Obituaries February 1, 2017

John W. Badger Sr.

John W. Badger Sr., 84, of Westmore, died on January 14, 2017 at Maple Lane Nursing Home in Newport in the loving arms of family members. His passing followed several years of declining health at home under the loving care of his devoted wife, Irene (Austin) Badger.

Mr. Badger was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, the second son of Joseph and Nellie (Ripley) Badger. Sadly, his mother died when he was a toddler. The Badger boys became wards of the state and were placed in foster homes, but with twice-weekly contact with their father until his death when Mr. Badger was fourteen. Two of Mr. Badger’s foster families — the Holmes and Willard families — loved him dearly and considered him their own. Marian Willard came to serve as the “mom” he so desperately wanted and ties with the ensuing generations remain strong to this day.

Mr. Badger attended the Farm and Trades School on Thompson’s Island, in Boston, and he was an enthusiastic participant in many of the sports programs offered by the school. His academic grades were passing, but the As were in conduct, effort, and athletics. Thus began a lifelong involvement with sports — as a player, a die hard fan, a coach, a ref, a mentor, and a supporter.

Mr. Badger left school to join the Navy where he proudly served from 1951 to 1955 during the Korean War. During these years, Mr. Badger and his first wife became proud parents of their first child when a daughter came in to the world Badger-style at Chelsea Naval Hospital during hurricane Carol.

After the Navy, Mr. Badger was employed at Texas Instruments for several years. In 1966, he and his wife moved their young family of five children to Canaan to begin a successful venture as dairy farmers. In the early seventies they sold the farm, but remained in Canaan. During this time, Mr. Badger was divorced and began employment as a janitor and maintenance man at the Canaan schools that his children attended. He continued to coach and ref, and was a staunch supporter of his own children’s athletic endeavors including his youngest daughter’s prowess in gymnastics — new sport for the Badger family.

He was just as passionate about the children’s academic successes and was so proud that all five went on to acquiring degrees in their chosen fields.

In 1979, Mr. Badger left Canaan and moved to Orleans and then to Westmore with his wife, Irene. He worked one year at Butterfield’s, then worked as custodian at Barton Academy and Graded School until his retirement in 1994. Before and after retirement, he always had many jobs on the side such as window washing and floor refurnishing for area schools and businesses, employment by the town of Westmore as a transfer station attendant, caretaker for several Willoughby lake properties, and the list could go on. In any endeavor, no matter how menial, he took each responsibility very seriously.

However, Mr. Badger played as hard as he worked. In later years, he played the small local golf courses, enjoyed kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tobogganing with his neighbors. He was always a hunter and fisherman, and over the years had skidoos, and a motorcycle and boats. On the quieter side, he enjoyed camping, especially at the state parks and Cathedral Pines Campground in Eustis, Maine. He organized Fourth of July camping events for family and friends at the family’s Westmore property for several years. He was an avid cribbage player and enjoyed chess and other strategy games. He liked easy listening music, Katherine Hepburn movies, and in recent years found classical music very soothing. His greatest joy was time spent with family and friends and at the sports events, music recitals, and milestones of his grandchildren.

Survivors include his wife, Irene (Austin) Badger; his five children: Deborah Badger, John W. Badger Jr., Dianne Badger, Stephen Badger, and Jacqueline Powers; his grandchildren: John W. Badger III, Megan, Jared, Jeffrey, and Jonathan Badger, and Samantha Powers; and his great-grandson, Owen. He is also survived by his ex-wife and the mother of his children, Mildred Badger; his brothers- and sister-in-law: Alice Badger, Eugene and Anita Austin, George and Gail Ruggles, and David and Carol Brisson; and by several nieces and nephews, cousins, and very close friends of all ages. Also grieving his loss is his much loved dog, Lucky Lady.

Mr. Badger was predeceased by his parents; by his older brother, Joe; by his foster parents and several foster siblings including a very special sister, Ruth.

A memorial service was held on January 17, at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home on Elm Street in Barton.

Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Vermont Chapter, 300 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 128, Williston, Vermont 05495, or to the Barton and/or Orleans American Legions, or to a charity of one’s choosing.

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

 

Justin Kyle Joseph Forcier

Justin Kyle Joseph Forcier, 20, of Derby Line, died at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center on January 18, 2017, surrounded by family.

Mr. Forcier was born on June 28, 1996, in Newport.

He had a love for animals, especially his cat Bailey. His favorite pastime was to hang out with friends and listen to his music. He had a heart of gold and would help anyone who needed him. He enjoyed life, but with his passing, has given the gift of life to four other people with his gift or organ donation.

Mr. Forcier left behind his mother, Karen Bullis; his father Dylan Mobbs; brother Kyle Forcier and his girlfriend, Mariah Flynn; his sister Blake Leighton and her boyfriend, Brett Falconer; grandmother Marlene Bullis; and great-grandmother Thelma Willis. He also leaves half brothers and sisters Dustin Brow, Owen Mobbs, Madison Locke, and Hannah Mobbs; aunts and uncles Roy and Rhonda Bullis, Roxanne and Christopher Couture Sr.; his cousins Leanne Perras and her husband, Kris, Samantha Bullis, and Christopher Couture Jr.; niece Hannah Forcier; and nephews Caden Wells and Brayden Wells.

Mr. Forcier was predeceased by his grandfather Joseph Bullis in 2012; and his cousin Lindsey Couture in 2013.

Instead of flowers, any donation to Mr. Forcier’s final expenses would be appreciated, and can be sent to his mom, Karen Bullis, P.O. Box 83, Derby, Vermont 05829.

Services and burial will take place in the spring.

Patricia Herman

Patricia Herman, 75, of Brownington died on the evening of January 26, 2017 in Newport.

She was born on September 12, 1941 in Orleans. She was the daughter of the late Charles and Josephine (Thompson) Chase. She attended schools in Orleans and graduated from Orleans High School in 1959. She married Norman Herman on October 31, 1959. She worked at the Brownington Central School for 32 years in the cafeteria. She enjoyed going to bingo, knitting, and spending time with family.

She is survived by her husband, Norman Herman, of Brownington; her children: Sheryl McCoy and her husband, Steven, of Sebring, Florida, Jean Messier and her companion, Jeffrey Ferrin, of Newport Center, and Michael Herman and his wife, Penny, of Brownington. She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Paul, Ashley, Jessica, Scott, Tracy, Amy, Chasity, and Jason; and by eleven great-grandchildren; her siblings: Robert Chase and his wife, Edith, of Long Island, New York, Larry Chase and his companion, Beverly White, of Brownington, and Phyllis Kennison of Brownington. She is also survived by her brother-in-law Wendell Herman and his wife, Nancy; and by her sisters-in-law: Frances Fletcher, Barbara Wright and her husband, Ross, of Barton, and Betty Blair. She was also survived by her sister-in-law Linda Herman who died on January 27, 2017.

She was predeceased by her parents; her brother Richard Chase; an infant son, Donald; her son-in-law Michael Messier; and her brothers-in-law: Roger Fletcher, Allan Herman, and Melvin “Stub” Kennison.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 1, at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home located at 4670 Darling Hill Road in Newport. Friends may call at the funeral home from noon up until the hour of the funeral.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Orleans Ambulance Service: c/o Dot Collier, Treasurer, 1327 Dry Pond Road, Glover, Vermont 05839. Online condolences may be made at www.curtis-britch.com.

 

Richard “Richie” G. LeBlanc

Richard “Richie” G. LeBlanc, 62, of Orleans, died in Westmore on the morning of January 26, 2017, as a result of an ice-fishing accident on Willoughby Lake.

He was born July 30, 1954, the first of six children born to George and Anne (Raboin) LeBlanc. The family lived in Lowell and Westfield, and he graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1973. Mr. LeBlanc spent the first part of his working years helping his father on the family dairy farm. He also spent two separate stints working at Ethan Allen in Orleans and two at Tivoly in Derby Line. He retired from Tivoly in August.

Mr. LeBlanc took his time finding the right partner to share his life with, and in September 2006, he married Susan “Sue” Dawley LeBlanc, who survives him. Mrs. LeBlanc brought many gifts to their life together including; a stepdaughter, Tina Bearce and her husband, Justin, of Bradford; and a stepson, Keith Richardson and his wife, Amanda, of Concord, New Hampshire.

Mr. LeBlanc was known as a kind and loving guy, and his family meant the world to him. He was an avid fisherman, enjoyed walking in the woods, working in his blueberry and raspberry gardens, and spending time on the Dawley family farm in Mt. Holly.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his parents, George and Anne LeBlanc of Orleans; his sister Polly Duquette and brother-in-law, Paul, of Newport Center, his sister Linda LaPlume and brother-in-law, Cyril, of Derby, his sister Rita LaPlume and brother-in-law, Guy, of Milton, his brother Rene LeBlanc and sister-in-law, Lori, of Irasburg, and his sister Amy Turner and brother-in-law, Mike, of Bolton. He will be missed by his many nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles.

Mr. LeBlanc also leaves five grandchildren who will miss the Lego building, train set ups, bike rides, watching movies, and long walks. Dylan, Sam, and Jack Bearce, along with Oscar and Ella Richardson were the joys of his life.

A Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, February 4, at 11 a.m., at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Orleans with the Reverend Timothy Naples officiating. A reception will follow at the Orleans Municipal Building, all are welcome.

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

 

Helen Emily Mosher

Helen Emily Mosher, 102, of Irasburg, formerly of McLean, New York, died on January 23, 2017, at the Bel-Aire Center in Newport.

Mrs. Mosher was born in McLean on July 20, 1914, the daughter of Frank G. and Cora L. Trapp, and raised on the family farm, a place she remembered vividly and fondly for the rest of her life. During her high school years, the family spent summers on the farm and the rest of the year in Syracuse, where she met Howard Mosher, her future husband, in an English class at Onondaga Valley Academy. After graduation in 1932, she and Mr. Mosher spent four years at Syracuse University, where she graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors and a major in French.

Following a year’s work as a secretary at Cornell University, Helen married Howard at the family home in McLean in August, 1937. Until Mr. Mosher’s retirement from a career in teaching and school administration in the mid-1970s, the couple lived in six different communities in upstate New York. Their longest residence was in the central New York village of Cato, where their two sons went to high school. Bringing her life full circle, Mr. and Mrs. Mosher spent their retirement years at the family home in McLean. Two years after her husband’s death in 1996, Mrs. Mosher moved to Irasburg, where she was cared for by her older son, Howard Frank, and his wife, Phillis.

A woman with a great heart, Mrs. Mosher loved God, her family, and the many friends she made wherever she lived. Her gift for attentive listening made everyone she knew feel important and valued. Approaching each day with gratitude and pleasure, she delighted in conversation, books, and nature. Never forgetting her rural roots, she knew exactly what Robert Frost meant by “the need of being versed in country things.”

Along with many friends made late in her life, Mrs. Mosher leaves behind these family members, all deeply grateful to have known and loved her: two sons, Howard Frank Mosher and Terence Mosher; their wives, Phillis Mosher and Judith Mosher; a grandson, Jacob Mosher; a granddaughter, Annie Williamson and her husband, John; and two great-grandchildren, Frank James Williamson and True Williamson.

Services will take place at a later date.

 

Howard Frank Mosher

Howard F. Mosher, age 74, of Irasburg, died on January 29, 2017.

He was born in Kingston, New York, on June 2, 1942, the son of Howard H. and Helen Emily Trapp Mosher.

Mr. Mosher lived most of his adult life in Irasburg. In 1964 he married the love of his life, Phillis Mosher, graduated from Syracuse University, and moved to the Northeast Kingdom. They had two children, Jake and Annie.

Mr. Mosher received his master’s degree from the University of Vermont in 1968. (One clear fall morning in 1995 Mr. Mosher drove to the university on business. As he got out of his car, a high-ranking member of the college community there to welcome him said, “Good morning, Mr. Mosher. Welcome to civilization.” Mr. Mosher canceled his business, got in his car and drove home to Irasburg, where he promptly wrote to the university repudiating and rejecting, for all time to come, his master’s degree from that stately seat of learning and civilization. He then nailed the [now defunct] diploma to the side of his barn and blasted it with .06 bird shot from his 16 gauge partridge gun.)

Mr. Mosher worked as a teacher at the former Orleans High School (a trial by fire if there ever was one), and at Lake Region Union High School. He also worked for a number of years as a social worker with needy teenagers (through the infamous Orleans County Council of Social Agencies, under the restrained and sedate guidance of Thomas J. “Tom the Outlaw” Hahn, with whom Mr. Mosher would later fish nearly every trout brook in the state of Montana.) As part of his lengthy apprenticeship to writing about the Northeast Kingdom, Mr. Mosher worked for several months as a “helper” to the Kingdom horse logger and former whiskey runner and moonshiner, Jake Blodgett, for whom the Moshers would later name their son Jake. About 1975, Mr. Mosher turned to full-time writing. He published his first book Disappearances, two years later. (Disappearances did not meet with universal acclaim. One prominent reviewer editorialized: “Vermont Writer Should Disappear.” After nailing the offending review to the side of his barn and following standard procedures, Mr. Mosher scouted up Jake Blodgett and took off the rest of the day to go brook-trout fishing.) Over the course of his career, Mr. Mosher published 12 novels, two memoirs, and countless essays and book reviews. In addition, his last work of fiction, Points North, will be published posthumously in the winter of 2018. He never suggested that a writer “disappear.”

Mr. Mosher is survived by his wife, Phillis; his son, Jake; his daughter, Annie, and son-in-law, John Williamson; his grandson and granddaughter, Frank James and True Williamson; and his brother and sister-in-law, Terry and Judy Mosher.

At the request of Mr. Mosher, there will be no visiting hours. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. on June 2, at the Irasburg United Church and is open to the public. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Joshua House, Inc., P.O. Box 156, Irasburg, Vermont 05845.

Online condolence at www.curtis-britch.com.

Submitted by Phillis Mosher. Written by the deceased, Howard Frank Mosher.

Arthur G. Provost Jr.

Arthur G. “Skip” Provost Jr., 76, of Jay, died on January 23, 2017 in Newport. He was born on July 24, 1940 in Burlington, to the late Arthur G. Provost Sr. and Dorothy (Sherman) Provost. On January 19, 1963, he married Linda Lyon who survives him.

Mr. Provost was a Chief Petty Officer E-8 in the United States Navy for 25 years. Among his many hobbies he enjoyed sailing, reading, running, swimming, canoeing, camping, and playing tennis. He held memberships with the American Legion Post #28 of North Troy, and the Fleet Reserve Association.

He is survived by his wife, Linda Provost of Jay; by his children: Scott William Provost and his wife, Carolyn, of Bozrah, Connecticut, David Alan Provost and his wife, Alicia, of Redmond, Oregon, and Kimberly Ann Lindner of Newport Center. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Loreli, Donna, Paul, Katie, Connor, Lindsey, and Quinn Provost, Drew Lindner, Kyler Baker, and Reyanna Coombe; and by his sisters-in-law: Cathy of Vermont, and Sandy Shepard and her husband, Larry, of Williston; and by his nieces: Gigi, Angela, and Kristy. He was predeceased by his son Christopher Paul Provost; and his brother Gary Provost, both in 2001.

Funeral services were held on January 27 at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home in Newport. Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the Orleans-Essex V.N.A. and Hospice, Inc, 46 Lakemont Road, Newport, Vermont 05855. Online condolences can be made at curtis-britch.com.

 

Joseph Queenin

The village of Derby Line has lost its unofficial mayor, and the world has lost a great community spirit. Joseph “Joe” Queenin, 93, died in Newport on January 2, 2017, with his family, whom he cherished, giving comfort at his side.

Mr. Queenin is survived by his beloved son, John, and his wife, Penny; and two grandsons: Joseph J. and Bob J. Queenin, both of Derby Line. He was predeceased by his great-grandchild Caidence Queenin in June, 2010.

Mr. Queenin was born on June 1, 1923 to Francis and Mary (Fitzpatrick) Queenin, He grew up in Woburn, Massachusetts with the blood of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins running through his veins. He was a diehard fan of the teams until his passing, and without a doubt he has now reconnected with Bev, his wife of 65 years, in Heaven, and they are in search of some of the Boston greats who passed before them.

A child of the Great Depression, Mr. Queenin had a far from perfect childhood. As a teenager he was orphaned, but his only sibling, Hugh, nine years his senior, stepped in for their parents. In February 1941, Hugh, then a reserve Army officer, joined the U.S. Border Patrol and was assigned to the Derby Line border station. The two brothers settled in Derby Line. Mr. Queenin attended his junior year at Derby Academy, but he transferred to Newport High School in his senior year. Unlike Derby Academy, Newport had a football team which he joined. He graduated from Newport High School in 1942.

As with most people of his generation, Mr. Queenin remembered exactly where he was when he heard the news that Japanese forces had bombed the Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which launched the United States into an already raging World War II. He was standing on Newport’s Main Street in front of what was then the Royal Restaurant. Angered by the attack, he enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after graduation. He was followed into full-time military service by Hugh, who served as an officer. Following basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, Mr. Queenin shipped out to the Pacific. He saw action on the island of Bougainville, followed by some of the bloodiest fighting of the war on the island of Okinawa.

Upon discharge from the military in December, 1945, he returned to Derby Line and reconnected with a young woman he met in Derby Line before the war, and had corresponded with during the war years. Her name was Beverly Piatti. On May 24, 1946, she became Beverly Queenin. They shared 65 years of marriage before Mrs. Queenin’s death on September 19, 2011. The love of his family, friends, and neighbors helped him survive the loss, but he never stopped missing Bev, the love of his life. He credited Mrs. Queenin for making him the man he was. For a time, the couple owned a newsstand in Derby Line. Mr. Queenin worked at the the U.S. Postal Service until his retirement in 1984.

He had a lifelong love of sports, a love he brought to Vermont. For many years he was a well-known baseball and basketball coach. He also served as a basketball referee. Mrs. Queenin was also fanatical when it came to sports. The couple passed their love of sports onto their son John, and their grandsons Joe and Bob. Mr. Queenin also volunteered for the North Country Union High School hockey teams, including manning the penalty box during home games. He also spearheaded the Toys for Kids program in Orleans County, a program that helped provide underprivileged children with gifts for Christmas. In addition, he volunteered at North Country Hospital for many years. His good works were not overlooked. He was honored several times, including in 2013, being named Northeast Kingdom Senior of the Year by the Area Agency on Aging. He was also named WCAX’s Super Senior in 2014. In addition, he was a frequent guest on the Vermont Voice radio show, and the Northeast Kingdom Voice television show.

Proud of his military service, Mr. Queenin was a frequent guest in area schools. He shared his memories of World War II, not to brag, but in hopes that the students would not only learn about World War II, but also understand the horrors of war. In 2012, he traveled to California to celebrate the two hundred thirty-seventh birthday of the Marine Corps, staying aboard the Queen Mary. Then in 2014 he went on a dream trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.

He was active until the very end, always concerned for others before himself.

Friends may call on Thursday, February 2, from 10 a.m. until noon and from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Curtis-Britch-Converse-Rushford Funeral Home, 4670 Darling Hill Road, Newport. Funeral services will be held at the funeral home at 11 a.m. on Friday, February 3, with the Reverend Fred Barker and Scott Wheeler officiating. Spring interment will take place at Derby Line Cemetery with full military honors and escort by Patriot Guard Riders.

Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the Pope Memorial Frontier Memorial Animal Shelter, 502 Strawberry Acres, Newport, Vermont 05855. Online condolences can be made at curtis-britch.com.

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Stories reflect beauty, complexity of Vermont

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WEB review vermont fictioncopyright the Chronicle January 21, 2015

Reviewed by Tena Starr

Contemporary Vermont Fiction, an Anthology. Edited by Robin MacArthur. Published by Green Writers Press. Paperback. 226 pages. $21.00.

Vermont has a lot of writers. In fact, I’ve heard, or read, that it has more writers, per capita, than any other state.

What editor Robin MacArthur has done with this anthology is collect some of the best work of some of the best of them. The book includes pieces by Howard Frank Mosher, Julia Alvarez, Castle Freeman Jr., Wallace Stegner, Annie Proulx, and Bill Schubart, as well as from at least a half dozen perhaps less familiar, but no less moving, writers.

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Putting Mosher in the pantheon

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howard mosher webcopyright the Chronicle July 2, 2014

Howard Frank Mosher and the Classics, Echoes in the Vermont Writer’s Works, by James Robert Saunders. 208 pages. Softcover. Published by McFarland. $45.

Reviewed by Tena Starr

Four years ago, in June of 2010, Purdue University professor James Robert Saunders went to hear Howard Mosher of Irasburg give a talk on his latest book, Walking to Gatlinburg.

“I had already read that particular work as well as the other ten books that he had written up to that point, books that I would see, off and on, when I visited the independent booksellers that are a mainstay of Vermont’s literary enterprise,” Mr. Saunders writes in his introduction to his own book, Howard Frank Mosher and the Classics, Echoes in the Vermont Writer’s Works. “Wanting to learn more about this author, who always seemed to have a little section at those stores reserved for him, I got on my computer and checked with the online MLA Bibliography, but found precious little that had been written about his works, in terms of interpretation.”

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Chris Braithwaite will be in NENPA Hall of Fame

chris hall fame web

Chris Braithwaite, hard at work at the Chronicle office working on this week’s newspaper, in Barton Tuesday. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle 1-15-2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

BARTON — Chronicle founder and publisher Chris Braithwaite will be inducted into the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) Hall of Fame in February.

Mr. Braithwaite and five other newspaper professionals will be honored at the NENPA winter convention and annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 7. Continue reading

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Peter Miller captures Vermont characters

The late Carroll Shatney, on the cover of Peter Miller’s new book.

The late Carroll Shatney, on the cover of Peter Miller’s new book.

A Lifetime of Vermont People, with photographs and text by Peter Miller; 208 pages in hardback; published by Silver Print Press; $49.95.

Reviewed by Chris Braithwaite

Any Northeast Kingdom resident who picks up Peter Miller’s extraordinarily handsome new book will see a lot of familiar faces.

Anne and Jack Lazor come up first, and Mr. Miller’s nighttime photograph of their Butterworks Farm in Westfield is among the best in the book.

That’s a surprise, because A Lifetime of Vermont People, as the name suggests, is a collection of portraits, supplemented with Mr. Miller’s insightful commentaries on his subjects.

Next up is Peter Johnson of Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury.  Then there’s a shot of one of fisherman Roger Elkins’ favorite spots, the Willoughby River falls in Orleans.

There’s a charming portrait of Peter and Elka Schumann at their home overlooking Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover, closely followed by an iconic shot of Bill Royer playing his fiddle at a Sheffield Old Home Day, accompanied on the banjo by a shockingly young Burt Porter of Glover.

Greensboro Bend farmer Carroll Shatney, who died in 2009, is on the book’s cover.  Colleen Goodridge and her sons pose at their cedar mill in Albany; brewmaster Shaun Hill chats with his father in Greensboro; the poet David Budbill meditates under a tree at his home in Wolcott; and novelist Howard Frank Mosher, rod in hand, strolls back to his Irasburg home from a fishing expedition.

The 60 profiles Mr. Miller includes in his book pretty much cover the state of Vermont.  But its generous proportion of Kingdom characters reflects the photographer’s fondness for the area.

Indeed, he said while waiting for a book signing session to get underway at The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick Friday evening, he’s looking for a new home in the area.

Mr. Miller has lived in Colbyville, near Waterbury, since 1968.  But the ever-increasing traffic on Route 100 is finally getting to him.

And the Kingdom may turn out to be the final habitat of the quarry Mr. Miller has been stalking through his long career in photography.

“We are losing those Vermonters who have made this state unique,” he writes in his introduction.  “These are the people who love their state for its beauty, but they revere it more for the freedom and privacy it has given them.  Most of the Vermonters I grew up with are farmers, woodsmen, and craftspeople.  They are self-employed and self-reliant.”

Mr. Miller’s decision to present his portraits in black and white — though he shoots them in color with a digital camera — underlines the emphasis he puts on the state’s character, rather than its ever-so-well-documented scenic beauty.

It was the right decision, and it gives his new book a timeless quality that reflects the five decades he has spent capturing the spirit of the odd souls he so admires.

It began in 1959 with Will and Rowena Austin of Weston.  Mr. Miller was a neighbor who dropped by to visit the Austins on their front porch, carrying along his twin-lens Roliflex.

The farm couple is on the cover of Mr. Miller’s 1990 collection, Vermont People, and they appear again in his new book.

But A Lifetime of Vermont People is much enriched by the author’s notes that follow some of his profiles.  It is here that the photographer talks about that problem faced by everyone who works with a camera — the reluctant subject:

“I was a shy kid, more comfortable alone in the woods, but I felt at home with Will and Rowena.  I asked if I could take some photographs.

“‘Why sure,’ said Will.

“‘Goodness NO!’ said Rowena.  She stood, plucked up her dress and flounced into the house.  What they didn’t know is that, while talking, I photographed each with the camera in my lap.”

Rowena eventually came around, and one of the finest photographs in the book is of her making her way up the path to her house with the mail on a winter’s morning — a stout old woman leaning on her cane while a young cat, Canon Ball, prances behind her.

Another such note reveals that Mr. Miller worked for one of the twentieth century’s greatest photographers, Yousuf Karsh, of Ottawa, Canada.

Mr. Karsh took formal, carefully posed portraits of some of his era’s most famous people.  Mr. Miller decided he was more interested in photojournalism, and left his mentor for a stint with Life Magazine before turning to freelance work.

But, he notes, he assimilated a lot from Mr. Karsh:

“I learned to read a face and fathom a personality, how to hold a conversation with my subjects and show them respect.  I use a tripod (most of the time) and set off the camera with a cable release so I stand and face my subject as Karsh did.  On my own I learned how to combine a persona with their environment.”

Those were lessons well learned, and the results, in Mr. Miller’s new book, are well worth seeing.

Peter Miller is one of three Vermont photographers whose work is currently featured at the Old Stone House in Brownington.  “Visions of Place” includes the work of Peter Miller, John Miller and Richard Brown.  It will be at the museum through October 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

contact Chris Braithwaite at [email protected]

For more free articles from the Chronicle like this one, see our Reviews pages. For all the Chronicle’s stories, pick up a print copy or subscribe, either for print or digital editions.

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