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Milestones

Milestones

Obituaries

• Betty Louise Gregory Bailey, 91, of Vernon. Died Feb. 2, 2020 at Vernon Green nursing home, where she had lived for several years. Born in Vernon on June 20, 1928, the third daughter of Alfred and Irene (Johnson) Gregory, she attended the one-room North Vernon Grammar School and graduated from Brattleboro High School in 1946 before going to work for American Optical on Putney Road. In 1951, she married Merle “Barney” Bailey, a union that would last 59 years until Barney’s death in 2010. Barney and Betty settled in their home on Governor Hunt Road with their two children, Betty-Jo and Michael Bailey. No doubt in large part to Betty’s fun and light-hearted nature, the Bailey house was often the hangout for the neighborhood kids in Vernon when her own children were young. Unfortunately, her daughter Betty-Jo (affectionately known as “Jo-Jo”) suffered from juvenile diabetes, which greatly affected her quality of life from the time she was a toddler. Betty dedicated herself to caring for Jo-Jo until her death in 1983. The loss of their daughter would have been unbearable for Betty and Barney had it not been for their great inner strength and faith. Despite her outward happy demeanor, the pain and loss Betty felt for Jo-Jo was never far away. In addition to caring for her husband and children, over the years Betty worked at Vernon Green, Vernon Elementary School, at Vernon Hall, and at the J.E. Mann clothing store in Brattleboro. Betty loved children and they loved her. Even in her later years, when her memory and mobility were challenged, Betty always had a smile and playful attitude when youngsters (especially her great grandchildren) were near. She reveled in memories of past times spent with her grandchildren when they were younger, whether it be when she hosted them for overnights or summer days spent together on the beach in Maine. In addition to being with family, Betty loved spending time with friends, many of whom she had known for multiple decades. She loved music and enjoyed playing piano when she was younger. Before her health prevented it, Betty was a dedicated congregant of the Vernon Union Church and she volunteered for several organizations in Vernon, including the Vernon Historians and the Vernon Seniors. Her final years were spent at the Vernon Homes, where she enjoyed playing games and puzzling. In addition to her daughter and her husband, Betty was predeceased by her sisters, Virginia Gregory Pratt and Shirley Gregory Severance. Survivors include her son, Michael Bailey and his partner, Kelly Massicotte, of Waterbury Center; granddaughter Lylah Jo (Bailey) Wright and her husband, Joseph Wright III, of Townshend; grandson Brian Bailey and his partner, Renea Pecor, of East Hardwick; three great-grandchildren and many friends. Memorial information: A graveside service in the spring, tentatively scheduled for Betty’s birthday on June 20, will be held in North Cemetery in Vernon. Donations to the Vernon Historians and the Vernon Seniors (both in care of the town of Vernon, 567 Governor Hunt Rd., Vernon, VT 05354), Vernon Union Church (2631 Fort Bridgman Rd., Vernon, VT 05354), or the Recreation Fund at Vernon Homes (61 Greenway Dr., Vernon, VT 05354).

• Anne Brinton, 83, of Brattleboro. Died Dec. 28, 2019 at Thompson House in Brattleboro, following a severe stroke at home. She was born May 21, 1936 to Charles and Anna Brinton in Cambridge, Mass. In spite of childhood scoliosis, Anne studied dance. In her twenties, she performed and sang with a jazz ensemble in the Boston area. Later, she worked as a licensed social worker, a boutique owner, briefly, as a waitress, and fulfilled her dream to usher at Lincoln Center in New York City. Anne’s sense of style, love of art and independent spirit brought her to Provincetown in the Sixties, first as a summer visitor and later as a full-time resident. For the next 20 years, her many friends remember her striding through town, feeding the pigeons, listening to everyone, reading The New York Times with her morning coffee, and singing with Take Five Jazz Ensemble at the old Mews Restaurant. In 2001, she moved to Brattleboro, prompted to some extent to be close to her best friends, Edel Byrne and Jan McPherson. She loved the mountain and river, her view. She fed the sparrows, kept a cat, and never missed a hair appointment or her volunteer hours at the New England Coalition. She joined the choir at Centre Congregational,the Tree Committee, the Senior Center, for movies, Tai Chi and socializing. She supported the Library, the Brown Bag Lunch series at the River Garden, Amy’s, Mocha Joe’s, and the Co-op. She adored the flower pots and hanging baskets along Main Street. She made new friends who join her family and old friends in keeping her memory alive. A private person with strong values, Anne quietly strengthened any group she joined. Equally opposed to profanity and religiosity, she spoke frankly from her heart. She once said her life was a process of getting down off the stage, to come into the audience and take her place. In the end, she was an usher. She was predeceased by her parents and her beloved husband, James Knotts. Memorial information: Anne specified that there be no services, but a gathering of friends may occur in the places she held dear. Respecting her wishes, her Provincetown friends are planning a gathering in the spring.

• Ruth T. Bristol, 85, of Brattleboro. Died on Jan. 30, 2020 at Pine Heights in Brattleboro, where she had been a resident since October. Born in Vernon on June 17, 1934, the daughter of Roman and Katherine (Drozda) Tkaczyk, she attended Hinsdale Elementary School and graduated from Hinsdale High School. In 1953, she married Irving E. Bristol, who predeceased her in 1992. She was a devoted homemaker whose life centered around her family. For several years, she assisted her husband with the day-to-day operation of his printing business, Bristol Offset, in Brattleboro. Ruth later was a selector for New Chapter in Brattleboro and is credited with having been the longest service employee. She retired in 2016 at the age of 81 after many years of faithful service with the company. A devout Catholic, she was a communicant of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church. Ruth enjoyed her evening television shows, loved playing Bingo and time shared with her family. She was a quiet and unassuming person who will be remembered for her spirit of friendship. Survivors include a son, Gordon Bristol (Jean) of Williamsville; a sister, Anna Mahoney (Dan) of Hinsdale; two granddaughters, Sydney Jean Bristol of Brattleboro and Katherine Elizabeth Bristol (Trevor Havreluk) of Townshend; and the apple of her eye, great-grandson Bentley Havreluk. Additionally, she leaves many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. Memorial information: A funeral Mass will be celebrated in the spring at St. Michael’s Catholic Church at a future date and time to be announced. She will be laid to rest next to her beloved husband in St. Michael’s Parish Cemetery. Donations to St. Michaels’ School, 47 Walnut St., Brattleboro, VT 05301 in care of Elaine Beam, principal.

• Malcolm P. Ellis, 86, formerly of Ashland, Maine. Died of cancer on Jan. 27, 2020 at Vernon Hall Assisted Living in Vernon, where he and his wife, Edna, resided together the last months of his life. He was born on June 1, 1933 to the late Phineas and Mildred (Chandler) Ellis, and was a veteran of the Army. He enjoyed serving as national vice president for the Future Farmers of America (1952-53). After high school, Malcolm completed a two-year program in agriculture at the University of Maine-Orono. He came to know Jesus as his Savior at Camp Nomacca in Mapleton, Maine as a young man and, from that point on, became active at the Ashland Advent Christian Church as well as Camp Nomacca. Malcolm was a man of integrity in everything he did from church activities to serving on the Ashland Town Council, the Aroostook Valley Health Center Board of Directors, and the local school boards. His honest, hardworking nature was evident in working the potato farm and then serving farmers in various aspects of the potato agricultural industry. His true passion was creating, building, and producing adaptations to farm equipment. He had more than 20 inventions to his credit, many of which were patented and are now standard in the industry. He is survived by his devoted wife of 62 years, their children: Jaye (late Kori) Ellis of Mapleton, Maine, Bradford (Elizabeth) Ellis of Vernon, and Kristi (Craig) Libby of San Diego, Calif; two sisters: Myrtle (Myron) Goodwin of Kennebunk, Maine, and Elaine (late Eugene) Hotham of Presque Isle, Maine and their families, and eight grandchildren. Memorial information: A memorial service will be held at the Ashland Advent Christian Church on Sunday, May 31, at 2 p.m., with interment following at the Ellis/Trafton Cemetery in Ashland. All are invited to attend. Donations to Camp Nomacca, P.O. Box 551, Presque Isle, ME 04769.

• Mary Ann Howard, 64, of Marlboro. Died Jan. 29, 2020, with her family by her side, at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H. She was born in Brattleboro on Oct. 17, 1955, the daughter of the late Sturgis E. and Violet (Powling) Howard. She was raised and educated in Marlboro and Whitingham, where she attended Whitingham High School. For many years, she worked in the family business, Howard & Clark, doing logging, house cleaning, leading trail rides, and horse pulling. Mary loved horses, owning many throughout the years, and held membership in several organizations that included the American Quarter Horse Association, Eastern Draft Horse Association, and the National Barrel Horse Association. She competed as a driver at regional horse pulling competitions and competed in barrel racing, team penning, and sorting cows. Survivors include her devoted partner of 47 years, Robert N. Clark, of Marlboro; one son, Robert H. “BJ” Clark of Marlboro; her mother, Violet Howard, and stepfather, David Johnson, also of Marlboro; three sisters, Maggie Smith of Hinsdale, N.H., Jane Clark (Jay) of Marlboro, and Peggy Howard (Keith) of Hinsdale, N.H.; and a special cousin who she considered a sister, Barbara Young (Alan) of Marlboro. Additionally, she leaves many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, cousins, and several aunts and uncles. Memorial information: A memorial gathering will be held at the American Legion on Linden Street in Brattleboro on Feb. 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. Donations to Judy O’Rourke for Vermont Make A Wish, 1700 Pond Hill Rd., Castleton, VT 05735.

• Joann Gay Huber, 68, of Barrington N.H. Died Jan. 13, 2020 at home, surrounded by loved ones, after a courageous battle with cancer. Joann was born March 7, 1951 to Donald Gay Huber and Barbara Rose Mecheski Huber in Brattleboro, and raised in Northfield, Mass. As a young girl, Joann rode her horse King in competition. She was also a lifeguard, camp counselor, and baton twirler. Graduating from Pioneer Regional High School in Northfield in 1969, she later obtained a degree in mental health and worked at the Brattleboro Retreat for many years. She also worked at the Water Mark Inn in Provincetown, Mass. Later, she formed her own very successful cleaning service in Barrington, N.H. Joann was extremely talented and creative, learning to sew, knit, crochet, cook, and garden from her mother. Joann excelled in photography and loved to travel. She also enjoyed decorating her home. Joann was an extremely caring and loving person who will be deeply missed by her family. Joann leaves her life partner, Timmothy Cunningham of Barrington, N.H.; daughters Taylor Cunningham of Dover N.H., and Cady McKee and grandson Callan of Colorado; siblings Barbara Pritchard of Guilford, Heidi Huber of Hinsdale, N.H., Anita Tavalli of Northfield, Donald Huber of Northfield, and David Huber of Athol, Mass.; stepmother Rita Huber of Northfield; and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents and her sister Linda Gibowicz of Greenfield, Mass. Memorial information: A gathering to celebrate Joann’s life will be held at the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Northfield on June 6 at noon. Another gathering will take place in Barrington N.H., on June 14.

• Gerald Harry “Gerry” Meister, 89, formerly of Hinsdale, N.H. Died peacefully on Jan. 17, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. For nine years, he bravely lived with Parkinson’s Disease, later complicated by dementia and, in September 2019,was admitted to the Memory Care Unit at Langdon Place of Keene, N.H. He was born in Denmark, N.Y., on Sept. 2, 1930, the son of the late Harry and Ruth (Hancock) Meister. Gerald will be remembered for his gentle ways and kind heart, the beautiful property he expertly cared for where he planted over 30 trees, some decorative, most rare or unusual. He was well known for his nut and fruit trees and for many years sold blueberries, apples, and peaches. He loved spending time with family, all of the Meister cats, hiking, enjoying bird watching and nature, listening to jazz, following the stock market, and watching the New England sports teams, his favorite being the Red Sox. He especially enjoyed returning to New York State and attending Meister family reunions. Gerald graduated from West Carthage (N.Y.) High School in 1948 where he played basketball on the team that won the Frontier League Championship in 1946 and 1947. He enlisted in the Navy in 1948 and, during the Korean War, was a radio operator aboard the troop transport ship USS Freemont. After his discharge in 1951, he worked a variety of jobs, including working for the New York Central railroad. In 1956, Gerald moved to Florida to work for RCA on the Polaris guided missile test project and was stationed at Cape Canaveral and downrange on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. He later “went to the dogs” in 1960, working as a chart writer and racing secretary at several Florida tracks. When Hinsdale Raceway introduced greyhound racing in 1973, Gerald got the job to get the program going and the family relocated to New Hampshire. He was later promoted to director of racing and retired in 1990. He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Susan Meister of Walpole, N.H.; two daughters, Jill Meister and her husband, Sean McKernan, of Ansonia, Conn., and Jennie Meister and her husband, Jeff Vose, of Walpole; granddaughter Genevieve Rogers of Walpole; sister Mary Elizabeth O’Neil and husband Al of Laurel Springs, N.J.; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by former wife Miriam Meister, and his sisters Gertrude Vaccaro and Marion Wilkinson. Memorial information: A family celebration of life and burial service is being planned for spring at Sunnyside Cemetery in Croghan, N.Y. Donations to the Monadnock Humane Society, 101 W. Swanzey Rd., Swanzey, NH 03446 or Parkinson’s Disease Research, APDA, 135 Parkinson Ave., Staten Island, NY 10305.

• Virginia Ann “Ginny” McGinn, 68, formerly of Brattleboro. Died Jan. 26, 2020, after a lengthy and staggeringly arduous medical journey. An eighth generation Vermonter, she was born in St. Johnsbury on Nov. 23, 1951, the daughter of Eugene and Viola McGinn. She graduated from Brattleboro Union High School, the Thompson School of Practical Nursing, and Hartford College with a special interest in respiratory therapy. She was also a licensed auctioneer. Ginny was a wonderful nurse and developed immediate rapport with her patients owing to her generosity, empathy and irreverent sense of humor. Following her extensive nursing career, she worked at both Rexall and Walmart pharmacies. She is survived by her sister Constance and her husband, Bruce, of Conway, Mass; brothers Richard and his wife, Mary, of Greenfield, Mass., Dana and his wife, Kate, of Brattleboro, David and his wife, Marci, of Danville, and their many children and grandchildren. Her longtime friend and confidant Therese also survives her. Ginny was predeceased by her sister Catherine and dear friend Mary Lane. Memorial information: A memorial Mass will be held in the spring. Donations to the National Kidney Foundation or a charity of your choosing.

• Edwin Oscar Pratt, Sr., 93, of Langdon, N.H. Died peacefully Jan. 28, 2020. Born to Oscar Fred Pratt of Alstead and Mary Agnes Porter of Charlestown on July 2, 1926. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 16 and fought in World War II as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division in the European Theater. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, liberated women who were tortured in cages, and shared his rations with starving children. He received a Purple Heart and an honorable discharge at the rank of staff sergeant. In the 1960s, Edwin pastored the Deliverance Revival Tabernacle in Bellows Falls. He drove trucks for CJ LaFrank Lumber in Alstead, N.H., and also worked for Woodell & Daughters in Alstead. He was married to Claire Hawksley of Alstead for 19 years. Edwin is survived by his wife of 54 years, Judith Balch of Chester; daughter Donna Bascom of Bellows Falls; stepdaughter Wendy Fitch of Milton, Fla.; sons David of Bellows Falls, Daniel of Fitzwilliam, N.H., Dale of Amherst, N.H., Robert of Springfield, Vt; daughter Faith of Underhill, Vt; 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, Mark, who was stillborn, and Edwin Pratt, Jr. in 2005. Memorial information: A memorial service was held Feb. 8, at Fenton & Hennessey Funeral Home in Bellows Falls, followed by burial in Pine Grove Cemetery in Alstead.

• Lila (Topal) Shoshkes, 93, of New York City and Williamsville. Died Jan, 23, 2020. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was the loving wife of the late Milton Shoshkes, proud mother of four daughters (Carol, Ellen, Ann and Deena), grandmother of six (Steven and Joshua Reiss, Rosina and Sam Bosco, and Jesse and Jamie Fried), great-grandmother of eight, and sister of Esther Masser. Lila graduated from Brooklyn College, where she studied Bauhaus design, and did her graduate work in architectural design at Pratt Institute. In 1972, she formed Lila Shoshkes Design Associates, an architectural consulting service, based in New Jersey. She was a lecturer at The New School and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and various other museums in New Jersey and Vermont, including the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. She authored two books on interior design. She spent her summers in Williamsville, and treasured her friends and community there. Memorial information: There will be a memorial service at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel in New York City on March 29. Donations to Planned Parenthood, the New York Public Library, or the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #548 (Wednesday, February 12, 2020). This story appeared on page A4.

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