonic Lodge in Milton, and a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite member. A Navy veteran, he served four years aboard the U.S.S. Chilton troop transport as a machinist mate.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Theresa, as well as by his daughters Susan Klein (Karl) and Sharon Roy (Alain). He is also survived by his stepchildren: Joe (Charlotte) Benoit, Gregory (Debbie) Benoit, Leslie Benoit, and Brenda Metiver. A gathering will be held at the convenience of the family.

Postscript: Morris wrote his own obit some time ago, and while factually correct, does not impart the depth of the impression he made on those who knew and loved him. He observed all, missed little, and said even less. He would not offer advice unless asked, and when advice was given, it was sound and thoughtfully delivered. He could make anything out of nothing.

He was a master storyteller and enjoyed a good “visit.” Throughout his illness he always told his medical caregivers he just wanted to live one day longer than his bride, to whom he was devoted. When he realized that would not come to pass, his family focused on his comfort and care. Dear friends and cherished family took the time to visit with him in his final weeks, from which he drew great comfort.


Gary E. Larocque

Gary E. Larocque, 40, of Brownington, died suddenly at his home on October 30, 2023.  He was a devoted son, brother, uncle, and loyal friend.

Gary was born April 3, 1983, in Newport, to Everett Larocque and the late Nancy-Jo (Young) Chapdelaine. He graduated from Lake Region Union High School in 2002.

Gary loved being outdoors. This led him to starting his career as a groundman and he moved up through the ranks to arborist/foreman.

Gary was a loyal, genuine friend, always willing to lend a hand to someone in need. In his free time, he enjoyed spending time with family four-wheeling and target shooting.  He also had a passion for building model ships of all kinds.

He is survived by his father, Everett Larocque; by his sister Amy-Jo Morse and her husband, Paul; by his brother Joshua and his wife, Jenn; and by his nephews and nieces Parker, Mackenzy-Jo, Emma-Jo, and Dominic, all of Newport Center.

A graveside service will be held November 8, 2023, at 1 p.m., at St. Theresa Cemetery in Orleans.

Online condolences may be made at


Sherrie L. Brophy

Sherrie Lane Brophy, 70, of Lowell, died on October 15, 2023, at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, New Hampshire, surrounded by her family.

She was born on November 19, 1952, in San Francisco, California. She grew up in the San Francisco area, graduating from Saint Paul High School. After high school, Sherrie married John Brophy, moved to Massachusetts, and grew their family with the birth of their son Sean.

Sherrie lived in Framingham, Massachusetts for many years, until moving to Lowell with her partner, Clayton. Sherrie worked for Mike’s Electric Inc. in Jay for many years.

She was extraordinarily funny, witty, and a fantastic cook. She adored her grandchildren and constantly shared photos and stories of them with her friends.

Sherrie is survived by Clayton; by her son Sean and his wife, Christina; by her three grandchildren: Gina, Emma, and Owen; by her niece Susan, and by her beloved dog Brandy.

Services will be held at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Sherrie’s name to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at which she enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren.


Barbara Jean (Thompson) Bessette

Barbara Jean (Thompson) Bessette, 76, of Lowell, died and left her home peacefully to be with the Lord on November 2, 2023.

She is survived by her beloved husband of 59 years, George T. “Joe” Bessette; by her children: Lance and Courtney Bessette, Donald and Crystal Bessette, and Cheyenne Bessette, and her foster son Charlie Thurston; by her grandchildren: Brianna and her husband, Tucker Burnell, Karlie Bessette and her partner, Zac, D.J. Bessette, Kasey and her husband, Bucky Dennett, Dylan Bessette and his partner, Hanna, Wyatt Bessette, and Makenna and Makinley Bessette of Oregon; by her sisters Vivian Stephens and Arlene Rider, both of Maine; and by seven great-grandchildren, whom she loved dearly, as well as by several nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her son Shayne L. Bessette, grandson Jacob Roy Bessette, brothers Roger W., Ernest R., Clyde F., and Sumner Rose Thompson, and by her sisters Sandra Carpenter and Hildreth Thompson Rispoll.

She enjoyed visiting family and friends in Maine, she liked to crochet different things, and loved spending time with her grandkids. She will be greatly missed by all.

Funeral services will be held at the convenience of the family.

Online condolences may be made at


Leo Norman Beaudry

Leo Norman Beaudry, 64, of Albany, died at North Country Hospital on November 2, 2023, following a brief illness.

He was born in Newport in 1959 to Romeo and Irene Beaudry.

Leo was preceded in death by his father, Romeo, and his mother, Irene; by his sister Rachel, and by his brother Theodore (Pete).

He is survived by his brother Phillip and his wife, Connie; by his brother Nelson Beaudry; and by his sisters Yvette Beaudry and Doreen Beaudry.

There will be a small gathering on November 12, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Albany Town Hall.


Michael W. Courson

Michael W. Courson, 77, of Westfield, died suddenly at his home on October 28, 2023. He was a dedicated son, husband, father, soldier, and community supporter.

Michael was born on May 24, 1946, in Hollywood, California, to the late William and Doreen (LeVitre) Courson. He graduated from Granada Hills High School in Granada Hills, California, before briefly enrolling in UCLA. He then began his military service.

Michael served in United States Army for 31 years, including Vietnam, Desert Storm, and a host of other hot spots around the world, specializing in radar systems. His exemplary work resulted in his being one of the first to be promoted to the rank of master warrant officer (CW5). He also ran the radar training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Michael treasured education, so upon his retirement he attended Johnson State College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in education.  He then worked as a military radar consultant for the remainder of his life.

In his spare time, he enjoyed traveling and working on International scouts and trucks. He was also a member of the VFW Post #798 in Newport, American Legion Post #28 in North Troy, and Antique Cars of Yesteryear.

On April 1, 1972, he married Mary Kay McMaster, who survives him. He is also survived by his son David Courson and his wife, Erin Purcell, of Norfolk, Virginia; by his grandchildren Simon and Esmé Courson; and by his radar systems family worldwide.

Online condolences may be made at

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Orleans Essex Visiting Nurses Association, 46 Lakemont Road, Newport, Vermont 05855, or to the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Shelter, 4473 Barton Orleans Road Orleans, Vermont 05860.



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