Curtis Walker died peacefully on February 11, 2023, at the age of 78. He was surrounded and embraced in love during his final journey by his loving wife and sons.
He was a good man.
To those who knew him, that is how Curtis Walker will always be remembered. Synonymous with all that is good and steady, as strong as he was gentle, as ready for peace as he was for pursuit of the hard-to-fix, the never-too-small detail, the “whatcha-mah-call-ems” of the world, and the unending putter of daily triumphs that brought joy to all who encountered him.
If you asked him, he would have told you that he was raised in Underhill. But you wouldn’t have had to ask. Vermont was written all over him. He wore the state about his person like he wore his sweet, lopsided smile. The lakes, the fields, and the early winter frost gathered together in his eyes when he spoke. He talked with his hands because they were part of the story: the hands of a farmer, a splicer, a dancer, a husband, father, grandfather, and a friend.
He was raised on a dairy farm in the shadow of Mount Mansfield as the youngest of four boys. In the summers he would run the length of the old man’s face from chin to nose and be back home by dinner. Curt graduated from Essex High School in 1963 and attended Vermont Technical College before marrying his high school love, Sandra Walker, née Couture, in 1965. They made a home for themselves in South Burlington until 1974. During this time, they had three boys: Greg, Michael, and Jason. Curt had various jobs around Burlington until landing a position as splicer with AT&T in 1970. He stayed with AT&T and its various spinoffs and eventually retired from Verizon in 2003 after 33 years of dedicated work.
While raising his family some of his most enjoyable times were forged while camping with friends and family throughout the north and southeast. It was this love of the road and unseen beauty which motivated Curt and Sandy to sell everything and “hit the road” upon his retirement in 2003. Some of his most memorable adventures occurred over the next 10 and a half years while being full-time RV-ers. They visited all lower 48 states in their RV and the other two via boat and plane. Friends and family joined them, when possible, on their journey, thus making the memories sweeter.
While on the road one of Curt’s favorite things to do was to pull on his cowboy boots, don his cowboy hat, put Sandy on his arm, find the best honky-tonk, and two-step the night away. Sandy taught him many things over the years — how to ski, how to swim — but they learned to dance together. Like everything else in life, they did this as partners. If you were lucky enough to be among the many whom they taught to dance, then it is likely that you will remember his soft voice repeating over the sway of Alan Jackson: quick-quick, slow-slow. Though he always seemed to enjoy the slow most of all.
After ten years on the road Curt and Sandy decided to trade in the full-time RV lifestyle for a nice adobe in Deming, New Mexico. His passion for dancing continued and they made many friends two-stepping in the desert. He passed many a sunny day tinkering in the yard, lending a helping hand to neighbors, and moving plants that probably didn’t need to be moved. Then moving them again.
During the hot months of the desert Curt and Sandy traveled back to the Kingdom and camped at Prouty Beach. During their years at Prouty they made lasting friendships with their fellow campers. As with all places that he called home, he leaves a little of himself along the shores of Lake Memphremagog. These tokens of his time are as thoughtful and quiet as he was: a bench that will hold you as you look out over the water or a fruit tree planted in just the right spot to enjoy the afternoon shade. All he wanted from them was the satisfaction of a job well-done and the humble pleasure of knowing that he left the day a little better than he found it.
He is survived by his wife, Sandra; by his sons Gregory, Michael, and Jason; by his grandchildren Cyrus, Ryley, and Bailey; by his brothers Craig and Calvin; by his nieces and nephews Matt, Jeff, Janet, and Nicole; and by his sisters-in-law Deb, Kathy, and Cindy.
He was predeceased by his parents, Christian and Clara, by his brother Christian Jr., and his very good friend and brother-in-law Mark Couture.
He rests now, rather like the old man in the mountain that he climbed as a child — a solemn face turned up to the sky, nose protruding towards the heavens as he contemplates the stars, never speaking, but always listening to those below who will pass along his stories.
A celebration of Curt’s life will be held at Prouty Beach campground at a yet to be determined date this summer.
Betty-Jane Durkee, 90, of Lake Placid, Florida, and formerly of Newport, died on February 28, 2023, at the Oaks at Avon in Avon Park, Florida, with her daughter by her side. Betty-Jane was born on June 17, 1932, in Lynn, Massachusetts, to the late Frank and Eleanor Spates.
In 1945, the Spates family moved from Lynn to Newport to buy and operate what was to become Spates the Florist. Betty-Jane (along with her Boston accent, which remained deeply ingrained all her life) finished school in Newport and graduated from Newport High School in 1950.
She worked for a period of time at C.R. MacLean, Inc., followed by a stint at Butterfield’s. On September 2, 1956, she married George A. Durkee of Andover, Massachusetts, and together they became the parents to three children: Gary, Todd, and Tammy.
Betty and George established Durkee’s Market on East Main Street in Newport, which they operated until it closed in 1978. Ever the entrepreneurs, she and George owned and operated seven lakefront cottages as well as a couple of apartment buildings. After the Durkee’s Market era, Betty spent several years as the voice on the phone at Spates the Florist, which was then owned and operated by her brother Doug, and finished her working career as the business manager at Sacred Heart High School.
Always civic minded, Betty became a member of the North Country Union High School board and served conscientiously from 1971 to 1977. In 1978, she won a seat on the Newport City Council and served there until 1982. In 1982, she became Newport’s first female mayor and served in that position until 1985. The Newport City bandstand was one of her favorite initiatives, and upon its completion it was dedicated to her as well as long time beloved local band director “Bud” Seguin.
After the death of her husband in 1991, Betty moved to Tequesta, Florida, where she spent many wonderful years sharing a condo with her cousin Beverly Richardson Trow. She was able to remain there for several years following Bev’s death in 2015, but problems with her health caused her to move to Lake Placid, Florida, to live with her daughter in 2018. In February of 2020, when more physical care was necessary, she became a resident at Oaks at Avon in Avon Park, where she lived until her death.
Betty was predeceased by her husband, George; by her parents, Frank and Eleanor Spates; by her brother Frank Spates Jr. and his wife, Jeannette; by her brother William Spates; and by her son Gary Durkee.
She is survived by her son Todd Durkee of Exeter, New Hamphshire, and her daughter Tammy Dopp of Lake Placid, Florida; by her sister Joyce Stanwood of Newport, her brother Douglas Spates and his wife, Vivian, of Derby, her sister-in-law Hilda Spates of Lynn, and her brother-in-law Jay Stanwood of Hooksett, New Hampshire.
She leaves seven grandchildren: Jennifer (Chad) Binette, Jolene Durkee, Karisa Durkee, Tiffany (Lance) Berry, Christina (Ryan) Blakeman, Ashley (Joshua) Clinger, and Bradley Dopp; three nieces whom she thought of as grandchildren: Andrea (Andrew) Carbine, Elia Spates, and Alicia Spates; as well as seven great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.
There will be a memorial service to celebrate her life at the United Church of Newport on August 12, at 11 a.m., with visitation one hour prior to the service.
Donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Newport Rotary Club Foundation, P.O. Box 166, Newport, Vermont 05855, where the tax-deductible funds will be used for local Rotary programs.
Pauline Therese DeLaBruere
Pauline Therese DeLaBruere, 88, of Irasburg, died on March 4, 2023, at her home. She was born on December 9, 1934, in Quebec, to the late John and Elmarilda (Breault) Ducharme.
Pauline worked as a dairy farmer for most of her life. She enjoyed gardening, reading Danielle Steele romance novels, playing cards and dominoes, and loved her casino adventures. For many years her home was always open to her children and grandchildren. She always had the coffee on, plenty of snacks, and she would make her family feel like they were more important than anything else in life. Her family came first. In recent years her greatest passion was spending time reading her French Bible.
She is survived by her children: Donald Cotnoir and his wife, Noella, Francine Cotnoir and her husband, Remi, Rejeanne McBreauirty and her husband, Elbridge, Yvette Patenaude and her husband, Norman, Richard Cotnoir and his wife, Dinah, and Denise and Larry Royer; by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a great-great-grandchild; by her sister Theresa Peterson and her husband, Pete, sister-in-law Irene Ducharme, and by many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was predeceased by her first husband, Marcel Cotnoir, who was father of her eight children, by her second husband, Maurice DeLaBruere, by her daughters Doris Ryan and Linda Drageset, and by her brother Andre Ducharme.
Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m., on Friday, March 10, at the Curtis-Britch and Bouffard Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Derby.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., on Saturday, March 11, at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Newport, with Father Curtis Miller officiating, where a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated.
Spring interment will be held at St. Theresa’s Cemetery in Orleans.
Memorial contributions in Pauline’s name may be made to the Mary Wright Halo Foundation, 1073 Upper Quarry Road, Newport, Vermont 05855.
Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.
Paul E. Chicoine
Paul E. Chicoine, 91, of Newport, died on March 1, 2023, in Newport. He was born on March 9, 1931, in Upton, Quebec, to the late Raoul and Philomene (Pare) Chicoine. On August 13, 1955, Paul married Alice Blais, who survives him.
Paul owned and operated his own farm with his wife, Alice, for many years before going on to work for 16 years at Columbia Forest Products and three years at Kraft Foods. He enjoyed traveling with Alice, ice fishing, and maple sugaring.
He is survived by his children: Lorette Hohenshelt of Utah, Rejeanne Gilding and her husband, Mark, of St. Albans, Claude Chicoine of Newport, Bernard Chicoine of Virginia, Adrien Chicoine and his wife, Rose, of Arizona, Gisele Cook and her husband, Steve, of Washington, and Lucille Chicoine of Barre; by 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; by his brother Juliene Chicoine, and sisters Rita Laroque, Yvonne Cabana, Agathe Pare, Aline Daviau, Claire Sefkind and her husband, Nathan, Nicole Chicoine, and Michele Laliviere and her husband, Rejean, all of Quebec, Canada, as well as sisters-in-law Therese and Pauline Chicoine of Quebec, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his sister Cecile Vanier, brothers Henri, Louis, and Gerard Chicoine, sister-in-law Louise Chicoine, brothers-in-law Gene Pare, Fernand Daviau, and Paul-Emile Cabana.
Funeral services will be held in the spring.
Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.
Rupert C. Chamberlin
Rupert C. Chamberlin of Barton died on February 26, 2023, at the age of 88, after a recent decline in health. He was born on December 24, 1934, in Barton, to Max and Linnie Chamberlin, who predeceased him. He was also predeceased by his brother Harris and his wife, Edna, and by his sister Vivian Brown and her husband, Foster. Rupert married Muriel Rocheleau on November 25, 1960, to whom he was blessed to be married for 62 years. Together, they had two children, Timothy and Tammy.
Rupert was a dedicated farmer. He purchased his first registered Jersey in 1947 for his first 4-H dairy project. He started showing at the Orleans County Fair that year with one animal and continued to show at that fair for many years, along with other local fairs. He graduated from Barton Academy in 1952, and attended the Vermont School of Agriculture (now known as Vermont Technical College) for one year, graduating second in his class. He came home to farm, formed a partnership with his parents in 1954, and purchased the farm in 1959. Over the following years, he and his wife, with the help of their children, developed a herd of registered Jerseys that was well-known and respected throughout the Northeast. Their favorite family pastime was exhibiting cattle at shows throughout Vermont and New England, where they established many lifelong friendships and found many young people to mentor.
Rupert served his community in many ways. He served on the Barton School Board and was a Barton Town Selectman for 21 years. He served on various committees for the Barton United Church. He served on the Welcome O. Brown Cemetery Committee and as its chairman. He served on the Orleans County District Soil Conservation Board, including serving as chairman, for several years. He had various roles at the Orleans County Fair, including superintendent of cattle, director, vice-president, and president. He served as president of the Orleans County Farm Bureau and as president of the Vermont Farm Bureau for 12 years. He was an active member of the Vermont Jersey Breeders Association and served as a member of several committees and as president. He also served as president of the New England Jersey Breeders Association. He was a director on the Yankee Farm Credit Board. He was actively involved in the Orleans County Maple Association and helped plan the State Maple-rama Meeting.
Over the years, he was honored with numerous awards and recognitions for his accomplishments and contributions, including being inducted with his wife into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2017, and receiving the Orleans Lions Club Citizen of the Year Award in 2010. His involvement in organizational leadership gave his family several opportunities to travel to national meetings, which was always a time they cherished. Rupert and Muriel also traveled extensively after their retirement. Other retirement pastimes included attending Lake Region Union High School basketball games and music performances.
Rupert is survived by his wife, Muriel; by his son Timothy and his partner, Heidi Brown, by his daughter Tammy and her husband, Neil Wiggett, and by his grandchildren: Seth Wiggett, Emily Wiggett and her partner, Johnathon Duquette, and Jared Wiggett. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews: Terry Chamberlin and his wife, Kathy, Valerie Hinton and her husband, Dale, Dale Hanson and his wife, Diane, his niece’s husband, Alfred Carrier, and by several great-nieces and great-nephews. He was predeceased by his nephew, Ulric Chamberlin, and by his nieces Barbara Carrier and Linda Calloway.
The family will hold a private service at their convenience and will host a celebration of life for the community later this summer.
Donald M. Buschman
At 99 years young, Donald M. Buschman died peacefully at the Respite House in Colchester on January 29, 2023, with his family by his side. The world has lost another hero of the “greatest generation.”
Don was born on August 29, 1923, in New York City, to Herman and Tillie Buschman. He graduated from the Farmingdale Institute for Agriculture in 1942, then attended Cornell University. After enlisting in the U.S. Army in October 1942, Don was a forward artillery observer in the American Division in the Pacific Theater. He served in campaigns in Bougainville and the Philippines, finishing the war in Japan. Though proud of his service, Don did not often talk of his time in the Pacific.
Honorably discharged in October of 1945, he returned to and graduated from Cornell in 1947, then received his master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Florida in 1949.
After purchasing and running a farm in New York for several years, in the late 1950s Don moved to northern Vermont to manage the Eagle Point Farm in Derby, remaining there until it ceased operation. In 1965 he married Lucile (Wood) Harper. They bought a home in Derby Line where they lived for over 50 years. Lucile died in 2011.
Many Vermonters throughout the state remember Don as the manager of the Newport branch of the Farmers Home Administration, providing Northeast Kingdom families the opportunity to purchase their homes and farms via the lending program, now the United States Department of Agriculture. Upon retirement, he ran his own farm appraisal business until he was well into his 80s.
Don was active in many civic capacities in Derby Line, including on the select and cemetery boards, as a lister, and he also served on the Haskell Free Library and Opera House board of directors for many years. Don enjoyed hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, swimming, and walking. He also had a passion for good food.
Don could be gruff at times, but was always kind, fair, and very witty, as well as intelligent with an excellent memory. Honest to the point of bluntness, he had a true old fashioned “grit” that served him well. Moving to the Burlington area in 2017 to be near family, Don maintained a very independent lifestyle to the end.
He was survived by his dear four-month older cousin Bernice Klein of Palm Beach, Florida, who just died on February 24.
He is survived by his late wife’s children: Linda Ryan and her husband, Ted, of Shelburne, and James Harper and his wife, Linda, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition, he had three grandchildren: Jennifer Ryan, Stephanie Ryan, and Eileen Harper, and a great-grandson Schyler Ryan.
A celebration honoring the life of Donald M. Buschman will be held on June 15, at 1 p.m., at the Curtis-Britch Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Derby.
Calling hours will be Wednesday, June 14, from 1 to 3 p.m., and 6 to 8 p.m., at the Curtis-Britch and Bouffard Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Derby.
Burial with military honors to follow the service at the Derby Line Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Don’s memory may be made to the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, P.O. Box 337, Derby Line, Vermont 05830.
Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.
Michael Brunelle, 60, died February 28, 2023, after a long illness.
Michael was born July 13, 1962, in St. Johnsbury, to Frank and Lorraine Brunelle.
He graduated from Lake Region Union High School in Orleans in 1981. He was a fixture in his hometown of Barton, working at several local businesses during his lifetime.
He enjoyed football and baseball, especially the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox.
Michael is survived by his sister Fran Sargent and her husband, Bill, of Christiansburg, Virginia; by his nephew Chris Sargent and family of Wallingford, Connecticut; and by his niece Andrea DeLaura and her family of San Diego, California.
He is also survived by his dear friends who were so supportive during his illness: Mike Tanguay, Mike and Julie Healy, the Thibeault family, Sara Davies Coe and the whole Davies family for all their love and support during this difficult time, and especially Pam Poginy for all the loving care that she showed for Mike.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Lorraine Brunelle.
A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m., on Monday, May 8, at Mount Calvary Cemetery in St. Johnsbury.
Online condolences may be made at curtis-britch.com.
Henry Gile Blanchard Jr.
Henry Gile Blanchard Jr., 97, died unexpectedly at home in White River Junction on March 1, 2023.
He was born December 3, 1925, in Hanover, New Hampshire, a son of Henry G. and Grace (Carter) Blanchard. Following his graduation from Hartford High School, Henry enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17 to serve in World War II. During the war he served in the Pacific Theatre and was stationed in Guam for much of the war.
He was honorably discharged in 1946 as a corporal and returned home to marry his sweetheart, Jane Henderson. They made their home in White River Junction, where they raised their four children and were married for sixty-five years until Jane’s death in 2011.
Henry later served in the Army Reserves from 1956 until 1959. After his honorable discharge from the USMC, Henry worked for a time as a mechanic at Roger’s Garage in Hanover, before beginning his nearly 30-year career with the U.S. Post Office, retiring as an injury compensation specialist in 1986.
Henry was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2571 and the American Legion, both in White River Junction, as well as the Hartford Elks, and was a lifetime member of the Hartford Rod and Gun Club. He enjoyed reading, especially Reader’s Digest and books on military history. He also enjoyed gardening and hunting with family and friends. Above all, Henry was a cherished family man, who was deeply loved.
He was predeceased by his wife, Jane, in 2011; by his son Robert “Rob” in 2000; by two brothers Richard and Jack, and his sister Gloria.
He is survived by his children: Rick Blanchard (Rachel) of West Glover, Jill McKay (Daniel) of Centerville, Massachusetts, and Cindy Potter (Chris) of White River Junction; by his grandchildren: Kristopher, Kevin, Jaci, Kali, Whitni, Linsi, Thomas, and Cassie; by 14 great-grandchildren; by his sister Melva, and by several nieces and nephews.
A private service will be held at the convenience of the family, with burial with his wife and son in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in White River Junction.
Condolences to Henry’s family may be made in an online guestbook at knightfuneralhomes.com.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Special Olympics Vermont, 16 Gregory Drive #2, South Burlington, Vermont 05403.