Obituaries 9.13.2023

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Richard L. Manning


Richard L. Manning, 86, of Lowell, died September 5, 2023, at North Country Hospital, after a brief illness following a fall at his home. At the end of his life, he was surrounded by the love of his caring wife and family and died peacefully. He suffered for many years because of his diabetes, renal disease, and CHF.

Richard was born January 10, 1937, in Morrisville, to Richard Sargent and Thelma Manning. He lived with his grandparents, Morton Charles and Winifred Manning, in Fletcher, for many years. After finishing middle school in Lamoille County, Richard became a lineman at Hyde Park Water and Light Department. He spent a few years learning this trade before entering the U.S. Army in 1955.

He was Army Airborne assigned to Company C, five hundred third Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before being stationed with the Eleventh Airborne Division in southeastern Germany for almost three years. After completing his military service, he returned to the states and spent time in Wyoming as an oil worker.

After a bit of traveling throughout the United States, the call of home brought him back to Vermont in 1960, when he met Gynette Leblanc at a barn dance. It was love at first sight for both (and a love of dancing), leading to their marriage in 1962. This event was followed by the birth of their first child Douglas Charles Manning, their daughter Julie Ann Manning, and their son Shane Richard Manning.

Richard spent many years working his crafts as a lineman and electrician. In the early ’70s, he started a trucking business called P & M Transport. He even made a journey into being a salesman, an occupation in which he was very successful, working his way to truck sales manager at Frawley Chevrolet and then continuing to sales with New York Life Insurance.

He decided to pursue his private pilot’s license in the late ’60s, owned his own plane, and could utilize this as a division manager for the New England states for Penn Line Corporation, traveling back and forth between Maine and Vermont to work. He frequently brought lobster from the docks in Maine for dinner for the family.

A jack of all trades, he built several homes and, in recent years, his beloved barn, which allowed him to work on projects and hobbies at the end of his life. He did woodworking and even fabricated a trailer to transport materials. He loved football, western movies, playing cards, and Scrabble.

Richard is survived by his wife of 60 years, Gynette; by his son Michael Solaris and his wife, Beth, and their three children: Katie, Jeremy, and AJ; by his son Douglas and his wife, Deborah, and daughter Nicole Dean; by his daughter Julie and her husband, Colonel (Retired) Brett Nelson, and their three children: Brittany Nelson and her husband, Dr. Connor Balzer, Taylor Heaton-Nelson and her husband, Eric Heaton-Nelson, and son Conner Nelson; by his son Shane and his wife, Donna, and their daughters Dr. Molly Pepin and her husband, Jason, and Hillary Chase; as well as by his great-grandchildren: Liam, Lux, Sloane, Lana, Remi, and Sebastian.

Richard was blessed with a truly wonderful life, and his family will dearly miss him.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Newport Ambulance Service, P.O. Box 911, Newport, Vermont 05855, or to the Lowell Fire Department, 2534 Vermont Route 100, Lowell, Vermont 05847.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, September 16, at Lowell Parish Hall, Route 58 in Lowell, at noon.


Alicia Vernon Knoll

Alicia Vernon Knoll of Derby, 75, died September 3, 2023, at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

To know her was to love her, remarked a close friend at the news of her passing, which was a sentiment echoed by friends locally and as far as New Zealand.  She was a true lady who meant more to so many than the following words can describe.

She was born to humble beginnings in Waycross, Georgia, the daughter of a mechanic and an artist, and she moved to Jacksonville, Florida, as a child, which would be her home for 45 years.  Her adventurous spirit was on display at an early age, when she borrowed her parents’ Mustang and drove across state lines, only to be pulled over by a Georgia police officer who didn’t appreciate her sass.  She was put in a holding pen to await the local judge but decided to slip out an unlocked window and wait further in the police officer’s vacant chair. The judge and cop were none too pleased and thankfully her parents were able to send the large fine via Western Union to secure her release.

At the age of 21, she met her future husband, Frank Knoll, who had stopped to use her parents’ phone on his way to another date.  It was just one of the many lovely and incredible coincidences that marked her life and three months later at the 1969 Apalachicola Oyster Festival she agreed to marry him.  At the wedding ceremony in Thomasville, Georgia, a less than fully sober justice of the peace presided over their nuptials, at one point asking an empty courthouse if there were any objections.  When her now husband asked the judge if the ceremony had been legal, he remarked, “Well, son, if this ain’t legal, then there are a lot of bastards here in Thomas County.”  So began Alicia and Frank’s love story, which lasted over 53 years.

Alicia returned to Jacksonville, and she joined her new husband in England while he studied for his master’s degree and where she attended London Polytechnic College.  At the completion of their studies, she and Frank joined a fellow graduate student from New Zealand and bicycled across Europe, sleeping in farmers’ fields and enjoying the scenery of France, Portugal, and Spain.  It began what would be a constant theme in her life — traveling to new places and always making new friends along the way.  One of those places was Vermont in the ’70s, which charmed them both but was beyond their means at the time. But the seed of attraction for the Green Mountain State was planted.

Five years later in Jacksonville she welcomed her first child Felix, and four years after that her second son Garrett.  She was made to be a mother.  With her husband, Frank, traveling around the world for work, she took charge in raising the boys and made good friends with their neighbors.  Some of the neighborhood kids would stop by her house first to say hi before heading to their homes after school.  She, Frank, and the boys continued to travel and find adventures.  In the winters, when the boys were old enough, the family started traveling on annual ski trips to Colorado where her hot pink ski jacket crisscrossed the powdered slopes.  In the summers the family would return to Colorado for a few weeks each year including one trip where her husband was driving perilously close to the edge of an unfenced mountain pass.  Terrified, and unsuccessful in getting Frank to drive more safely, Alicia turned to the boys and commanded, “Your father’s lost his mind, get ready to jump.”

Back in Jacksonville, Alicia’s stable of close friends had grown to include neighbors, her husband’s global business associates, friends of friends, and friends of relatives.  Everyone, it seemed, just loved her company and her good humor and she reveled in making them feel welcome and at ease.  She never tired of company, never felt bothered by visitors or phone calls from friends and relatives.  And she liked nicknames, especially one of her friends who took to calling them both Thelma and Louise.  She’d get a call, “Hey, Thelma, it’s Louise, let’s go catch that movie at the local cinema,” where the two of them would sneak in cheese and crackers along with a small bottle of wine.

Her boys got older, went off and eventually graduated college and the military, her husband sold his business, and their gaze turned north toward Vermont.  That Green Mountain seed had grown beyond an idea into a calling for their next chapter.  Alicia, a true southern girl, never liked the cold but Frank promised if they found a home in Vermont, he’d make sure it was warm enough for her.  So, she managed their home in Florida while Frank roamed the Northeast Kingdom looking for a home that would be suitable for Alicia and future Knolls.  When Felix and his wife, Hanan, drove up from New York City to share the news of Hanan’s pregnancy, Alicia couldn’t contain her joy.  She stayed awake all night trying to decide what to be called.  She chose perfectly.  From then on, she would be known as Nana.

They eventually found that perfect home on Derby Pond which had once been a three-season house open in the summers and boarded up in the winters.  Frank stayed true to his word, and they refinished the house together with proper heating and insulation and of course a wood burning stove in the kitchen, just in time for the arrival of their first granddaughter Sasha in 2005.  Friends flocked to Vermont to visit her, and grandchildren began arriving, as well.  Their second granddaughter Layla was born to Felix and Hanan and in 2007, followed by their grandson Derek in 2011.  Nana reveled in a fuller house and summer and holiday visits from the grandkids were always eagerly anticipated by kids and parents alike.

2008 officially heralded in two new arrivals.  The first, the Newport Natural business, saw Alicia’s infectious smile behind a transformed lunch counter, welcoming customers.  The second arrival was the Knoll Barn on Derby Pond.  Painstakingly moved from nearby Irasburg, and reconstructed on their property, the Knoll Barn became a delight for the grandkids but also a wedding venue.  With sweeping views of green fields and Derby Pond, the Barn played host to multiple weddings every year and filled a void for Alicia because she and Frank never had a proper wedding ceremony.

More barns appeared, along with grandchildren born to her son Garrett and his wife, Ashton.  In 2017, they welcomed granddaughter Ella, and grandson Beckett in 2020.  Her sixth and final grandchild Emmett was born in 2021.  There was a natural symmetry in Alicia’s life: three granddaughters, three grandsons, and three barns.

Alicia and Frank’s travels continued.  In fact, her kids joked that Nana and “Gramps” had a busier social life than people half their age. They visited Florida, Argentina, Tasmania, England, Ireland, and Australia.  One trip in India they were in Rajasthan where Frank had been in the Peace Corps.  The hotel convinced them to try an amazing experience, an overnight camping trip in the desert like the Maharajah himself.  They arrived at the start to find two sketchy-looking characters more akin to desert warriors than desert luxury hosts.  As they set off with their taxi driver shaking his head in disbelief, Alicia calmly explained to one of their “guides” that she and Frank were Americans.  “Not good, Alicia!” Frank yelled, “not good!”  When they arrived, not at a desert tent palace but a barren spit of sand, Alicia instructed her host captors to prepare the campsite and their meal.  Her southern charm worked and although they slept on dirty blankets in a makeshift tent, they survived any harm or ill intent.

When Alicia wasn’t traveling or doting on her grandkids she was talking, constantly.  People called her all the time, from her two sons to her old Jacksonville neighbors, to friends in Canada and Australia.  She had two true superpowers, the ability to make friends and to put everyone else ahead of herself, and they came as naturally and effortlessly to her as breathing.  She’d make friends at boot camp, holding a plank longer than people 30 years her junior.  Or she’d make friends with someone after accidentally backing into their car.  No one disliked her.  Everyone felt she was their best friend because she was.

When she was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease in 2019, she endured a grueling drug regimen that sapped her energy and her breath.  But she never stopped smiling, never gave up on staying connected with friends and family.  Even though long conversations could lead to coughing spells, she’d insist, “No, you just keep talking and I’ll listen.”  Friends and family gatherings continued, and she never complained.  Even weakened, she attended her granddaughter Sasha’s high school graduation in New Jersey in June of 2023, and hosted the family for their annual summer gathering, Camp Knoll, in August.  On Sunday, September 3, she died as she would have wanted, surrounded by her family.

She leaves behind her loving husband, Frank; her two sons Felix and Garrett, and their wives, Hanan and Ashton; and of course her darling grandchildren: Sasha, Layla, Derek, Ella, Beckett, and Emmett.  As anyone who knew her could attest, to know her was to love her.  She was Frank’s best friend.  To every one of her many friends, she was their best friend.  And to every child she ever met, she was everyone’s Nana.

In lieu of a funeral service, a celebration of Alicia’s life is planned for her birthday in May 2024.


Dennis M. Gelo

Dennis M. Gelo, 70, of Derby, died peacefully, surrounded by his family at North Country Hospital, on September 6, 2023, after battling pulmonary fibrosis. He was born on January 4, 1953, in Newport.

He graduated from North Country Union High School in 1971.  He spent most of his life working as a train engineer for the railroad. After retiring, he worked custodial maintenance at North Country Union Junior High School.

He loved trap shooting, reloading, riding his motorcycle, playing the guitar, going to the beach, and spending time with his family.

He was loved by so many.  His personality radiated humor, sarcasm, and an abundance of love. Everyone who encountered him left his presence with laughter or a smile. He was an amazing man.

He is survived by his loving wife, Patricia; by his son Derik Gelo and his wife, Karen; by his daughter Erica Papaleo and her husband, Paul.  He was blessed with four beautiful grandchildren: Trenton Gelo and his wife, Lauren, Rachel, Tyler, and Anthony Papaleo. He is also survived by his sisters: Gayle Gelo and her husband, Doug, and Bonnie Benware and her husband, Roger.

Dennis was predeceased by his parents, Malcolm and Peggy Gelo, and by his brother Kevin Gelo.

The family is thankful to the staff at North Country Hospital.

A celebration of life will be held from 4 to 7 p.m., on September 15, at the Eastside Restaurant.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Dennis’s name to North Country Hospital or Derby Fish and Game Club.


Daniel Brian Basford

Daniel Brian Basford, 48, of Orleans, died unexpectedly and way too soon on August 31, 2023, at his home.

Dan was born in Newport on February 21, 1975, to the late Brian and Linda (Brown) Basford. His big sister Donna was so excited to welcome her little blue-eyed baby brother, and their little family was complete.

Dan grew up in Orleans and lived there his whole life. He went to Orleans Elementary School and graduated from Lake Region Union High School in 1994.

Dan was an extremely talented artist and could draw or paint anything. His drawings and paintings will be kept and cherished forever. Besides drawing and painting, Dan loved Magic Cards, Dungeons and Dragons, playing video games, reading, watching movies, and music.

Dan is survived by his big sister Donna Basford and her partner, Pete Judd; by his nephew Dakota Green, niece Ashlea Green and her fiancé, Aaron Sheltra, and their soon-to-be new bundle of joy due in a month. He is also survived by his four-legged nephew Sherlock Holmes and his niece Violet Lou.

He is also survived by the following aunts and uncles: aunt Gloria White, aunt Lorraine Gilfillan, aunt Faye and uncle Kenneth Stocker, aunt Gail Brown, uncle Blaine and Pearla Brown, and aunt Sherry and uncle Dennis Ingalls. He is also survived by many cousins and friends.

He was predeceased by his parents, Brian and Linda Basford; by both his paternal grandparents Edson and Ethel Basford and both his maternal grandparents Floyd and Doris Brown; and by many uncles and aunts. Dan was also predeceased by one of his closest and longtime friends Travis Bent. The loss of Travis was huge for Dan, who carried some of Travis’ ashes with him since that time; they will be buried with Dan.

A letter from Dan’s sister Donna: “Danny, my ‘Baby Bubba’ and only sibling, I will miss you forever and life will never be the same without you in it. A part of me is gone, but in time I will learn to live with the ‘new normal.’ I am trying to find some comfort during this terrible time that you are once again with Mom and Dad, as well as all our other family we have lost, including our four-legged Furbaby family members. You are now at peace. Rest in peace, Baby Brother, until we meet again, save me a place. Love always and forever, your Big Sister.”

People should make that phone call to a loved one, stop and see them, if even for a short visit, and not put it off until tomorrow, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

From a song by Will Dempsey: “I don’t know why God always takes the good ones first and man I’ve tried to be strong and carry on, but damn this hurts. And I just wish that I could talk to you again somehow, some way, even if it’s for a moment, so I can hear you say, don’t cry for me I’m alright. I’m better than you know. This life can be a short ride, so don’t waste it on sorrow. Just hold on to those moments and memories we shared. We’re both headed for the same place anyway, I just beat you there.”

Dan’s burial will be Friday, September 15, at 11 a.m., at the Pleasant View Cemetery in Orleans, with Pastor David Lisner officiating. There will be a celebration of life for Dan on Saturday, September 16, starting at noon at the Municipal Building in Orleans.  All are welcome to both events.

In lieu of flowers, friends may donate in Daniel’s memory to a local food shelf.

Online condolences may be made at


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