Obituaries November 30, 2016

Gaston J. Lefebvre

Gaston J. Lefebvre, 87, died peacefully at his home in Derby on November 21, surrounded by his loving wife and children.

He was born January 13, 1929, in Stanstead, Quebec, as the fourth child of Elphage and Maria (Beniot) Lefebvre.

On June 10, 1950, Mr. Lefebvre and Rita (Veilleux) married and moved from Quebec to Holland to build their life together on a dairy farm while raising eight children. Upon retiring from their farm in 1979, they moved to Newport, where they owned and operated the White Cap Laundromat for 26 years.

In retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Lefebvre became snowbirds, enjoying Seminole, Florida, for 27 winters, and making many friends while golfing, bowling, shuffleboarding, and playing cards, and continued their friendships and activities in the summer months at their home in Derby.

Mr. Lefebvre’s sense of humor brought laughter to many, and he was known for his strong work ethic, strength of character, and always thinking of others.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Rita Lefebvre; and by his children: Andre Lefebvre and his wife, Sherry, of Morgan, Robert Lefebvre and his wife, Mindy, of Port Charlotte, Forida, Ivan Lefebvre and his wife, Gerri, of West Chesterfield, New Hampshire, Denise Sykes and her husband, Ken, of Morgan, Raymond Lefebvre and his wife, Diane, of Laurel, Maryland, Mark Lefebvre, of Milton, and Lynn Petry and her husband, Damian, of New London, New Hampshire; and by son-in-law Bill Worth, of Newport.

Mr. Lefebvre is also survived by 18 of his beloved grandchildren with their spouses; and 15 great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his loving daughter, Sylvie Worth in 2003; by his parents; a brother; and two sisters; along with many others he valued in his lifetime.

Calling hours will be held on Friday, December 2, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home, located at 4670 Darling Hill Road in Newport.

The funeral will be held at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Derby Line on Saturday, December 3, at 11 a.m. There will be a procession from the funeral home to the church for anyone wishing to join the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Edward’s Catholic Church.

Online condolences may be made at


Robert Bruce McKay

In the early morning hours of November 24, 2016, Robert Bruce McKay died quietly at Maple Lane Nursing Home in Barton with family at his side. Bruce, as he was known, was 89 years old.

Mr. McKay was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 22, 1927, at Lying-In Hospital. He was the first child of Myrtle Adams and Alexander Roy McKay.

As a child, he lived in Quincy, Massachusetts, before moving to Holden, Massachusetts, when he was 11 years old. While there, he was a member of the First Baptist Church of Holden. After graduating from Holden High School, he attended Wilbraham Academy, one of the 15 oldest preparatory schools on the east coast. Mr. McKay graduated from Eastern Illinois University, with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry.

In 1939, he joined the Boy Scouts and eventually became scoutmaster to Troop #182 in Holden — a position he held for nearly two decades. He was happy teaching young scouts to explore and thrive in the outdoors with fellow scout leaders Herb Holmes, Al Court, and Walt Koenig. Their rainy camping trips made for legendary stories.

Mr. McKay also spent many years as a volunteer on the Holden Fire Department. As a high school student, he gleefully left school whenever the siren rang as so many of the town’s firemen were serving in World War II.

Near the end of the war, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, which became the U.S. Air Force at the conclusion of the war, making Mr. McKay a charter member of the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in Hawaii and in Guam, earning the rank of corporal.

Mr. McKay worked in real estate with his father at A. Roy and R. Bruce McKay Real Estate before beginning his 20-year teaching career at Westboro High School where he was genuinely fond of his students. After retiring from teaching, he enjoyed working for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Among Mr. McKay’s many passions were hunting, fly fishing (tying his own flies), and photography. He studied at the Maine Photographic Workshop. He loved to take road trips across the United States, to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and to Scotland. He enjoyed woodworking, creating wonderful nooks and crannies in his home, building unique and functional kitchen cabinets, and crafting fun trinkets for his grandchildren. Mr. McKay was also active in the Stepfamily Association of America. He was proud of his Scottish heritage and was a member of Clan MacKay, USA.

In 1995, following his retirement, Mr. McKay moved to North Troy. He was active on the North Country Union High School Board and he served as a town lister.

Mr. McKay was a thirty-second degree Mason, a past Master of Union Lodge #16 Free and Accepted Masons of Troy, and Deputy District Grand Master of the tenth Masonic district composed of seven lodges in the Northeast Kingdom.

Mr. McKay was preceded in death by: his first wife, Jean Court, in 1961; his son David Bruce McKay; his son-in-law Peter Brewer; and granddaughter Courtney LaFrance.

He is survived by Anne Clowes of North Troy, his beloved wife of 54 years with whom he raised their children. Mr. McKay also leaves three sons: Donald McKay and his wife, Sherri, of Montague, Massachusetts, Scott McKay and his partner, Wendy Ong, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Keith McKay and his wife, Christine, of Los Angeles, California. He is also survived by four daughters: Linda Brewer of Rutland, Massachusetts, Judith Lowry of Ozark, Missouri, Jennifer Kennison and her husband, Dana, of Montgomery, and Gail Lacey and her husband, Phil, of St. Petersburg, Florida. He also leaves Lynn Bissett of Coventry, Connecticut, Michael Lowry of Nevada, Missouri, and Laura Need, M.D., of Arlington, Massachusetts.

Twelve grandchildren were lucky to call Mr. McKay their grandpa: Joshua Lowry and his wife, Rachel, Jesse McKay, Matthew B. Howrey and his wife, Michelle, Brianne McKay, Matthew Brewer, Carly Allen and her husband, Randy, Whitney (Lyra) McKay, Danielle McKay, Colin Lacey, Grady Kennison, Parker McKay, and Alexander McKay. He is also survived by nine great-grandchildren. Mr. McKay leaves his cherished sister Janel Carlson; his niece Krista Vinkemulder of Atlanta, Georgia; nephew Charles Vinkemulder and his wife, Lisa Scali; niece Sara Spidle and her husband, Ronald, all of Portland, Maine; brother-in-law John “Jack” Court and his wife, Sally, of Southington, Connecticut; many other nieces, nephews, and cousins, including his cousins in Prince Edward Island; his good friends William and Susi Kinsloe-Byers; and Mr. McKay’s longtime neighbor Herbert Holmes.

He will be remembered for his kindness and his sense of humor.

Calling hours will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. A Masonic funeral service will be held on Sunday, December 4, at 1 p.m. Both will be located at Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Newport.

A memorial service and interment will be in Holden later in the spring of 2017.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to C.A.R.E., a Masonic charity organization helping to identify at-risk children, 43 East Road-Berlin, Barre, Vermont 05641, or to The Alzheimer’s Association Research Division, 480 Pleasant Street, Watertown, Massachusetts 02472.

Online condolences may be sent to the family through the funeral home website at


Richard E. Messier

Richard E. Messier, 77, of Irasburg, died suddenly on November 24, 2016, in Newport.

He was born on December 30, 1938, in Franklin, to Elphege and Hilda (Garrow) Messier. On May 9, 1959, he married Joyce Lawson, who predeceased him on November 16, 1999.

He graduated from Newport Center High School. He was a dairy farmer all of his life on the family farm in Irasburg. His hobbies included hunting, fishing with Jim Greenwood, gardening, mowing his lawn, and in his younger years, square dancing with Joyce.

He is survived by his companion, Margaret Meunier, and her family of Newport Center; by his children: Clifford Messier of Brownington, Tammy Charland and her husband, Donald Jr., of Derby, Kenny Messier and his wife, Ann Marie, of Evansville, and Leonard Messier and his wife, Robin, of Lowell; by his daughter-in-law Jean Messier of Newport Center; by his grandchildren: Shaun Messier of Holland, Rodney Messier of New Hampshire, April Messier of Michigan, Derrick Charland of Newport Center, Jeff Charland of Derby, Katie Charland of Derby, Jessica Messier of Newport, Scott Messier of New York State, Tracy Messier of Newport, Amy Grady of Orleans, Sarah Fleurie of Barton, Adam Messier of Newport, and Sarah Fournier of Lowell; and by 22 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters: Jeannette Davis and her husband, Landon, of New York State, Pauline Pooler of Newport, Diane Geoffrey of Lowell, Pat Royer and her husband, Gerry, of Derby; and by many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by his son Michael Messier on November 7, 2005.

Funeral services were held on November 29 at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Orleans where a Mass was celebrated by the Reverend Timothy Naples. Spring interment will be in Coventry Village Cemetery.

Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the charity of one’s choice. Online condolences can be made at


Beverly Jean Cleary Paris

Beverly Jean Cleary Paris, 85, of Lyndon Center died peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family, on November 16, 2016, following a lengthy period of declining health.

She was born in Lyndon on December 9, 1930, the daughter of Edward L. and Emma E. (Dana) Cleary. Mrs. Paris was a lifelong resident of Lyndon. She attended Lyndon Corner Elementary School and graduated from Lyndon Institute in 1949.

On March 2, 1956, she married Lanny R. Paris, with whom she shared 60 cherished years. Mr. and Mrs. Paris had two children, Gary and Rhonda.

She was a homemaker, but worked in the Lyndon Corner Elementary School hot lunch program while her children attended school there. Later, she worked at the Colonnade Inn and at Bag Balm.

During her childhood, she spent every summer at the family’s camp at Shadow Lake in Glover. She truly enjoyed entertaining friends and family, and preparing meals to share with all who visited. Mrs. Paris loved anything to do with the lake: fishing, boating, waterskiing, or just floating in the water. She also enjoyed playing many lawn games with her family.

She was a loving daughter, wife, mother, sister, and aunt.

She is survived by her husband, Lanny; her daughter Rhonda Paris; her son Gary Paris and his companion, Shawna Wilkerson, all of Lyndon Center; and her sisters-in-law Sally Baillargeon, and Jean Conn; and several special and close nieces and nephews.

Mrs. Paris was predeceased by her parents; her husband’s parents, Dorothy S. King and Murray F. Paris; her sister Barbara Cleary Cameron; and brother-in-law George Gordon Cameron Jr.

At her request, there will be no visiting hours. A private graveside service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations made in her memory may be directed to Caledonia Home Health and Hospice, 161 Sherman Drive, St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819, or to the Upright Steeple Society, P.O. Box 224, Lyndon Corners, Vermont 05849.

Condolences may be shared privately with the family at


Fred Ellie Stevens

Fred Ellie Stevens, 60, of Brownington, beloved husband to Lila (Westmore) Stevens, died on November 22, 2016, in Newport.

He was born on March 4, 1956, in Newport. He was the son of Hiram and Norine (Clark) Stevens.

Mr. Stevens was the owner of Willoughby River Dog Supply.

He was a member and past president of the Northeast Kingdom Coon and Cat Club. He enjoyed hunting, feeding the birds, going to yard sales, and spending time with the loves of his life — his grandchildren.

He was a very big-hearted man who would give anyone a hand.

He is survived by his wife, Lila Stevens; and their children: Dana Stevens and his wife, Amanda, William Stevens, Wendy Sicard and her husband, Gary, and Rockwell and his companion, Allison Douglas. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Shane, Cayden, Cotter, Ava, Emmy Lou, and Lydia Stevens, and Cassandra, Joshua, and Daniel Sicard; and by his great-grandchildren: Savanah Sicard, and Addie and Alexis Sicard; by his brother Mark Stevens; and by many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

He was predeceased by his parents and his sister Velma.

A service was held on Monday, November 28, at the Westmore Community Church.

Burial will take place in the spring.

If friends desire, memorial contributions may be made in Mr. Steven’s memory to the Northeast Kingdom Coon and Cat Club: Attention Dana Stevens, 61 Stevens Road, Brownington, Vermont 05860.

Online condolences may be made at


Obituaries November 23, 2016

Harley Sam Bly

Harley Sam Bly, 96, died in Newport on November 14, 2016.

He was born on September 6, 1920, in East Charleston, a son of Harley and Ethel (Holt) Bly.

He served in the United States Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, and during that time was shot down and captured by the German Army and held prisoner for several months. The complete story is in the November, 2016, Vermont’s Northland Journal by Scott Wheeler.

Upon his return he married Muriel Webster on July 7, 1946. She predeceased him in 2004. Mr. Bly was a longtime installer and repairman for New England Telephone, from which he retired.

He enjoyed snowmobiling, motorcycling, woodworking, and the view of Lake Memphremagog from his and his wife’s home on Middle Street.

He is survived by his children: Robert Bly and his wife, Roxana Bailey, Tom Bly and his wife, Peggy, Linda Bly, and James Bly. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Max Bly, Jesse Bly, Hallie LaCroix and her husband, John, Jared Stevens, Samantha Smego, and Matthew LePore; and by his great-grandchildren, Kayden and Kyle LaCroix, Jalen and Kalli Rojas, Brianna Bly and Addison Smego.

He was predeceased by his brothers John, Joel, Edward, and Richard; and by his sister Alice Gonyaw.

Services and interment will be held at a later date at the convenience of the family.

Online condolences may be made at


Barbara Louise Frawley

Barbara Louise Frawley, 91, well known resident of Derby, died peacefully on November 15, 2016, with her family by her side.

She was born on September 29, 1925, in Newport to Robert and Dorris (Davis) Kilborn. On September 29, 1951, she married Kenneth Frawley, who predeceased her on December 11, 1997.

Mrs. Frawley graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor of arts degree in nursing. She was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

She was an avid member of various friendly and community activities, including the After Five Club, Fortnightly Club, Board of Civil Authority, Gourmet Bridge Club, and regular Sunday night dinners with her friends.

Later in her life she opened a fabric shop in Derby called the Yankee Peddler, followed by her own antique store, Canterbury Antiques. Canterbury Antiques was run out of her home, which was built in 1800 — one of the very first houses built in Derby.

Some of her most memorable attributes her family will remember her by are walking her dogs on a daily basis, making sure nobody mowed the lawn besides herself (even up through her last days), and being a quintessential pillar for her community, family, and friends. She enjoyed being outdoors, bird watching, going on picnics, and taking ice cream road trips. Mrs. Frawley was also known for her ability to bounce back from adversities with a smile.

She is survived by her children: Nancy Gardyne and her husband, William, of Derby, Mary Jo Frawley of Huntington Beach, California, Sally Lafoe and her husband, Dave, of Norton, and Daniel Frawley and his wife, Michelle, of Derby; and by her grandchildren: Marin Gardyne, Danielle Altenburg and her husband, Paul, and Zack Frawley. She was predeceased by her sister Beverly Smith.

Funeral services were held on November 19 at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Derby Line where a Mass was celebrated. Spring interment will follow at the Derby Center Cemetery.

Should friends desire, contributions can be made to the Derby Line Ambulance Service, Inc., P.O. Box 105, Derby Line, Vermont 05830.

Online condolences can be made at


Travis N. Gray

Travis N. Gray, 47, of St. Johnsbury, died at home on October 30, 2016, from Addison’s disease.

Mr. Gray was born in Newport on September 1, 1969, son to Niles O. Gray and Doreen M. Billig. He was educated in his early years in Island Pond, graduating from St. Johnsbury Academy in 1987. He then attended and graduated from Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island, in 1991. He worked in fund-raising at Lyndon State College, Middlebury College, St. Michael’s College, and finally at the University of Hawaii. His last work title was senior director of annual programs and community colleges.

He lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, for 13 years. He served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations. As Mr. Gray’s health began to fail he moved back home to live with his mother the last 16 months of his life.

He is survived by his loving mother, Doreen Billig, of St. Johnsbury; his brother Paul G. Gray, his wife, Kathy, and their children: Allison, Sam, and Luke, all of Island Pond; his stepbrother Kurt Billig, his wife, Elke, and their children: Jasper and Kaiya all of Montreal, Quebec; and a special companion, Jan Orque, of Honolulu.

Mr. Gray was predeceased by his father, Niles O. Gray, in 2013; his stepfather Michael Billig in 2012; and his sister Wendy Gray in 1987.

A memorial service was celebrated on November 12 at the United Community Church in St. Johnsbury with the Reverend Ann Hockridge officiating. Burial will be private at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wendy Gray and Travis Gray Scholarship Fund, care of St. Johnsbury Academy Alumni Association, 1000 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819.

Condolences may be shared with the family at


Mabel Irene Webb

Mabel Irene Webb, 74, of Newport, died at her home on November 19, 2016.

She was born on August 4, 1942, in Holland, to Gerald and Ruby (Woodard) Cole.

Ms. Webb enjoyed hanging out at Maplefields, playing bingo, and spending time with her family and friends.

She is survived by her children: Gary Cole of Irasburg and Donna Rowe of Newport; and by her daughter-in-law Rhonda Cole of Newport. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Chantelle Cole, Cienna Cole, Josh Cole, Brooke Cole, Jeremy Rowe, and Jessica Rowe; by her brother Donald Cole; and by her sister Kathleen Cole, both of Newport; by a special nephew who stayed with her until the time of her death, Albert Cole; and by her other nieces and nephews: Allison Robishaw, Samantha Hadley, Robbie and Linda Cole, Corey and Colleen Cole, and Travis Cole.

She was predeceased by her grandson Cody Cole in 2012; and by her brother David Cole in 1990.

A visiting hour will be held on Thursday, December 1, at 10 a.m., at the Grace Brethren Church in Irasburg. A service will follow at 11 a.m., with Pastor Scott Libby officiating.

Online condolences may be made at


Obituaries November 16, 2016

Linda Farley Brown

Linda Farley Brown, 84, of Craftsbury Common died peacefully on Saturday, November 5, 2016, surrounded by her family.

Mrs. Brown was a compassionate person, always putting others before herself. Her dedication to others was exemplified throughout her careers. She was a nurse for many years and later volunteered at Copley Hospital. She held a nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S.N. from Dominican College.

Mrs. Brown treasured the arts and particularly loved attending the opera with her husband, Marvin. Pursuing her love for the arts she opened Aurora Gallery in New Jersey. After moving to Vermont she curated art exhibitions at Sterling College. She strived to bring young local artists into the public eye.

She was a lover of all animals, both wild and domestic (especially Bill the Cat). Long walks in the woods with her dogs were an integral part of her daily routine throughout the seasons. She found great joy in the peacefulness of water, be it paddling on the Clyde River or sitting by a beach in Maine.

Literature was an important part of Mrs. Brown’s life and she was a dedicated volunteer for her beloved local library. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory can be made to the Craftsbury Public Library, P.O Box 74, Craftsbury Common, Vermont 05827.

She is survived by her husband, Marvin, of Craftsbury; and her children: Steven Brown and his wife, Brenda, Farley Brown and her husband, John Zaber, and Peter Brown and his wife, Kim; and by four grandchildren: Sarah, Constance, Lauren and Sharalyn.

She was predeceased by her parents and her brother.

We are forever grateful to Mrs. Brown’s wonderful caregivers over the last ten years of her life. These women have become truly part of the Brown family.

A memorial service will take place on Saturday, November 19, at 11 a.m., at the Craftsbury United Church of Christ in Craftsbury Common (reception to follow). A private burial will follow for immediate family.

Online condolences may be made at


Richard Vernon Ingalls

Richard Vernon Ingalls, 92, of East Albany, died on November 4, 2016, in Newport.

He was born on March 15, 1924, in East Albany to Harlow and Ora (Decker) Ingalls. On December 29, 1984, he married Mary (Sanville) Morley Ingalls.

Mr. Ingalls was a dairy farmer all of his life. His father died when he was four years old. He attended Orleans High School and later quit to help run the family farm. Mr. Ingalls bought two more farms later on and lived there until he was 77 years old, and then moved up the road past the farm. He was very active in his community as the justice of the peace. He was on the committee for the Farmer’s Home Administration for 25 years, was a member of the Agriculture Conservation Stabilization Service, and the Albany Fire Department, was Albany school director for 11 years, as well as a 4-H leader, and Albany Grange member. He loved nature and being in the woods, fishing, hunting, and mowing his large lawns, right up until a couple of weeks before his death. He also loved watching his birds and enjoyed feeding them.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ingalls; by his children: Dennis Ingalls and his wife, Sherry, Tim Ingalls, Mark Ingalls and his wife, Marie, Linda Lanou and her husband, Doug, and Wanda Lanou and her husband, Lawrence; stepchildren: Deb Dufresne and her husband, Leonel, John Morley and his wife, Donna, Mike Morley and his wife, Amy, Bill Morley and his wife, Lucie, and Diane Atwood and her husband, Jeff; by his eight grandchildren; 15 step-grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; 12 step-great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. He is also survived by his two brothers: Maurice Ingalls of Irasburg, and Harlow Ingalls of Santee, California.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Cecelia Morley, in 1977, whom he married in 1947; by a brother Pat Ingalls; and by his sisters: Helen Sanville, Arlene Ingalls, Alpha Labounty, and Fern Ukrijs.

A prayer service was held on November 12 at St. John of the Cross Church in East Albany, followed by interment at St. John Cemetery in East Albany. Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105, or to Make a Wish Foundation, 100 Dorset Street, Suite #4, South Burlington, Vermont 05403. Online condolences may be sent to the family through the funeral home website at


Obituaries November 9, 2016

John F. Brown

John F. Brown, 82, of Barton, died on November 2, in Newport, after a period of declining health.

Mr. Brown was born July 5, 1934, in Burlington, the youngest son of E. Merriman and Marjorie (Ford) Brown. He graduated from Burlington High School in 1952 and the University of Vermont in 1956, and earned his master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1958.

On September 5, 1959, he married Marjorie A. Cross in Slatersville, Rhode Island, and went to work as a county agricultural agent in Worcester, Massachusetts. His two daughters were born while they lived in Holden, Massachusetts.

In October 1962, he moved to Barton and joined his father in the family business, now known as E.M. Brown & Son, Inc. He enjoyed his years at “The Mill” and the employees, friends, and customers he dealt with daily. He always had a smile and a willingness to help anyone.

In 1980 he suffered a heart attack and retired, but continued to help others with his many areas of expertise. Mr. Brown served as member of the Barton school board, as a Barton Village trustee, on the advisory boards of the Community National Bank and the Howard Bank, as director of the Barton Chambers Apartments, Inc., and as treasurer of the Barton Area Chamber of Commerce. He was one of the founders of the Barton Medical Clinic and its treasurer, a member of North Country Hospital and Health Systems, and served on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Alliance board.

His business knowledge also helped his work with SCORE — a nonprofit organization designed to help small businesses succeed — and on the town of Barton loan committee, as Treasurer of the Welcome O. Brown Cemetery Association, and the St. Paul School Endowment Fund.

He was a justice of the peace, served on the board of civil authority, and was a director of Crystal Lake Falls Historical Association.

He was an avid Boston Red Sox and Bruins fan, and had wonderful memories of his fishing trips to Canada especially seeing the northern lights, an experience he never forgot. Mr. Brown enjoyed traveling, especially to Hawaii, and his many European vacations.

He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; two daughters: Nancy and her husband, Jon Aswad, of Snoqualmie, Washington, and Deborah Brown of North Haverhill, New Hampshire; two grandsons, Nicholas Aswad of Burlington and Connor Aswad of Winooski; a brother, Dr. Edwin Brown and his wife, Patricia, of Mechanicsville, Virginia; and sister-in-law Ba Brown of Houston, Texas; several nieces, nephews, cousins, and his much loved cat Rascal.

He was predeceased by his parents E. Merriman and Marjorie Brown; stepmother Lucy Brown; and brother Robert Brown.

Funeral services were held on November 7, at the Barton United Church. There will be a private burial at a later date at the Welcome O. Brown Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Orleans Essex VNA & Hospice, Inc., 46 Lakemont Road, Newport, Vermont 05855, or to the Pope Memorial Animal Shelter, 502 Strawberry Acres Road, Newport, Vermont 05855.

Online condolences can be made at


Marianna Erho

Marianna Erho, 76, of Brownington died on November 3, 2016, in Newport.

She was born on June 7, 1940, in Hartford, Connecticut, to Clarence and Sarah Jane (Adams) Hanson.

On May 21, 1960, she married Joseph Erho, who survives her.

Mrs. Erho was a nature enthusiast and enjoyed her beloved pets and birds.

She is survived by her husband, Joseph, of Brownington; by her children: Sarah Joanne McTeauge of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, Kenneth Joseph Erho and his partner, Michelle Howe, of Heath, Massachusetts, and Julie Ann Duff of Greenfield, Massachusetts. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Jess, Jeremy, Ashley, and Jared Erho, Morgan Duff, Monica Fecto, Melinda Duff and Richard Duff; and by eight great-grandchildren.

She was predeceased by her granddaughter Melissa Duff; by her brother Henry Hanson; and by her sister Barbara Evanson.

Services will be held at a later date in Massachusetts. Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the Pope Memorial Frontier Animal Society, 502 Strawberry Acres, Newport, Vermont 05855.

Online condolences can be made at


George Osborn

George Osborn, 83, died on October 25, 2016, at Copley Hospital in Morristown after enduring ALS for several years.

He was born in Oklahoma City and later served in the military. After leaving the service, he entered the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, as a student of trombone. After graduation, Mr. Osborn performed in the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra for a year then moved back to Rochester where he met Elinor, his wife of 55 years, who survives him. He was principal trombone in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for nearly all of his 40 years there.

Music was his first love, but after retirement and the move to Craftsbury, he had more time to pursue his enjoyment of cross-country skiing, rowing, biking, and running. When ALS kept Mr. Osborn from those endeavors, spending time in the Craftsbury General Store, where he enjoyed meeting the community, became the high spot of his day.

Donations in his memory may be made to the ALS Association, 1275 K St. NW, Suite 250, Washington, DC, 20005, or at


Charles Moulton Wilson

Charles Moulton Wilson, 89, of Brownington, died on October 28, 2016, at North Country Hospital in Newport.

He was born on February 17, 1927, in Newport. He was the son of the late Newell and Vera (Moulton) Wilson, and grew up working on their family farm on the Glen Road.

He married Dorothy Merriman on September 28, 1957. She predeceased him on November 15, 2013.

Mr. Wilson worked as a sander for Ethan Allen Furniture Company in Orleans for 28 years, before retiring in 1989.

He enjoyed tinkering on cars, woodworking, working in his sharpening shed in Glover, traveling, and photography.

He was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Newport.

He is survived by his three children: Joyce Norrie of St. Johnsbury Center, Jonathan Wilson and his wife, Marti, of Brownington, and Joseph Wilson and his wife, Penny, of Irasburg; by his grandchildren: Marissa Gadapee of East Haven, Jesse Wilson and his wife, Donna, of Derby, Jamie Wilson and her fiancé, James Margolla, of Brownington, Danny Gosselin Jr. of Orleans, Tiana Gosselin of Derby, Skyla Wilson and companion, Brandon Hoose, of Rapid City, South Dakota, Naula Gosselin and companion, Dakota Deslandes, of Newport, and Tucker Wilson of Irasburg; by five great-grandchildren: Damyin Gadapee, Kairi Gosselin, Mackenzie Gosselin, Axel Moses, and Maizie Hoose. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Other than his wife, he was predeceased by his brother Leland Wilson; his sister Sarah Miller; and by his son-in-law David Norrie.

Visiting hours will be held on Sunday, November 13, from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Newport, followed by a funeral service at 2 p.m.

Online condolences may be made at


Obituaries October 26, 2016

Anita E. Fournier

Anita E. Fournier, 86, a former longtime resident of Windsor, died Sunday morning, October 16, at The Residence at Shelburne Bay in Shelburne surrounded by her family.

She was born May 29, 1930 in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the daughter of Archie and Dezilda (Roulleau) Turgeon.

She received her schooling in Newport Center. She married Germain “Jim” Fournier at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newport on August 21, 1950. They moved to Windsor in 1952. Mrs. Fournier was employed at the former W.T. Grant’s and later at Rich’s Department Store, both in West Lebanon, for 19 years until her retirement in 1991. She also worked with her husband operating his store, Jim’s Paint and Wallpaper, in Windsor for many years until his retirement in 1993.

They owned a “little piece of heaven” on Crystal Lake in Enfield, New Hampshire, where they lived year-round for many years, then seasonally. There they spent countless summers enjoying their time with their children and grandchildren, which meant the world to Mr. and Mrs. Fournier.

Following their retirement, they moved to Vero Beach, Florida, and later to Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Mrs. Fournier was a former member of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Windsor.

Her loving husband of 62 years died on October 15, 2012. She was also predeceased by one son, Ronald Fournier; by her parents; and by four brothers and one sister.

Survivors include two daughters: Patricia Sottile and her husband, Frank, and Debra Quintana and her husband, Michael; one sister, Lorraine Choquette; four brothers: Norman Turgeon, Roger Turgeon, Roland Turgeon, and Gerald Turgeon; five grandchildren: Michael “MJ” Quintana, Peter Sottile, Emily Quintana-John and her husband, Eric, Stephanie Sottile Harris and her husband, David, and Melanie Sottile; and three great-grandchildren: Eleanor John, and Adam and Oliver Sottile.

A Mass was celebrated on October 22 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Windsor by the Reverend Charles R. Danielson, followed by committal services for both Mr. and Mrs. Fournier at the St. Francis Cemetery. Condolences may be expressed to Mrs. Fournier’s family in an online guestbook at www.knightfuneralhomes.

Memorial contributions may be made in memory of Anita E. Fournier to the VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle County, Hospice Program, 1110 Prim Road, Colchester, Vermont 05446, or online at


James Sherman Masson

James Sherman Masson died peacefully among family on October 17, 2016, at North Country Hospital in Newport.

Mr. Masson was born February 9, 1921, in McAdam, New Brunswick. He was the son of Lula (Phillips) and George Masson and husband of the late Elizabeth (Betty or Lizzie) Filby. He graduated from McAdam Composite High School in 1938. At the time, he was too young to join the Air Force so he completed a machinist course in   Moncton, New Brunswick. At age 19, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He served as a sergeant in charge of the Boomers and Gunners Armaments Division. He met Betty while stationed at Mossbank, Saskatchewan, and they were married on New Year’s Eve, 1943, at the United Church in Ochre River, Manitoba. They enjoyed 71 years of married life together.

After World War II, they settled in McAdam, and raised three children: Marlene, Lawrence, and Robert. He was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway Supplies Division which stocked and distributed supplies for trains and buildings. He began his career in McAdam, transferred to Sherbrooke, Quebec, when train transportation declined, and consequently to Newport; the town where he settled after retirement with his family.

Mr. Masson was very active in his community and enjoyed sports. In McAdam, he served as a deacon at the Rockland Drive United Baptist church, superintendent of Sunday school programs, member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Grand Master Ashlar Masonic Lodge, and on the school and hospital boards. As president, he was awarded a lifetime membership to the Border Curling Club in Beebe, Quebec. Mr. Masson was the team skip for many years, leading them to victory on numerous occasions. Additionally, he bowled regularly in leagues at Ayres’s Cliff, Quebec and Newport, well into his ninetieth year.

He was a member of the Newport Community Circle, Forever Young Club, Newport Baptist Church, and several bowling leagues. His interests included carpentry, woodworking, gardening, hunting, fishing, card games and his family. He loved to dance and was a great dancer, the envy of many.

His brother George Alfred Masson (1919 — 1993) of Stoney Lake, Ontario, predeceased him. Often Mr. Masson was his brother’s guide in the New Brunswick woods during deer hunting season.

He leaves behind three children: Marlene Dalley and her husband, Angus, of Ottawa, Ontario, Lawrence Masson, of Toronto, Ontario, and Robert “Bob,” and his wife, Betty Ann Yetter, of Newport. He was the proud grandfather of five grandchildren from Newport, and Ottawa: Robert Masson Jr. and his wife, Arla, Andrew Dalley and his wife, Cecilia, Jennifer Masson and her husband, Rick Morin, Michael Dalley and his wife, Alana, and Darlene Masson and her husband, Patrick Haugwitz; and 12 great-grandchildren: Hunter and Kaitlyn Masson, Maeve and Lydia Dalley, Christopher, Riley and Gabriel Morin, Baron, Stuart, and Mira Dalley, and Alex and Sophie Haugwitz.

Funeral services were held on October 22 at the East Main Street Baptist Church in Newport, with the Reverend David Lisner officiating. Interment will take place in McAdam at a later date. In lieu of flowers, should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the East Main Street Baptist Church, 306 East Main Street, Newport, Vermont 05855, or to the Forever Young Club, 222 Main Street, Newport, Vermont 05855.

Online condolences can be made at


Lionel Sicotte

Lionel Sicotte, 82, of Derby died on Friday, October 14, 2016.

He was born in Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec, on June 22, 1934. He was the son of the late Auguste and Florina (Tetreault) Sicotte.

He moved to Westfield in 1940, where he worked and operated a dairy farm along with family members. The farm was sold in 1958 and he moved to Newport.

One of his great passions was playing the violin along with his sister Jeannine on the piano and his brother Johnny on the drum.

He attended Newport Center High School and graduated from Champlain College with an associate’s degree in business.

Upon graduation he moved to South Burlington. There he worked for many years selling real estate for the Allen Agency in Burlington. In 1985 he, along with his brother Johnny Sicotte, bought the Pierre Motel in Barre. The motel was sold in 2000 and he moved to Derby and worked at the Newport Country Club for several years.

He was a devoted brother and uncle to his family, nieces, and nephews, and a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newport.

Mr. Sicotte is survived by his sister Jeannine Sicotte of Derby Line; his nephews: Richard Sicotte and his wife, Linda, of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Raymond Sicotte of Colchester, Reynold Sicotte and his wife, Francine, of Newport, Marc Sicotte and his wife, Gail, of Lowell, and Sylvain “Fred” Sicotte and his wife, Sandi, of Colchester; and by several great-nieces and -nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents; his sister Suzanne Sicotte; his brother Johnny Sicotte; his brothers and sisters-in-law, Guy and Marie Jeanne Sicotte, and Albert and Helene Sicotte.

Should friends desire, contributions can be made in his memory to Mater Dei Parish Renovation Fund, 191 Clermont Terrace, Newport, Vermont 05855.

Funeral services were held on October 22 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, followed by burial at St. Ignatius Cemetery in Lowell.

Online condolences can be made at


Darlene Joy Sweeney

Darlene Joy Sweeney, 65, of Craftsbury, died at her home in Craftsbury with her loving family by her side after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

She was the daughter of the late Martha Ouellette. She was born December 15, 1950, in Windsor and was adopted by Ethel and Dean Wheeler of Newport, where she lived during her adolescent years. Later in life she was joyfully reunited with her birth mother and three siblings: Jay Shattuck, Paul Shattuck and Pam Frasier.

Ms. Sweeney had a love of cooking and she shared this with many through her career as a cook, working over the years at Sterling College, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and Windridge Tennis Camp. Her memory will live on in those who were lucky enough to have tasted her bread. Ms. Sweeney also had a great passion for sewing. Whether it was making quilts for family members or friends, or mending clothing for her grandchildren, her love of the art and for those she was sewing for was evident. Although these were wonderful skills, her true gift was that of kindness. She was often heard saying, “I might not forget but I will always forgive.” She not only lived this philosophy but also encouraged others to practice it as well. Ms. Sweeney was an incredibly brave and resilient woman who not only endured cancer but found a way to do this with keeping her sense of humor intact, which is not an easy task. When facing the grim prognosis of unbeatable cancer she said, “I don’t want any tears of sadness,” and she worked her hardest to ensure this for herself and for her family members whom she loved with all her heart.

Ms. Sweeney leaves her husband of 38 years, Rodney Sweeney, of Craftsbury; her sons Torin Hammond of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Seth Sweeney and his wife, Mindy, of Craftsbury; daughter Fawn Lanphere and her husband, Brent, of North Hyde Park; and her four grandchildren: Hunter Hammond, Ethan Griggs, Sakoya Sweeney, and Sage Sweeney. Countless other family and friends will mourn her passing.

The family would like to express a special thanks to Rachel Macneal for her time and devotion in helping Ms. Sweeney to live out her dying wish by spending her final days at home.

A celebration of life will be held on Friday, October 28, at the North Hyde Park/Eden Fire Station from 1 to 4 p.m.


Obituaries October 19, 2016

Richard Alan Falconer

Richard Alan Falconer, 63, of Troy, died at North Country Hospital in Newport on Wednesday evening, October 12, 2016, surrounded by his family.

Mr. Falconer was born in Newport on May 3, 1953, a son to the late Raymond and Emily (Wormsley) Falconer. He began driving at the young age of 14 and continued to be a truck driver for all of his life. Most recently he worked for Ivan and Marlene Maxwell of Derby.

Mr. Falconer was a simple man — he didn’t like things too complicated, he liked things short, sweet and to the point. He enjoyed spending time riding his Harley Davidson and at camp in Westfield.

Mr. Falconer is survived by his three children: Brett Falconer and his partner, Blake Leighton, of Troy, Rhonda Mayhew and her husband, Stacey, of Newport Center, and Chad Falconer and his wife, Dawn, of Lowell; 12 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. He is also survived by many siblings; several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A celebration of Mr. Falconer’s life will take place on Friday, October 21, at 3 p.m. at Degre Auction Services, located at 1571 Vermont Route 100 in Westfield. The family has asked that anyone with a motorcycle or truck meet at D and C Transportation in Orleans at 2 p.m. to ride in procession to the celebration.

Memorial donations may be made to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, 1080 Hospital Drive, St. Johnsbury, Vermont 05819.

Memories and condolences may be shared at


Shirlene Leah Geoffrey

Shirlene Leah Geoffrey, 71, of Newport Center, died on October 9, 2016, at her home.

She was born on September 8, 1945, in Newport. She was the daughter of the late Leo and Germaine (Tetreault) Willey. She attended Sacred Heart High School and graduated in 1963. She then attended the Thompson School of Nursing in Brattleboro.

She married Raymond Geoffrey on October 5, 1968, who predeceased her in May of 2016.

Mrs. Geoffrey worked as an LPN for her entire life. She worked at health facilities in Springfield, Alaska, Colorado, and finally back at North Country Hospital for 33 years before she retired in 2014.

She enjoyed painting, ceramics, knitting, crocheting, gardening, and baking cookies for her friends. She also spent two years in Alaska with the Inuit through the Vista Peace Corp group.

She is survived by her children: Heath Geoffrey and his companion, Stacey Gosselin, of Derby Line, Heather Geoffrey of Newport Center, and Jarrod Geoffrey and his wife, Dawn, of Ashville, North Carolina. She is also survived by five grandchildren: Hanna, Jacobs, Pride, Ronan, and Grace Geoffrey; two brothers, Leo Willey and his wife, Rachel, of Newport, and Keith Willey and his wife, Melanie, of Newport Center; and by her sister Darlene Geoffrey and her husband, Marcel, of Newport. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

She is predeceased by her husband, Raymond; and by her brother Neil Willey.

Memorial contributions may be made in Mrs. Geoffrey’s name to the Pope Memorial Animal Shelter, 502 Strawberry Acres Road, Newport, Vermont 05855.

Online condolences may be made at


Allan R. Herman

Allan R. Herman, 79, of Brownington, died on October 11, 2016, in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Mr. Herman was born on December 14, 1936, in Evansville, a son of Arnold and Evelyn (Gelo) Herman. On May 4, 1962, he married Linda Coapland who survives him.

Mr. Herman served four years in the U.S. Air Force and was a self-employed carpenter. He enjoyed building model boats, planes, etcetera, fishing, going to Florida with Mrs. Herman, telling stories and jokes, riding back roads with his brother Norman and helping family with their building projects. Mr. Herman was always friendly and willing to help others. He enjoyed his Sunday afternoons watching, playing, and talking with his great-grandson Alex, and more recently meeting his great-grandson Elijah while he was in the hospital.

Mr. Herman is survived by his wife, Linda Herman; by his children: Mary Maclure and her husband, Marcel, Linda Bryce and her husband, Ed, Penny White, and Allan Herman Jr.; by his grandchildren: Brandon, Nicholas, and Johnathan Maclure and his wife, Tia, Tonya, Venessa and Hillary White, Keith and Emily Herman, Mark Herman Jr., and his wife, Tami, and Wynona Herman; by several great-grandchildren; by his brothers and sisters: Norman Herman and his wife, Pat, Wendal Herman and his wife, Nancy, Barbara Wright and her husband, Ross, and Frances Fletcher; and also by several nieces, nephews, and close friends.

He was predeceased by his son Mark Herman in 1979; and a brother-in-law Roger Fletcher.

A graveside service will be held on Friday October 21, 2016, at 11 a.m. at the Coventry Cemetery, with Pastor Bruce Fletcher celebrating the life of Allan Herman.

Online condolences may be sent to the family through the funeral home website at


Lucy Ellen Holland

Lucy Ellen Holland, 95, of Derby Line, died on October 10, 2016, in Newport.

She was born on July 17, 1921, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Samuel and Maude (McNeil) Hart. On November 10, 1942, she married Francis E. Holland, who predeceased her on February 8, 1988.

She was a member of the Derby Community Church and the Stanstead South United Church. Her real focus was her family.

She is survived by her children: Judith Bairstow and her husband, Jeffrey, of Sabastian, Florida, Thomas Holland and his wife, Meredith, of Delmar, New York; by her daughter-in-law Michele Barkett Holland of Acton, Massachusetts; three grandchildren: Caedmon Avery Holland of Delmar, and Mellisa Margaret Holland and Emily Ellen Holland of Ayer, Massachusetts; by her great-grandson John Carey Thompson IV; by her sister Elizabeth Champion of Tucson, Arizona; by her nephew Robert Lee Champion; and by her niece Leina Ann Champion.

She was predeceased by her son David Neil Holland on July 19, 2016.

Memorial services are planned for November.

Online condolences can be made at


David Kenneth Kelley

David Kenneth Kelley of Derby Line, died October 15, 2016 due to a hemorrhagic stroke.

He was born on January 21, 1945, to Winston and Miriam (Poots) Kelley in Newport.

After graduating from high school, he worked for his father, then attended Champlain College. He enlisted in the United States Air Force on July 15, 1965. He married Jane Ellen Willey on November 12, 1966. In 1988, he retired from the Air Force with 23 years of service, at the rank of Senior Master Sergeant (E8). During this time he was awarded a combination of 34 medals and ribbons. He proudly served his country overseas in Vietnam, Spain, and the Netherlands, as well as at six stateside bases, including in Alaska.

He then worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service while living in Essex Junction, prior to moving back to Derby Line.

He very much enjoyed his children and taking family vacations in both Europe and the U.S. In Derby Line he assisted his wife with their home daycare for 16 years, in the house his parents built. He enjoyed using computers, hunting, fishing, gardening, eating out, and feeding the birds and wildlife. His hobbies also included an extensive collection of cribbage boards and Budweiser beer steins. Mr. Kelley was a volunteer with the Charleston Historical Society, becoming vice-president. He loved reading novels, especially westerns. He was actively involved in getting classmates to go to Derby Academy High School reunions.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jane Kelley of Derby Line; his brother Dennis of Derby Line; two children: Deborah Hazelton and her husband, Paul, of East Brookfield, Massachusetts, and Tamara Kelley of Colchester; four grandchildren: Samantha, Seth, Anna and Nicholas Hazelton, of East Brookfield; and by one great-grandson, Blake Simons, of Spencer, Massachusetts.

A graveside service will be held on Friday, October 28, at 11:30 a.m. at the Derby Line Village Cemetery. A celebration of Mr. Kelley’s life will be held following the service at the Eastside Restaurant, and all are invited for a lunch and time with the family.

Online condolences may be made at


David Harry Reed 

David Harry Reed, 91, of Craftsbury, died on October 11, 2016, in Greensboro.

He was born on August 25, 1925, in Hardwick, to Homer and Olive (Daniels) Reed. On June 12, 1948, he married Audrey Ainsworth who predeceased him on June 9, 2011.

He was a veteran of World War II.

On October 11, 1991, he received his GED from Craftsbury Academy. Mr. Reed was a dairy farmer for many years and was also an insurance agent for Co-op Fire Insurance in Middlebury for over thirty years. He served on the soil conservations board.

He was a member of the American Legion Post #7 of Hardwick, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Morrisville. He was also a member of the National Iwo-Jima Survivor Association in Washington D.C. and the Northern Vermont and New Hampshire, Iwo-Jima Survivors. He was a member of the National World War II Museum in Louisiana. On his eightieth birthday he received a phone call from the governor and Senators Leahy and Sanders. After his military service he received a letter from the late President Harry Truman. He was awarded two state medals: the Vermont Veterans Medal and the Vermont Distinguished Service Medal.

He was involved with Soldier’s Angels, a voluntary group to help wounded soldiers and was a member of the H. Battery, Third Battalion Thirteenth Regiment, Fifth Division group of vets who held reunions throughout the country.

Mr. Reed loved playing cards with his family and friends, enjoyed hunting, trapping, maple sugaring, and spending time with his grandchildren.

He is survived by his children: Pamela Allen and her husband, Reginald, Sharon Reed, and Scott Reed, all of Craftsbury; by two grandchildren: Wayne Willey and his companion, Penny Peck, and Kevin Willey and his companion, Shannon Daniels, all of Craftsbury; by his great-granddaughter Karina Willey of Eden; by his sister Marjorie Long of Sterling, Massachusetts; and by several nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by a great-grandson Stephen Willey; and by his brothers: Donald and Allen Reed.

Funeral services were held on October 15 at the United Church of Craftsbury Common. Interment followed at the Craftsbury Village Cemetery with full military honors.

Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the Disabled American Veterans, National Service Office, VAMROC, 215 North Main Street, White River Junction, Vermont 05009, or to the Soldier’s Angels, 2700 Northeast Loop 410, Suite 310, San Antonio, Texas 78217.

Online condolences at


Nicholas Temple Freiherr Von Stackelberg

Nicholas Temple Freiherr Von Stackelberg, 77, died in the arms of his loving and devoted family on October 9, 2016, in Irasburg.

He was born in December of 1938, in Berlin, Germany. He grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut working on the farm of his mother, Ellen Biddle Von Stackelberg, late of Albany, where he learned valuable skills with animals, chainsaws, and farm machinery. At the age of ten he converted his first car into a flatbed truck, the start of a lifelong delight in cars which in the course of his life included a 1956 Plymouth, 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, 1978 Ford Country Squire, a Riley Nine, an Aston Martin V-8, and a Peugeot 504 which he left in a car park of the Gare du Nord in Paris in 1980, and for all the family knows, is still there.

At the age of 18 his mother sent him back to Germany to meet his father, Curt Ferdinand von Stackelberg, where he reconnected with a family that had settled in Estonia for the past 700 years until 1918, during which time they were variously of Danish, Swedish, and since 1709, Russian nationality — the latter interspersed with several relocations into banishment in Siberia, a fact of which he was justifiably proud. He spent five years in Germany during which time he attended the University of Heidelberg and met his wife, before returning to the United States, and to Vermont.

An alumnus of Housatonic Valley Regional High School and the University of Connecticut, he spent most of his career in finance in Paris and London before returning to Irasburg to do what he really loved: cut wood, fix machinery, work for the Department of Agriculture, take long drives, and talk to the farming community of northern New England. He was a modest, self-effacing human being with a love for meeting people and a spontaneous interest in every new encounter; his charm, good humor, and generous nature made him friends wherever he went in life. Constantly engaged and interested by the world around him, he was a trenchant observer of national and international politics, a keen historian (in his opinion the Battle of Poltava marked the decisive moment in the formation of modern East/West relationships), lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party, staunch follower of the University of Connecticut Huskies and Arsenal Football Club, lover of classical music (particularly Schubert), and a connoisseur of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. His favorite book, read time and again even during his final illness, was Henry Adams’ Mont St. Michel and Chartres. He was irresistible to cats, and children adored him.

When Mr. Von Stackelberg was eight years old, his great-aunt Ellen Biddle Shipman, took him by the hand and said, “You must come and sit on my lap and always remember that you did, because when I was your age and returned for the first time from the frontier, my grandfather said to me, ‘Come and sit on my lap and remember always that you did, for when I was a little boy, I sat on George Washington’s lap just as you are now.’” The story bears out — the grandfather was Robert Edward Biddle, son of Clement Biddle, Washington’s Quartermaster at Valley Forge. What Mr. Von Stackelberg said to Aunt Nell is not recorded, but with his passing a whole world of romance and marvel is lost.

He is survived by Brigitta Regina, his wife of 56 years; his children, Elizabeth Alexandra, Katharine Temple, and John Constantine; and his grandchildren: Johanna, Clara, Lorelei, Lily, Oscar and Marlene. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

A memorial ceremony in his honor will take place at Irasburg United Church on Saturday, October 22, at 2 p.m. All are welcome.

Online condolences may be made at


Obituaries October 5, 2016


obit-bensenhaverSarah Ellen Bensenhaver

Sarah Ellen Bensenhaver, 58, of Brownington died unexpectedly on September 25, 2016.

Born on November 30, 1957, she grew up in Westminster. She was married on December 21, 1985, to Allen Folsom.

Nurturing the land was important to her. She pursued her talents in gardening at the farm owned by her and Mr. Folsom, where she enjoyed taking the family dog for walks through the fields. She also was fond of fishing, reading, writing, as well as studying history.

Ms. Bensenhaver is survived by her husband, Allen Folsom, of Brownington; and her children: Joshua Folsom of Morrisville, Jasmine Folsom of Bristol, Connecticut, and Kathleen Folsom of Brownington. She is also survived by her sister Mary Piluski of Hinsdale, New Hampshire; and her brother Charles Bensenhaver of Walpole, New Hampshire.

A small, private commemorative service will be held at a later date for close friends and family.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Northeast Kingdom Human Services or a local humane society could be considered.


Belynda Ann “Lindy” Coker

Belynda Ann “Lindy” Coker, 60, of Newark died suddenly on September 28, 2016.

She was born on August 20, 1956, in Winchester, Massachusetts, to Allen Coker and Beverly (Boivin) Lasure. Ms. Coker was a school teacher in the Brighton School District. She loved teaching, gardening, swimming, and kayaking. She attended graded school in Hartland and later graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor of arts degree.

She is survived by her mother, Beverly Lasure; her father, Allen Coker, and his wife, Carolyn; by her companion, Steve Putnam, of Newark; by her brother David Coker and his wife, Donna, of Williamstown; and by her nephew Ken Coker.

Private services will be at the convenience of the family. Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be donated to a local food shelf.

Online condolences can be made at


obit-davisonJanet L. Davison

Janet Lois Davison, 67, of Hardwick died on Thursday, September 29, 2016, in the warmth of her home, following a heroic battle with cancer. Her family was at her side.

She was born April 15, 1949, in Morrisville, a daughter of the late Alger R. Baker and Yvonne M. (Chartier) Baker. She attended Jackson Bridge School in Hardwick and Hardwick Academy.

On January 7, 1966, she married Roy Ernest Davison. They lived all of their married life in Hardwick.

Ms. Davison was employed by the East Hardwick Nursing Home, Hardwick Hospital, and the Greensboro Nursing Home in her earlier years. Later she worked for more than 15 years for Vermont Weather Board in Wolcott and Bombardier in Barre. She maintained second jobs at several Hardwick convenience stores, including: The Corner Store, M & M market, Quick Stop, and a Vermont liquor store.

In 1990 she became a foster parent. She provided a home to any child in need for several years, until she finally retired in 1997 and became a full-time home provider to five siblings in state custody. That same year, she was awarded foster parent of the year for helping children, for her dedication, love and support. Then in May 1999, she adopted those very children with the hope of giving them a permanent home, keeping them all together, and making a difference in their lives.

Ms. Davison was the most devoted mother and grandmother. Her grandchildren were the absolute loves of her life.

Survivors include two daughters: Dawn Howard and her husband, Trevor, and Cleona Davison, all of Hardwick; four sons: Sheridan Davison of Morrisville, Charles Davison, Darrel Davison, and Rusty Davison, all of Hardwick; two grandchildren: Zane Davison of East Hardwick and Kalista Howard of Hardwick; two sisters: June Cleveland of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Jackie Swett of Barton; two brothers: Joseph Chartier of Orleans and Alger “Skip” Baker of Gilbert, West Virginia; as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

She was predeceased by her husband, Roy, in 1990; by a daughter, Daphne Allen; and a granddaughter, Dekota Allen, both in 1987.

To honor her request, there will be no services.

In lieu of flowers contributions in her memory may be made to benefit her special needs children, care of Kalista Howard, 74 Baker Hill Drive, Hardwick, Vermont 05843.

Northern Vermont Funeral Service in Hardwick is assisting the family with arrangements.


obit-Maxwell-1Greta Cora Maxwell

Greta Cora Maxwell, 89, of Newport died on September 26, 2016, in Newport.

She was born on January 26, 1927, in Orleans to Truman and Ada (Wills) Messier. On June 28, 1947, she married Dean Maxwell, who predeceased her on November 5, 2005.

Mrs. Maxwell was an office manager for Orleans Village where she retired in 1990, and previously was a bookkeeper for other businesses in the area. Her hobbies included gardening, watching birds, doing puzzles, and going for rides.

Mrs. Maxwell’s life revolved around her family. She cherished the many family get-togethers, be it trips to the lakes, county fairs, family picnics, or gatherings. She greatly enjoyed watching her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow, and she was very proud of their many varied accomplishments. She will be sadly missed by all those whose lives she touched.

She is survived by her children: Connie Hartshorn and her husband, Alan, of Warren, Norma Perkins and her husband, Blaine, of West Charleston, Linda LaBounty and her husband, James Sr., of Derby Line, Sally Maxwell of Derby, Sandy Maxwell and her fiancé, Peter Faust, of Irasburg, Candy Mihill and her husband, Cleve, of Newport Center, and Edmond Maxwell of Coventry; by her grandchildren: Paula Brown, Henry Hartshorn, Tammy Kroyman, Angel Graves, John LaBounty, Jaimie Poginy, Namu Moulton, Toma Moulton, Gwyn Moulton, Ashley Wright, Heather St. Onge, Eric Maxwell, Evan Maxwell, Nikita Mihill, and Brandi Godin; and by 20 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother Bruce Messier and his wife, Joanne, of Ohio; by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; and by a sister-in-law, Audrey Messier, of Derby.

She was predeceased by her brother Dale Messier.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, October 1, at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home with her nephew, the Reverend Richard Whitehill, officiating. Interment followed in Pleasantview Cemetery in Orleans.

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

Online condolences can be made at


obit-WellhoffEliane Wellhoff

It is with a will as strong as the granite of her native land that Eliane Wellhoff, 76, has fought her battle against her life-robbing illness. Sadly, she will no longer fight, as she has left us on October 1, with our flamboyant autumn leaves and our sorrow.

Mrs. Wellhoff was born on May 29, 1940, in the war torn city of Brest, a strategically located military port in Brittany, a Celtic province at the very western tip of France. She lived there for the first 56 years of her life, and, then, moved with her husband to the Greater Boston area. Eleven years ago they settled in the dream land of the Northeast Kingdom.

Mrs. Wellhoff loved her adopted country and its people, but, deep down, her heart was in her native land. She often talked about her “Chère Bretagne.” She lived in the U.S., but dreamed in Brittany. May the winds that blow over the Atlantic mercifully carry her ashes back to her roots.

Mrs. Wellhoff is survived by her husband, Christian R., of North Troy; his four children: Michael and Daniel of Newport Center, Allen and his wife, Miriam, of Wood Ridge, New Jersey, and Susan Engel and her husband, Bob, of North Troy; several grandchildren; and a few great-grandchildren, all living in the U.S.; by her two sisters, Jeannette Roudaut and her husband, François, of Lilia Plouguerneau, France, and Monique Moince of Argenteuil, France; their children and grandchildren; and by several remarkable French people, young and not so young anymore, who had adopted Mrs. Wellhoff as another mother, and affectionately called her Mamoune.

The family asks that, please, do not send flowers. For those who wish so, a contribution in her memory may be made to the North Country Hospital, 189 Prouty Drive, Newport, Vermont 05855 or to the Visiting Nurse Assiociation, 46 Lakemont Drive, Newport, Vermont 05855.

Online condolences can be made at


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


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


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


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


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

Online condolences can be made at


In Brownington: Death investigation underway


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


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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