Obituaries 2.21.2024

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Michael Bernard Root

Michael Bernard Root, born July 1, 1949, son of Marion Root, died and went to be with the Lord on January 6, 2024, with family by his side.

Michael was given the opportunity to write his own obituary:

As a child, Mike entertained himself and others by playing in the woods, building forts, fighting off imaginary Indians, and creating his own games. He tried to make homemade gadgets, some worked, some did not, but he had more fun creating them than having them work.

As he got older, he got involved with extracurricular activities, such as basketball and dancing. Mike loved to dance, and Elvis Presley was his favorite. He taught himself to dance listening to Elvis records in his bedroom and had a reputation for his amazing footwork. In his yearbook, he was voted as the best dancer for the class of 1968. He instilled dancing into his girls, pushing the dining room table back and having his daughters stand on his feet as he whirled them around the hardwood floor, most of the time their feet weren’t even touching the floor.

At eight years old, he started his first job delivering milk for a dollar a week and a pint of milk for breakfast. He then went on to be a better entrepreneur where he nailed a wooden box to a sled and returned bottles to the store to save money for a new bicycle (Mike said the sled would slide really easily in the winter but dragged like the devil in the summertime).

While in high school (St. Johnsbury Academy Class of 1968) he had many odd jobs from delivering newspapers to being a short order cook at most of the local restaurants. He then began taking salesmanship classes and he worked in retail sales such as men’s clothing stores and shoe stores. He also took a turn selling waterless cookware door-to-door and worked in a local factory (for two weeks). He drove a truck delivering furniture and then started working in a butcher shop as a meat cutter where he advanced to slaughterhouses, gaining a reputation for being the fastest and cleanest man with a knife, working out of a five-gallon bucket of water. His adventures with animals included being chased by mother geese, mother pigs, and angry bulls. One time he was helping a farmer with his pigs, and he reached into the pen that was four feet high and grabbed the baby pig.  The mother pig jumped out of the pen and Mike jumped back into the pen. Another time he had to lasso a 2,500-pound bull out in a farmer’s field to load him into a truck and when he got almost to the truck the farmer yelled, “watch out he’s ugly,” and Mike thought, “oh boy, this is gonna hurt.”

Christmas was his favorite time of year and one of his hidden talents was anonymously giving to others and playing Santa Claus, which he did for three generations. His patience with kids made him a mentor to many. This led him to realize his potential for having a positive impact on the children that needed it the most. His time as a school bus driver was one of the most rewarding jobs he did throughout his life. Mike the bus driver became a hero to the children on his bus route.

He wanted to have as many experiences in life as he could and accomplished this by taking on 47 different jobs in his lifetime. He always said he was a jack-of-all-trades and a master of BS. He was a little bit of a rebel and liked to do things his way.

Before hitting bottom and turning his life around, Mike struggled with alcohol addiction for 35 years. He was very proud when he received his 40-year sobriety medallion. During his struggles with recovery, he always felt as though he had abandoned his girls. Michael sacrificed time with his daughters so that he could get better and be there for them. He always tried his best to be at their games and would sit in the bleachers in the shadows, and his girls always knew he was there.

Since he was a kid, he dreamed of having his own pair of pulling ponies. He fulfilled that after his sobriety and got his first team and named them Pride and Joy. The first time he entered the arena he cried all the way to the bolt.

On July 24, 1999, he married the love of his life, Joanne, and together they started building an empire. That included many spontaneous adventures, never knowing where they were going to end up. Together they owned and operated the Orleans General Store for five years. After that they moved on to develop Rooty’s Apple Orchard in Brownington, hosting many class field trips from area schools. The best part of that was his joy in watching the kids running around the orchard picking apples. All of this while selling real estate and driving a school bus.

It was about this time Mike was introduced into the Church of God and he and Joanne were instrumental in developing the playground, the garden, building picnic tables, designing a storage shed which houses furniture, handicapped equipment, and cold storage for the garden vegetables. At one time he was on the church counsel before he got sick.

Mike gained many brothers with the Knights of the twenty-first century. His work with the men’s group was very important to him.

In 2017, Mike was afflicted with ALS and although he knew the outcome, he kept a positive outlook and took care of everyone else rather than worry about himself.

It was Mike’s faith and humor that kept him going for these long seven years. As the disease slowly progressed, he found that his faith conquered all, knowing that the devil could take everything except his heart because God had his hands around his heart. The more the devil took the stronger his faith became, and the more they would laugh at the devil.

Mikes humor and positive attitude endured right to the end which was very entertaining for the staff at North Country Hospital. Mike and the family are extremely thankful for the compassionate care and love that was given to him during his stay there.

Mike’s message to his friends and family is that life is quite simple. All you have to do is wake up in the morning, say thank you for one more night, turn your day over to God, but mostly believe and He will take care of it, especially when things look the worst.

Whenever you see a hawk sitting in a tree or circling above, it is probably Mike watching over us all. Goodnight girls… I love you… God bless and keep you safe.

Mike leaves behind his beloved wife and best friend, Joanne Root; eight children: Jennifer Pal, Heather and Jeremy Wheeler, Meridith and Eric Berry, Rhonda Cole, Jody Gonyaw, and Randy Gonyaw; 15 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren, with one more coming in July. He was also survived by his siblings: Joe and Theresa Root, Sheila Delworth, Terry and Lynn Root, Tim Root, and partner, Bonnie, Tammy and Wendall Jones; two aunts and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, his mother, Marion, his mother-in-law, Ruby Stone, sons: Aaron Root and John Pal, a niece Melissa Jenkins, a grandson Cody Cole, his brother-in-law Kenny McAdams, and his daughter Jennifer’s partner, Ai Metcalf.

A celebration of life was held on Saturday, January 20, at 11 a.m. at the Church of God in Derby.

Memorial donations may be made in Mike’s memory to the Living Waters Hospice House. Donations can be made at: or mailed to P.O. Box 1104, Newport, Vermont 05855.


MaryAnn Flood

MaryAnn Flood, 75, of Newport Center, died peacefully on February 2, 2024, at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington.

Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on July 10, 1948, she was the daughter of the late George and Anita (Lamothe) Poitras, lovingly raised in Lowell, Massachusetts.

She was a graduate of St. Louis Academy in 1966. She also studied at University New Hampshire school of criminology.

She spent time with her family; as children her family has fond memories of her being spontaneous, taking weekend day-trips throughout New England for roadside picnics or a local ice cream stand for a special treat.

Later on, she participated and socialized with the ladies as a member of the Red Hats Society of Barton.

She always celebrated birthdays and holidays by sending cards and making people feel appreciated. She enjoyed cooking a family meal, gardening, reading, music, dancing, and doing arts and crafts for many years with her children and grandchildren.

Her compassion for animals was taught to them; by her actions while raising chickens for their eggs and her Cashmere goats that she raised for their fine soft wool that she spun into yarn.

When people had the opportunity to visit her at home, they were soon greeted and welcomed by Smokey, Tigger, and Toby, her beloved cats.

She will be remembered for her unconditional love, incredible kindness, positivity, great sense of humor, and quick wit.

She was always there when anyone needed her. Her home was always welcoming, peaceful, a spiritual haven to reflect, and light some candles and incense to the Arch Angel Michael that she had a novena to.

She never hesitating to put a kettle on, for a drop by of friends and family, sipping a cup of tea and a pleasant conversation.

Her absence will be greatly felt.

She is survived by her loving husband of 22 years of marriage, Dexter Flood, of Newport Center.

She was a devoted mother to her children. She leaves behind her daughters: Gail McCarthy and Mary E. Flood , and her sons: Richard McCarthy and his wife, Christine John McCarthy, Tim Yip and his fiancée, Amanda Deveta, and Roger Yip.  She also leaves her cherished grandchildren: Sherri and Brian McCarthy, John Jr., Brandon, Brittany McCarthy, Timothy and Lara Yip, and Sachi, Branden, and Kundan Khushu.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in MaryAnn’s name to the American Heart Association or the Parkinson’s Association.

There will be no funeral arrangements.

Respectfully, family and friends are welcome to gather for her burial that will take place in the spring at Pine Grove Cemetery at the convenience of the family.


Zakeyah Andrenia Ferguson

Zakeyah Andrenia Ferguson, 9, of Newport Center, died suddenly on February 11, 2024, at her home. She was born on June 11, 2014, in Newport, to Tyshon (Nuk) and Kassandra (Kassie)  (Collins) Ferguson.

Zakeyah attended Newport Town School where she was in the fourth grade. She loved music, liked to be heard, and had just recently found a new love of skiing at Jay Peak. She also loved being read to.

She is survived by her parents, Nuk and Kassie Ferguson, brother Zandyn Speed, twin sister Zakiyah Ferguson, and sister Zaniyah Ferguson; maternal grandparents, Shannon Collins and Robert Collins Jr., both of Newport Center; and great-grandmother Elaine Eldred of Castle Rock, Colorado; her aunts and uncles: Michael Collins and daughter Everlee of Newport Center,  Samantha Collins of Essex, Charles Ferguson Jr. of Jersey City, New Jersey, Cenethia Brown of Durham, North Carolina; and several cousins.

She was predeceased by her paternal grandparents, Thais and Charles Ferguson Sr.

The family would like to acknowledge the team at UVM Children’s Hospital for their care, support, and love of Zakeyah over the years. With an extra thank-you to Miss Sue (Newport Town Elementary School) and Theresa (UVM Children’s Hospital).

Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 22, at the Curtis-Britch and Bouffard Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Derby, where services will also be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, February 23, with Reverend Michael Haddad officiating. The family invites anyone who wishes to gather after the funeral to the Newport Town Elementary School for a light luncheon. If friends desire, memorial contributions in Zakeyah’s name may be made to the Meningitis Foundation of America ( Online condolences may be made at


Donna L. Benedict

Donna L. Benedict, 73, formerly of Coventry, and more recently of Glover, died on Friday, February 16, 2024, in Newport.  A graveside service will be held at Coventry Cemetery in the spring. A full obituary will follow.


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