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Obituaries 12.21.22

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Sister Mary Ella Provencher


The Sisters of the Assumption mourn the loss of Sister Mary Ella Provencher, 76, who died peacefully at UMass Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Thursday, December 8, 2022. She was a native of Barton, the daughter of Genia (O’Brien) Provencher and Raymond Provencher.

Sister Mary Ella entered the Congregation of the Sisters of the Assumption on October 2, 1965. For thirty years, she served in the ministry of education in parochial schools in various cities and towns of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. She was an excellent teacher. She also served as principal in Brockton and Chicopee Falls.

In 2011, Sister Mary Ella had to end her Catholic School ministry because of serious medical issues. She resided at Assumption Residence in Petersham, Massachusetts, for nine years. She spent her last 11 years at Alliance Health at Marie Esther, where she daily spread joy and good humor.

Sister Mary Ella is survived by her sisters Peggy Fairbrother of Orleans and Denise Kimball of Texas, her brother Michael of Irasburg, many nieces and nephews, as well as the Sisters of the Assumption worldwide.

Her brothers Terrence and Marc predeceased her.

There was a Mass of Christian Burial held December 17, at Saint Anne chapel in Marlborough, Massachussetts.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sisters of the Assumption Retirement Fund, 720 Boston Post Road East, Marlborough, Massachusetts 01752.

To leave an online condolence, visit mackfamilyfh.com


Eugene Thomas McCormick II Jr.

Eugene Thomas McCormick II Jr. died peacefully in his sleep on December 12, 2022, after a brief bout with cancer.  “Gene,” as his family and friends called him, was born on December 9, 1949, to Eugene Thomas McCormick Sr. and Willie Lee Hawkins in Daytona Beach Florida.  He was the eldest of three siblings with sister Mary Jo Drayton and brother John Hawkins.

Gene demonstrated tremendous musical talent at an early age, learning music from his father, Eugene Thomas McCormick Sr., affectionately known as “Jew Boy,” as he performed in local clubs and on the Chitlin’ Circuit with Ray Charles.  He was adept at several instruments with the saxophone and piano being his favorite choices.  He was a prolific singer, song writer, and producer as well, with credits on several albums.

In his early years, Gene also displayed an aptitude for academics.  As such, he was one of two black students to integrate Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, shortly after the passing of the civil rights act of 1964 and following the Brown vs Board of Education decision of 1954.  His love of music and family associations later brought Gene to Bethune-Cookman College (now University), also in Daytona Beach.  There he continued his studies and became a prominent member of the “Marching Men of Cookman” as head drum major.  He would also become a featured singer with Black Velvet, a popular Temptations-style singing group at the university.

Gene traveled and lived a full life; giving the world his best as a musician, therapist, husband, and father.  Gene’s musical accolades include a recording contract with Columbia records with his band Jam Factory which appeared on a “Today Show” special in 1969 and was inducted into the Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Fame on March 4, 2016.

Gene would later become a founding member of the popular R&B band Fusion which appeared on Midnight Special, an 1980s version of America’s Got Talent and The Voice.  During his musical journey, Gene became a resident of Monmouth County, New Jersey where he became a key member and contributor to the bands Jersey Blue and the Jazz Lobsters.

In 1989, he released his first solo album entitled This Time under Malikah Records which he wrote, produced, edited, and performed. Throughout his career, Gene toured or worked with world renowned talent including the likes of Miles Davis, Lionel Richie, Bernard “Pretty” Purdy, and others.

As an academic and educator, Gene’s accolades include earning a bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman University, and a master of social work (MSW) from Fordham University in Bronx, New York, with doctoral credits achieved. He served as a teacher and band director for Volusia and Duval County, Florida, public schools and as assistant director of bands at his alma mater, Bethune-Cookman University.

He loved his university and was a charter member of the Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity.  He was also a member of the Greek fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi.  Honoring his alma mater’s motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” Gene continued to demonstrate his commitment to service as an active member of the Prince Hall Masons, Shriners, and Scottish Rite, where he held the position of Grand Basileus in Vermont.

After founding the company CynerGen with his late wife, Cynthia, he continued to deliver music, service, and performance to the greater Newport area through the annual Newport Jazz Festival, which he co-founded with his wife in partnership with city leadership.

Gene was outgoing and loved life.  His passions not only included music, but also skiing and sailing on Lake Memphremagog in Newport. His personality was infectious, and it was important that Gene made a connection with everyone he engaged with.  He had a great sense of humor and could shift seamlessly between eloquent high society or “down home” discussions with the best.

As a friend, Gene was a counselor and encourager, always offering tough, fair, but kind words to his clients and mentees; a listening ear or professional support to help each person reach their potential.  Gene is known best through his deeds, his music, his relationships, his impressions, and the smiles that are everlasting on each soul he touched spiritually.

Gene is survived by his children (in chronological order from the eldest): Paul Hagins, Ernest (Nes) Snell, Raheem McCormick, Malikah Morgan, and Benuamen Johnson-McCormick.  His reach is global, his love overwhelming, and his legacy, everlasting.  He has gone to glory welcomed by his late wife, Cynthia, his sister Mary Jo, and his mother, Willie Lee.

As Eugene Thomas McCormick enters the gates of heaven, he leaves behind an enduring legacy for all to admire.  Well done thy good and faithful servant, well done.

A gathering of family and friends for Eugene was held Saturday, December 17, in Elkridge, Maryland, and was followed by a celebration of life memorial service.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at garylkaufmanfuneralhome.com for the McCormick family.


Gaston “Sonny” Leblanc Jr.

Gaston “Sonny” Leblanc Jr., 76, of Tampa, Florida, died peacefully after a brief illness on December 6, 2022, surrounded by his loving family and those whom he touched as a coach. His family finds comfort in knowing he is now reunited with his loving wife of 52 years, Christine Champagne Leblanc.

Sonny, also known as Junior, was born on May 22, 1946, to Gaston and Maxalene Leblanc of North Troy.  Junior was their first child, who paved the way for the rest of the Leblanc bunch. As a child, Junior learned all his farming skills while developing a love for sports.  His interest in sports would only grow as he got older and his passion to inspire and coach others became his purpose.

Junior took great pride in being a dairy farmer. Anyone who had the chance to visit the farm on East Hill saw that was evident.  Going to auctions with beloved brothers and friends was a typical activity.  He instilled the values of hard work not only in farming but also in play.

Anyone who has played basketball in North Country Union High School’s gym may still feel his presence.  It is there where he started “Junior Hoops” back in 1974 for boys aged eight to 12 years old. While it may have begun as a way for his children to be involved in the sport, it quickly became an all-inclusive organization from all around the area which made bonds with kids and families throughout the Northeast Kingdom.  As his children grew older, he continued to coach for North Country and Sacred Heart High School.

In 1986, he moved to Tampa, Florida, with his wife and family where he began a produce stand with his brother and later started Sonny’s Lawn Service.  It wasn’t long after being in Florida the calling to coach came knocking.  His love of basketball followed him to the sunshine state.

Kimberlee, his daughter, had the privilege of coaching with her father for Independent Day School where they took the 0-12 middle school girls basketball team to 20-0 season within three years! They even brought the girls’ Warrior basketball team back to North Country to play in the Annual Rotary Tournament.  Sonny was so proud to show his Florida girls where it all began, and his Vermont family were the bests hosts.

Taking advantage of the beautiful Florida weather, Sonny decided girls’ softball would be his sport of choice.  The only problem was there was no girls fastpitch softball in the state of Florida.  Did that stop him?  Anyone who knows Sonny knows that answer to be no way!

For the past 36 years, Coach Sonny dedicated his life to the organization he started: Tampa HeatWave.  Seeing a player’s potential and getting them to reach and exceed that potential is a gift Coach Sonny was able to give his whole life.  He continued to contribute to the field of softball by offering his services as a coach and mentor to aspiring athletes. With Coach Sonny’s expertise, hundreds of young ladies were able to secure victory on the field and gain college scholarships to pursue not only the love of the game, but more importantly their education.

The National Softball Association of Florida inducted Coach Sonny into the Hall of Fame for his commitment to the sport and his pioneering spirit to start fastpitch in the state so many years ago.

He has touched so many lives in his 76 years on this earth.  He will be remembered for being a huge jokester, the biggest fan, supporting father, loving grandfather, big brother, fun uncle, loyal friend, and willing to give all of himself for those he coached and loved.

Many have asked the family how they best can honor Sonny’s legacy. The family asks that people spend as much time as possible outdoors, with friends and loved ones. Never give up and always try to push as far as you can.  Live with no regrets.

Remember: “Go hard or go home!”

Sonny’s family knows he is up in heaven already coaching a team and watching over them.

The family is working on funeral arrangements and celebration of life to occur in the upcoming new year.


Gertrude Gray Cross

Gertrude Gray Cross died on December 5, 2022, at the age of 101. She had been a resident of Bel-Aire Center for three months. Prior to that, she lived in Derby Line for most of her adult life. Gertrude was born in Holland, on March 13, 1921, the daughter of Effie and Glen Gray. She graduated from Derby Academy in 1939 and, six months later, married her beloved husband, Philip Cross, who predeceased her in 1968.

Gertrude is survived by her children: Linda Keister, Lana Bailey and son-in-law, Jim, Cheryl Cleeland and son-in-law, Ken, and Stephen Cross and daughter-in-law, Annette; by six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. She is also survived by one sister Gerry Barber, and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by three sisters.

Contributions in her name may be made to the following:  Orleans-Essex VNA and Hospice Inc., 46 Lakemont Road, Newport, Vermont 05855; or NEK Council on Aging, 481 Summer Street, Suite 101, St. Johnsbury, Vermont  05819, with donations to benefit Meals on Wheels, Newport and Derby area.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Online condolences at curtis-britch.com.



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