Obituaries September 21, 2016

Harriet (Darby) Downing

Harriet (Darby) Downing died on September 15, 2016, at the age of 91, at her home in Derby Line.

She was born on December 19, 1924, in Newport, to Ruth (Jenne) and Cyril Reading Darby.

She graduated from Derby Academy in the class of 1942, and from Green Mountain College in 1944. Upon graduation she was employed at the National Bank of Derby Line (now Community National Bank). In June of 1947, she married Dalton “Bud” Downing and they took residence in Stanstead, Quebec, before moving to Derby Line. He predeceased her on July 30, 2007.

Ms. Downing was a member of St. Edward’s Catholic Church and sang for many years in the choir. She was a member of the ladies auxiliary.

Ms. Downing was predeceased by her parents Ruth and Cyril; and her brothers and sisters-in-law: Robert and Alberta Darby of Derby Line, and Paul and Beverly Darby of Middleton, Rhode Island.

She is survived by her four children: Michael Downing and his wife, Celeste, of Derby Line, Elizabeth and her husband, Bruce Urie, of Craftsbury, Mary and her husband, Bruce Muir, of Derby Line, and Judith and her husband, Kevin Coy, of Barton; also by her grandchildren: Caitlin Downing and her husband, Jamie Yu, Sarah Nusbaum and her husband, Matt, Amanda Woodey and her husband, Kirk, Timothy Urie and his wife, Faith, Heather Urie, Analesa Muir, Eilish Muir, Andrew Coy and his wife, Lauren, Daniel Coy and his wife, Autumn, Samuel Coy and his wife, Heidi Johnson, and Rachel Malachuk, and her husband, Stephen Malachuk IV. She is also survived by 11 great-grandchildren, with one on the way; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21, at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Derby Line, where a Mass will be celebrated. Interment will follow in St. Edward’s Cemetery in Derby Line.

Should friends desire, contributions in honor of Ms. Downing can be made to the Haskell Library, P.O. Box 337, Derby Line, Vermont 05830, or to the Derby Historical Society, 55 Junior High Drive, Derby, Vermont 05829. Online condolences can be made at curtis-britch.com.

 

Shirley Marie Hemenway

Shirley Marie Hemenway, 93, of Orleans, died peacefully on September 11, 2016 in Newport.

She was born on June 18, 1923, in Irasburg, to Howard and Maybelle (Dion) Kennison. On August 20, 1940, she married Fern Hemenway who predeceased her on December 7, 2015.

She was employed for five years at Ethan Allen Manufacturing. Among her hobbies she enjoyed quilting, making quilts for all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was also a seamstress, an avid reader, and she was well known for her home-made raspberry pies and baked beans. She loved to play cards with family and friends.

She was a special Christmas Club member for 57 years, as she was the last of these members. She was very active in the 4-H Club.

Ms. Hemenway is survived by her children: Hale Fern Hemenway and his wife, Sandra Jean, of Florida, Shirley Devine and her husband, Allan, of Inverness, Florida, Carol Jaing and her husband, Joseph, of Massachusetts, Jacqueline Mei of New York, and Eugene Mei of Colorado. She is also survived by many grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. She was predeceased by her daughter Sandra Lee Wentworth; by five brothers; and one sister.

Funeral services were held on Saturday September 17, at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Orleans, where a Mass was celebrated by the Reverend Timothy Naples. Interment followed in Pleasantview Cemetery in Orleans.

Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the Mary Halo Foundation, 1073 Upper Quarry Road, Newport, Vermont 05855.

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

 

Frederick John Henry Jr.

Frederick John Henry Jr., known to his friends and family as Fritz, died in his sleep during the early morning hours of August 28, 2016, at his home in St. Johnsbury. His peaceful death at age 92 follows by just ten weeks the passing of his spouse, Margaret Andrus Henry, to whom he was married for 64 years.

Mr. Henry will be remembered by all who knew him for the warmth of his deep rolling laugh, and his friendly and humble Midwestern “good people” ways. He was a born storyteller, and a prolific letter writer. Many of his acquaintances recall being surprised and pleased to find themselves being addressed by him as “Friend,” or, more often, as “Pal.”

Born on June 20, 1924, Mr. Henry was raised in Hinsdale, Illinois, the only child of Frederick John Henry and Miriam Florence Daughetee Henry. His mother was the eleventh of 14 children from a farming family. His father was a World War I veteran, who began his working life helping his father run a Harley-Davidson repair shop in Connersville, Indiana, and who then worked the rest of his life as an electrical engineer for the phone company. Mr. Henry’s parents met when Ms. Daughetee took a job as a telephone operator as a teenager, and he was born the year his mother turned 22.

Mr. Henry excelled as a student as a youngster, and participated locally in multiple sports, earning many ribbons in athletic competitions at Cassell’s Boy’s Club, such as “Fancy Diving,” and many other swimming awards. A lifelong golfer, he enjoyed playing golf on weekends with his parents throughout his adolescent years, and was a member of his high school tennis team, his college football team, and his college and medical school diving teams.

Mr. Henry was a 16-year-old senior at Hinsdale Township High School, president of the student council, when he was offered full scholarships at both Williams College and Amherst College. He chose Williams, and had completed his sophomore year there when Harvard Medical School invited him to forgo his next two years of college and enter the medical school as a first-year student. He eagerly accepted, but by then there was a war going on.

Mr. Henry’s time in the Navy during World War II would be the formative experience of his young life. For more than three years he served onboard the LCS-11, an amphibious gunboat known as the “Lucky 11,” rising from communications officer to the rank of executive officer, and receiving combat awards for shooting down kamikazes near Okinawa — “picket patrol,” he called it — and for blowing up mines near what is now Taiwan. He shared with family members that some of his most daunting days had come while helping the ship to ride out a typhoon off the Okinawa coast.

After the war ended, Mr. Henry returned to Williams College on the GI Bill, graduating in 1948. He put his war experiences behind him then, but years later began attending the Lucky 11’s reunions in different cities across the country and renewed his bonds with the gunboat’s officers and crew with whom he’d served so many decades ago, staying in close touch with them into his nineties.

Mr. Henry was working at Macy’s in Manhattan when he met Ms. “Peggy” Andrus, a recent Stanford graduate from Bronxville, New York, who was also employed there. They were married in 1952 and, following stays in New York City and Wichita, Kansas, settled in the suburb of Livingston, New Jersey, with their two daughters, Lucy Anne and Gretchen.

He worked in personnel his entire career, at a series of publishing houses and eventually a consulting firm, attaining a series of executive positions, lecturing and writing on topics of significance in his field, and earning a host of professional honors. Yet Mr. Henry would never allow his job to define his life. Throughout his life, he remained an avid reader, always with a book in his hand, devouring two or three each week. He was an occasional skier, a crossword puzzle enthusiast, a student of early woodworking techniques, a dedicated genealogist and history buff. A steady golfer with a flawless one-iron stroke, he once dissolved into helpless laughter when a Christmas gift of personalized tees rendered his first name as “Firtz.”

He was a staunch supporter of his daughters’ aspirations and education: he was a founding member of the “Support for Excellence in Education” committee in their hometown and served as a trustee at Far Brook School in Short Hills, New Jersey.

After retiring in 1989, he and Mrs. Henry moved to St. Johnsbury, drawn by its scenic beauty, its cultural life, and the warmth and kindness of its citizens. With his full beard and his rich, resonant voice, Mr. Henry would become a familiar figure around town, especially at the Athenaeum and at First Night, when in the dark and the chill he would calmly make his intrepid way, deftly deploying a cane, to see the performers he’d picked out in advance.

He and Mrs. Henry became world travelers, always eager to explore new destinations around the globe. He relished his role as a grandfather, regaling his grandchildren with tales from his war days, or observations on the current political and societal scene gleaned from his many hours of reading the newspaper, his stories frequently punctuated by a booming, merry laugh. For decades, Mr. Henry took great joy in his time at the family-owned island near Newport, where he could read amid nature’s glories while assiduously keeping footpaths free from twigs, debris, and brush. And as he prepared to plunge into the waters of Lake Memphremagog or into the municipal pool in Livingston, relatives would see occasional glimpses of the form that had put him on the varsity swim team at Williams and Harvard, and that, back in 1937, had earned him high honors for “Fancy Diving.”

Mr. Henry is survived and eternally loved by his daughters, Lucy Anne Shrenker of Monson, Massachusetts and Gretchen Henry-Connelly of Los Angeles, California; sons-in-law Paul Shrenker and Chris Connelly; grandchildren Aurelia Shrenker, Ariane Shrenker Christensen, William Shrenker, Tempe Shrenker, Henry Connelly, Rose Connelly, and Gabriel Connelly; his brothers-in-law George Grady and Carl Andrus; his sisters-in-law Georgeann Andrus, Noelle Andrus and Anne Grady; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nephews, and grand-nieces who will never forget his kindly ways and considerate manner. All these, and so many more, will forever hold his memory dear and honor his service to our country.

Mr. Henry’s family’s gratitude goes to the people of St. Johnsbury and to the wonderful people who helped to care for him in recent years.

 

Harold Edward “Red” Kelley Jr.

Harold Edward “Red” Kelley Jr., of Brownington, died suddenly on September 8, 2016, in Portland, Maine.

He was born on May 18, 1940, in Newport, to Harold and Gladys (Shackette) Kelley Sr.

Mr. Kelley was a supervisor for Newport Plastics and later was a bus driver for North Country Union High School.

He enjoyed fishing, hunting, and riding his motorcycle, and loved to travel to Old Orchard, Maine. He was a loving father and grandfather.

He is survived by his daughter Tammy Kelley and her companion, Allen Marsh, of Brownington; by his grandchildren: Justin Lamonda of Newport, Brandie Parks and her husband, Tim, of Texas, Mandie Perry and her husband, Luke, of North Troy, Seanna Kelley and her companion, Shane Barry, of Newport; and by his great-grandchildren: Natalie, Armand, Heidi, Kallie, Kaleb, Shelby-Rae, Destiny, and Xavier.

He is also survived by his sister Joyce Ayer and her husband, Dennis, of Newport; his nephew Michael Cordeau and his wife, Lisa; his niece Kristy Pillsbury and her husband, Jamie, of Jay; and by great nieces Allison and Beth; and by many friends.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 24, at Pine Grove Cemetery in Newport. Online condolences can be made at curtis-britch.com.

 

Nancy June McGivern

Nancy June McGivern, 83, of Newport, died on September 11, 2016, in Newport.

She was born on June 13, 1933, in Newport, to Clinton and Marion (Spear) Fairbrother. Ms. McGivern was a graduate of Newport High School and a life-long resident of Newport. She had resided for a time at the Scenic View Community Care Home in Westfield.

She is survived by her children: Rosalie Putnam of Coolville, Ohio, Eric McGivern of Newport, and Keith McGivern of Derby. She is also survived by her grandson Christopher Putnam of Spencer, West Virginia; by her sister Ellen Graveline of Derby; and by her special friend Carolyn LaRock of Coventry. She was predeceased by her son Brian McGivern.

Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont, 300 Corner Stone Drive, Suite 128, Williston, Vermont 05495.

Services will be held at the convenience of the family.

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

 

Richard “Dick” Roberts

Richard “Dick” Roberts, 82, of Lewiston, Maine, and formerly of Gray, Maine, died on Monday, September 12, 2016, at his home in Lewiston.

He was born in Barton on March 27, 1934, son of Vernon and Sylvia (Perry) Roberts. He received his education in a one-room schoolhouse and high school at Barton Academy, graduating with second honors. He spent his army time in Fort Dix, New Jersey, Fort Gordon, Georgia, and as a high-speed Morse code and teletype operator in Korea. He returned home and worked for E.M. Brown and Son in Barton for 11 years, a job he loved very much.

His greatest love was his special one and only wife, Jeannine (Racicot), who he married after his return from Korea. They both came from farm families so stayed in agriculture until his retirement in 1996 due to health problems. He worked on high-end registered Jersey, Guernsey, and Holstein herds at Wonderview Farm in Barton; Bushy Park Farm in Wake, Virginia; and Wilsondale Farm in Gray, Maine. He then became a professional artificial insemination technician for Eastern A.I., later Genex, in Ithaca, New York, remaining in Maine in his own unit covering parts of York, Cumberland, Oxford and Androscoggin counties. He was Eastern’s overall technician in 1978 in New England and New York, and received many other awards. He always gave his farmers the credit for his success. He enjoyed counting them all as his friends and putting their goals and success ahead of his own. He loved being outside and around nature all those years.

His wife and his family were front and center, and he never felt he enjoyed them enough because he worked long stretches at a time with very few weekends off. But after his retirement, he made up for lost time. His best saying was, “Do your giving while you’re living,” and he and Mrs. Roberts taught their grown children that way. His hobbies were little things like reading, puzzles, travelling the United States, sports (especially at play-off time), playing cards, and seeing his grandchildren grow. He played baseball semi-pro for a while and was known as a better than average hitter, playing centerfield or catching, even winning a batting championship in 1961.

He is survived by his wife and best friend of 57 years, Jeannine; and their four children and their families: Doug and his son Matt, Doug’s wife, Cheryl, and their daughter Abigail; David and his wife, Michelle, and their twins Digby and Wylie; Dan and his son Zachary, and daughter Cordiela; and Diane, and her husband, Mark, and their daughter Madison and son Andrew. He is also survived by one sister, Gertrude Scheer, from Bayside Hills, New York; one brother George, and his wife, Barbara, of Woodbury, Connecticut; and by nieces; nephews; in-laws; and outlaws.

He was predeceased by his parents; a brother Ernest, and his wife, Madeline; and by nephew Jimmy, his godson.

Visitation was held at the Wilson Funeral Home in Gray on September 16.

Donations in Mr. Roberts’ name can be made to the American Heart Association at www.heart.org.

Online condolences can be made at www.wilsonfhllc.com.

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In Brownington: Death investigation underway

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copyright the Chronicle March 30, 2016

State Police say that the body of a Brownington man who was found dead Monday evening was taken to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.   Meanwhile, a death investigation is underway. State Police from Derby responded to a 911 call reporting an unresponsive male at a home on the Evansville Road in Brownington about 8:30 p.m. on Monday. There, they found Kevin Smith, 38, of Brownington. The house is surrounded with crime scene tape, and a State Police cruiser remained at the scene Tuesday, but police had released no further details as of press time.

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An overdue look at a complicated subject

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grief book webcopyright the chronicle September 4, 2013

The Disenfranchised, Stories of Life and Grief When an Ex-spouse Dies, edited by Peggy Sapphire.  Baywood Publishing Company, Inc., Amityville, New York.  Paperback.  217 pages.  $49.95.

Reviewed by Tena Starr

Some time ago a friend called to say that her ex-husband had died.  It was startling, it was sad, of course, and it was unfamiliar ground.

How, I wondered, did she experience her ex-husband’s death?  Obviously she grieved on behalf of her children, but what about herself?

How exactly does one feel about the death of a person once beloved enough that the plan was to spend the rest of life together, but years later is maybe no more than an acquaintance, perhaps even disliked — but still connected through children and mutual history?

These are the questions Peggy Sapphire, a counselor and poet from Craftsbury, sets out to answer in this fascinating book, an anthology of heartfelt, first-person stories written by people who have experienced the death of a former partner.

The Disenfranchised tackles a complex and overlooked subject, one that many will find themselves grappling with as divorce rates climb and the population ages.  As a former spouse, you’re likely not expected to deal with funeral arrangements, burial, or all the other important and, in some ways soothing, rituals that go with death.  If your ex has remarried, perhaps you’re not expected to make more than a perfunctory appearance, maybe none at all.  Personal grief could be slight, or it could be overwhelming.

But in either event, the surviving spouse is often “disenfranchised,” maybe not expected to mourn at all.

“The writers whose work you are about to read were largely left to their own devices as they sought solace or needed compassion as they stood apart — the ‘ex,’” Ms. Sapphire wrote in the preface to the book.  “A few tell of compassionate friends and family, and in one case, an exquisitely sensitive clergyman.  But for most, no such condolence was forthcoming.”

Judging from the stories told in this book, there’s nothing simple about dealing with the death of a former spouse.  The men and women who responded to Ms. Sapphire’s request for their stories tell complicated ones jumbled by a whole stew of emotions:  grief, anger, resentment, relief, guilt, and regret.

There’s Rosemary, for instance, who felt anger at the timing of her ex-husband’s death and its effect on their children — even in death he had managed to disrupt the lives of his children, she said.

She also expressed relief.  “After his death, I just kept telling myself, ‘thank God it’s over,’” she wrote.  “Finally there would be no more havoc wreaked by this man.  There would be aftermath, yes, but nothing freshly complicating coming at us.”

Many of these stories are harsh.  No one goes through divorce unscathed.  Through necessity the essayists here take a look at the marriage itself and the reasons why it died, in many cases an explanation for how the surviving spouse responds to the subsequent death of a former partner.

If there’s any common thread, it’s maybe best illustrated by Elizabeth, who tells the story of her first marriage, the unexpected death of her ex-husband, and the equally unexpected feelings of loss that accompanied it.

They were married young, in the early 1970s, both considering themselves, in their ways, a part of the counterculture of that time.

“He wanted to be a radical, and I wanted to be a hippie,” Elizabeth wrote.  “I saw him as a way to get revenge on my conservative grandparents; he viewed my trust fund with desire.  We played a lot of Scrabble, smoked a lot of dope, and went to college.  Reality set in when our daughter was born in 1975.  It was time to grow up and get jobs, which I did.”

They divorced, went their ways, and changed enough that the once radical young husband was in the process of trying to get his early marriage annulled — infuriating Elizabeth — in order to become a better Catholic, when he suddenly died.

“When I answered the phone and heard my daughter say, “Dad’s dead,’ I actually said, ‘You’re kidding.’”

Elizabeth had hoped for some sort of reconciliation as time passed; now it was too late, and the depth of her grief took her aback.

“Even though you were divorced, there’s a lot of history there,” she wrote.  “The more I let myself feel the more I realized the loss.  There was no one else who remembered when I worked for The Galloping Gourmet.  He was the one who helped me with the first awkwardness of motherhood.

“An entire clump of my life had just disappeared.  It wasn’t until he was gone that I understand how important he’d been to me.”

To complicate matters, no one else grasped how important he’d been either.  The support of family and friends, who would help mourn the death of a spouse, was largely absent in the case of an ex-spouse.

“No friends seemed to understand how the death of someone I’d never even mentioned could hurt so much,” Elizabeth wrote.

Ms. Sapphire is not, herself, dealing with the death of a former spouse, but her ex-husband has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, she said, and chances are good that she will be one of the disenfranchised.

Referring to her children, she wrote, “With their father’s death will come the death of my only companion and witness to the intimacies and circumstances of 17 years of marriage, begun when I was 20 and he was 23…the first marriage for each of us, two pregnancies, first birthings, first parenting anxieties, early poverty, first professional positions, first home and mortgage, first credit card debt, first and continuous arguments about money, first and fatal disenchantments.  These are the thoughts that led to my decision to seek the stories you’ll find here.”

Each of those stories is followed with commentary by Shirley Scott, a grief counselor who takes a look at how and why the essayists here feel the way they do.  The book also notes that a recent report indicates that 78 percent of those who survived the death of a former spouse reported feeling grief.

What a complex subject Peggy Sapphire has so beautifully tackled.  The stories, and the poetry, in this book are deeply personal, well written, often painful, and always enlightening.

contact Tena Starr at [email protected]

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