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Obituaries 3.24.21

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Cynthia L. Thompson

Cynthia Lea Thompson, 66, beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, memé, friend, co-worker, neighbor, and community member, chose at 8:25 p.m. on February 28, just months after being diagnosed with a bithalamic anaplastic astrocytoma (stage III brain tumor), to release back to the wild her blessed spirit.

She was born on January 10, 1955, at Lady of the Lourdes Hospital in Camden, New Jersey and was daughter of Josephine Mary (Baricak) Smith and William Wade Smith Sr.

However, it was from her mother and stepfather, Harry Pratt, that Cyndi developed what she referred to as “gypsy blood” while being raised (along with her younger sister) as a Navy brat.

On September 17, 1971, she married David Edwin Briggs Sr. of Rhode Island, who blessed her with two sons before a work-related accident left her a widow on September 9, 1977.

On July 24, 1982, Cynthia married her soul mate, Jeffrey Lee Thompson, who blessed her with three daughters.  During their 26 years of blissful life together, they raised all five children; co-owned and operated a long haul trucking company, J&C Thompson Transport; lived in six different states; and settled down in Newport Center.

That beautiful, bright yellow house with orange trim is where Jeffrey took his final breaths, predeceasing her on August 23, 2007.

Free-spirited Cyndi enjoyed riding motorcycles alongside other HOG (Harley Owners Group) members or on a solo trip cross-country.

Strong-willed, she experienced many professions over the years to help keep her family well fed.  Early on, it was waitressing, factory, and seasonal work.  Later, she acquired her realtor license, worked for the United States Postal Service, even obtained a class A CDL.  Nothing was too big of a challenge when it came to supporting her beloved family.

All the while, Cynthia’s dream since early childhood was to become a registered nurse.

She graduated Vermont Technical College with a licensed practical nurse (LPN) degree in 2002 and obtained a registered nurse (RN) degree in 2005.  She served her community in Newport as a staff nurse at the Vermont Department of Corrections from 2002 through 2007, utilized her RN as nurse manager at Maple Leaf Farm in Underhill between 2007 and 2014, and finished her career as the regional utilization manager at MHM Services in Waterbury between 2015 and 2019 before buying a home in Port Charlotte, Florida, and retiring.

Most of all, Cyndi enjoyed spending time with family and loved ones.  Preferring Vermont’s cool summers while indulging in her greatest joy, Cyndi was up on vacation, spending time with friends and family in 2020, when, sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer.  She chose to stay here, with family in the area, so that she could die, at home, surrounded by her loved ones; and she did so, both peacefully and painlessly, after spending the morning playing with the kicking foot of her final unborn grandchild who is due any day now.  Such a blessing!

“May your spirit always ride wild and free!” — Cynthia Thompson, 2007

Cyndi was predeceased by all three of her parents; her two husbands; her father-in-law Alson R. Thompson; her nephew Dereck L. James; and her niece Kayla S. James.

She is survived by her dear children: David E. Briggs Jr. and his partner, Kelli Johnson, of Vermont; Daniel J. Briggs Sr. and his wife, Melissa, of Rhode Island; Dezarae L. Thompson and her partner, Andrew Traverso-Estes, of Vermont; Ravan L. Macfarlane and her husband, Joshua H., of North Carolina; and KaziaJo M. Thompson and her partner, Chad Smith, of North Carolina; and by her beloved grandchildren: David E. Briggs III and his partner, Brienna, of Vermont; Elijah Briggs; Rachael M. (Briggs) Freeman and her husband, Joe, of Arkansas; Daniel J. Briggs Jr.; Mercedes M. and Jonathan J. Macfarlane; and Kaleigh M. Thompson.  She is also survived by her “adopted” kids: John Ainsworth of Rhode Island; Nicole “Nikki” Mathison of Vermont; Brandi “Boo” Reader of Vermont; and Jennifer “Clefty” Bowen of Vermont; her mother-in-law Amelia M. (Patrick) Thompson of Rhode Island; her soul sisters: Sherry Mancini of North Carolina, and Penny Jenson, RN, of Vermont; by her biological sister Diana L. “Brat” Johnson and her husband, David, of Maryland; her step-brother David Harris and his wife, Sherri, and family of Kentucky; her half-brother William Wade “Turtle” Smith Jr. and his wife, Pam, and family of Kentucky; her half-sister Karen Sue (Smith) James and her granddaughter of Kentucky; and her step-sister Vivian Pratt and family of North Carolina; as well as several nieces and nephews — including one great-nephew born in 2020; and many other friends and loved ones.

A celebration of Cynthia’s life will be held at the convenience of the family.

Should friends desire, contributions in Cyndi’s memory can be made to a charity of their choice. Please mail condolences to: the Thompson family, P.O. Box 106, Orleans, Vermont 05860.


Roy Stevens

Roy Stevens, 83, died on January 26 at Bel-Aire Nursing Home in Newport.

He is survived by his son Gregory B. Stevens, his son Alan D. Stevens, and his daughter Lori Ann Stevens.

Roy was predeceased by his wife, Patricia Ann, in 2014.

Roy Stevens was a loyal husband for over 60 years, father, Kirby salesman during the ’60s and ’70s, Blue Ribbon Carpet Cleaning founder and owner, horse rider, Kiwanis club member, and avid bowler.

Roy was well known for his horses and his charm.  He was always friendly.

Roy was a confessed Christian.  He had many friends.  He will be missed on Earth but waiting in heaven.

There will be no formal memorial service due to COVID-19 restrictions.

His children say, “Thank you, Dad, for all the love we shared.”


Marie Celine Joyce Norton-McNeal

Marie Celine Joyce Norton-McNeal, the eldest child of Vinal Stanley Norton and Mary Ange (Dubois) Norton, left her earthly life when she died on March 13 to join those who passed before her.

Marie died in the arms of her devoted husband and caregiver.  She had lived the past 22 years battling nine various types of cancer, the last taking her life.  Her final days were spent in hospice at the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury.

Marie was born on August 21, 1949, in Magog, Quebec, Canada.

On October 15, 1992, she married the cherished friend who became the love of her life, Baxter Douglas McNeal, in St. Albans.

For her education, Marie went to the Ursuline Convent and Sunnyside Elementary and High School in Canada; the Smith Secretary Business School; the Community College of Vermont in both Newport and St. Albans where she was entered in the book Who’s Who of Junior College; and the University of Vermont.

She earned a degree in early childhood development and education, a human service degree, and a parent educator certificate from the University of Vermont.

The summer Marie turned 16 she worked at Spencer Supports Limited in Rock Island, Quebec, Canada, returning to school in the fall. Later, she worked at Ethan Allen, Columbia Forest, Sel-Bar Weaving, North Country Hospital, and area public schools. Her last positions were with Orleans County Early Essential Education, the Vermont Center for Prevention of Child Abuse, the active parenting program, and the nurturing program through Orleans and Franklin counties. She taught and substituted at schools in Orleans and Franklin counties, and also taught teen moms, enabling them to obtain their general education diplomas (GED).

Marie volunteered for the American Cancer Society (ACS) for over ten years, receiving the ACS Appreciation Award and the ACS Courage Award. She initiated and coordinated the Road to Recovery Program for the Northeast Kingdom, coordinating rides for cancer patients to their medical appointments. She and her husband, Baxter, participated in the Race for a Cure, Relay for Life, and other fundraisers for the ACS.

Marie was also a volunteer mentor of children for the Chrysalis Center’s new friends program and for human services.

Marie and Baxter enjoyed their home and each other’s company. They often took weekend trips alone or with friends to Canada, Cape Cod, Hampton Beach, and Old Orchard Beach.

In 1993, along with two children and one dog, they toured the country in a Winnebago for seven weeks, taking in 25 states. Returning to the Vermont border, Marie said “We don’t need to travel far, we have a little of all nature’s beauty right here in Vermont.”

Marie took pleasure in her life through her husband, family, friends, many hobbies, crafts, and sewing pillows and blankets.  The highlight of the year was hosting themed mystery dinner parties.

Marie enjoyed word searches, reading, learning, writing in her journals, along with watching the birds, squirrels and chipmunks frolic in the backyard and by the pool. Other visitors would be turkeys, deer, fox, and groundhogs, the land was her own little “wild critter farm,” she said.

For the past 11 years, Marie’s latest hobby was family genealogy. She enjoyed discovering and connecting relatives through DNA from around the world. The closest relatives were Carlie Whitehill of Island Pond; Nancy Lynn Lyon of Hanover, Maine; and Nancy Kolesnik of Dannville, Kentucky.

Marie was shy and quiet until she got to know a person, but if a person became her friend, it was forever. She always loved her family and friends. Most of all, she was modest, and her smile radiated her true soul.

Marie was predeceased by her parents Vinal and Mary Ange (Dubois) Norton; her brother Dale Vinal Norton; her son Nathaniel Norton Cote; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

She will be sorely missed by her caring, loving husband, Baxter D. McNeal, who was always her caregiver along the way; her children Christopher and Denise (Keith); her 11 grandchildren: Damon and Jade Cote; Alice Willis, Edmund and Andrew Allard, and Donald, Makayla, Dalton, Kiana, Dakota and Noah Cote; her five great-grandchildren; her siblings: Robert and his wife, Vickie, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Jeanne and her husband, Harris Bobbitt, of Chevery, Quebec, Canada; and Roger “Boo Boo” and his son, Hunter, of Stanstead, Quebec, Canada; as well as many aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

As per Marie’s wishes, there will be a church funeral and graveside service held at a later date when the Canadian border has opened and the virus has subsided, making it safe for all. Date and time to be announced.

Marie and Baxter would like to extend a warm thank-you to the medical staff of the palliative care (hospice) center and infusion therapy department at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, Norris Cotton Cancer Center North in St. Johnsbury, and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. A special thanks to the RNs LPNs and LNAs at the infusion therapy department at the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Red Cross, 29 Mansfield Avenue, Burlington, Vermont 05401.

Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.


Glenda Labrecque

Glenda Labrecque, 61, of Glover, died on March 11 in Glover.

Glenda was born on March 26, 1959, in Newport, to Leo G. and Henrietta (Colburn) Labrecque.

She is survived by her brother Michael Labrecque and his wife, Karla, of California; her stepmother Mary Labrecque of Newport; her stepfather Roy Colburn; her aunts Rita Sylvester of Irasburg and Pauline Patenaude of Newport; and her three nieces and one nephew.

Glenda was predeceased by her mother Henrietta Labrecque; her brother Leo Paul Labrecque; her twin sister Linda and stepfather Roy Callum.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 13, at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Newport. Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.


Virginia “Ginny” E. Hagen

Virginia “Ginny” E. Hagen died on Friday, March 19, at the age of 95. By the time this is read, her fingers will already be stained from blueberry picking.

Growing up in Craftsbury, she developed a real passion for the bounty of its environment.

She graduated nursing school in Boston in 1947 and went on to work at the old Newport Hospital, the Bel-Aire center, and as an at-home nurse, just to name a few of her jobs. Ginny loved providing care to the people of the Northeast Kingdom.

She married Ralph Hagen in 1949 and they moved to Missouri, then to New York, Florida, Montreal, and finally back to Albany, Vermont.

Having a garden was a must for Ginny.  Picking berries and apples were her favorite times.  Cooking made her happy, and entertaining guests sustained her — as it did her guests. She had so many friends. What a beautiful life she led.

Virginia is survived by three children, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Special thanks to the caring people at Michaud Manor and Bel-Aire Center.

Tootle-dee-doo, Ginny.  Tootle-dee-doo.

Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.


Christine Colella

Christine Colella, 67, of Cathedral City, California, died by suicide on March 8 after long battles with childhood trauma, poverty, drug addiction, and declining physical and mental health.

She was born in 1953 in the Bronx, New York, to parents Irene (Gorkisch) Colella and Vincent Colella.

Not long after graduating high school, Christine moved to California and took a job at a hospital.  There, she saw a person hand lettering a sign, and she started scanning the phone book for sign painting gigs.  Almost immediately, she found her place in a high-volume, commercial shop apprenticing under a master sign painter.  She proved her ability to create letters with efficient brushstrokes.   She was precise and fast.

Christine kept up with the best at work and on her motorcycle.  Riding like hell made her proud, and she took risks: cutting between semis on the highway, wheelies, jumps.  As her daughter Maryann said,  “She was a daredevil, and she was good at it.”

In her 40 years as a journeyman sign painter, she painted the signs and backdrops for the Los Angeles Toy Fair, and when the Santa Monica pier reopened after renovation in 1996, Christine’s shop painted every sign in the new amusement park.  She painted several murals including one at the Los Angeles Women’s Center — a scene of women helping each other — that spanned nearly a city block.

More than painting and riding, Christine loved to dance, sew, swim, bicycle, and bake. She loved animals and loved helping houseless people. She was known for bringing food to people on the street as a long-time volunteer for Bridges of Hope, but she also acted from her own place of independence and giving, and she’d often go out on her own to make sure folks (and animals) were fed.  For holidays, she and her daughters would make bag meals and hand them out in Santa Monica.

Christine should be remembered for her generosity.  Sometimes to her own detriment, she would give someone the last bills in her pocket.  She would share anything with anybody, without judgment.  She didn’t see herself as separate from people who were struggling.  She understood people, had lived some of their experiences, and she helped not out of charity but from a place of solidarity and respect.

Christine was a fighter.  She survived a systemic MRSA infection and an above-the-knee amputation in 2016, both the result of a botched knee-replacement surgery.

She was known for speaking her mind.  She had a mouth like a sailor and a heart of gold.  Because of her goodness, despite her difficulties, people loved her.

Christine was predeceased by her parents; her daughter Michera Colella; her siblings Cathy and Carol; her daughters’ fathers Randy Palmisano and Walt Herring; her aunt Incoronata “Millie” Centanni; and her cousin Fred Centanni.

She is survived by her daughter Maryann Incoronata Colella and her wife, Maru Martinez, of Glover and Cayey, Puerto Rico; her grandson James Kelsie Harder Jr.; her son-in-law James Harder; her siblings: Ralph, Roseanne, Vincent, Gerri, Lou, Mac, and Herb; her cousins: Ralph, Pat, and Arthur Centanni; and her nieces and nephews: Scott, Joe, Christy, Christine, Capriccia, R.J., Antonio, Bianca, Jessica, Nick, Joey, Tony, Delilah, Arianna, Yzabel, Jayla, CJ, Laila, Brooklyn, Paxton, Jasper, Hunter, and Ollie.

On Christine’s March 15 birthday, seven days after she died, her niece Jessica had her first baby: Henry Luca Wetzel.

Donations in her honor can be mailed to Well in the Desert, P.O. Box 5312, Palm Springs, California 92263.

Remembrances can be emailed to her daughter Maryann at [email protected].


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