• Alexi Sotskov, athletic director at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, was recently elected to the executive board of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). Sotskov started his career at Vermont Academy in 2002 as director of sports on snow. In 2008, he took a break to be the head ski coach at the University of Maine, Presque Isle (NCAA Division I) from 2009-2010, and serve as an Olympic coach for the New Zealand National Ski Team in 2010. Sotskov returned to Vermont Academy in 2010 after the Vancouver Olympics to resume his role as the director of sports on snow. He has also been a math tutor and instructor since 2010 and recently took on the role of athletic director in 2018. Before his time at Vermont Academy, Sotskov was a member of the Russian National Ski Team from 1978-1989 and coached several Olympic skiers in Russia and the United States.
• Mara Rae Neufeld-Rivera has been appointed as Head of People and Culture at Chroma Technology Corp. of Bellows Falls. Neufeld-Rivera comes to Chroma from Burlington-based PC Construction, where she served as Chief Administrative Officer and VP of Human Resources. She has more than 20 years experience as a senior human resources strategist and executive business partner, and describes herself as having “a deep passion for helping organizations build best-in-class workplace cultures.” She worked as an independent consultant for local firms throughout the Upper Connecticut River Valley and Vermont's Chittenden County. She holds an MS in human resources management from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. in communications from Queens College, City University of New York. Born and raised in New York City, Mara relocated in 2007 to New London, N.H., where she lives with her husband and daughter, and their rescued dogs and cats.
• Leah Benson and Joanna Wright have joined the coaching team of New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro. Benson will coach the ProTrack and adult recreational classes. Benson has experience as a professional dancer and aerialist. She also has teaching experience as program director for the Aloft Loft circus training school in Chicago. Wright is a clowning instructor based in Easthampton, Mass. She holds an MFA in physical theater from the London International School of Performing Arts, and is teaching an adult class in NECCA's fall session.
• Lois Sarah (Sawin) Avery, 95, of Albuquerque, N.M., formerly of Brattleboro. Died peacefully on July 20, 2019. Drawing from conversations over the years, it is easily remarked that Lois held life in the palm of her hands. Always an element of “my way” to her step, Lois experienced a rich and full 95 years of near excellent health. She lived out her final years independently at home in Albuquerque with Precious, her soul-cat, and friend, Michelle Garnham. And although her request was to simply pass away in the comfort of her home, a fall on June 25 prevented fulfillment of this final wish. Born in Brattleboro on Oct. 1, 1923 to Lydia (Bohne) and Earl C. Sawin, she was delivered at home by local obstetrician, Dr. Grace Burnett, who more often than not arrived at the birth home on horseback. Lois attended local elementary schools. She was quite athletic as a young girl and enjoyed skiing on the hill behind her family home. During high school she played basketball and was team captain in her senior year. She graduated with honors from Brattleboro High School in 1941, the same year she was awarded the DAR Good Citizenship Award Silver “B”, one of the proudest moments of her life. In September 1941, she enrolled in the Hartford (Conn.) School of Nursing from which she graduated with honors as a registered nurse in 1944. Following graduation, she was employed by Hartford Hospital as a night supervisor until her marriage in May 1945 to her high school sweetheart, Richard Avery, also of Brattleboro. They settled into their first home in San Diego, Calif., during a time when Mr. Avery was completing a six-year service committment in the Navy. They returned to Brattleboro in 1946. Lois worked in her profession for many years in Brattleboro and, in 1964, elected to return to education participating in undergraduate studies at Greenfield Community College. In 1972, she enrolled in a degree nursing program at St. Joseph's College in Windham, Maine. She always said one of her most treasured accomplishments was in receiving her BSPA at age 55. She served as director of nursing at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital from 1965 to 1970, after which she was hired as administrator of Linden Lodge Nursing Home until 1973, when she was named administrator at Thompson House, a position from which she retired in 1983. She was very active in the Vermont Nurses Association, which she served as secretary from 1971 to 1973. In 1977, she was elected president of the Vermont Nursing Home Association and, one year later, was named director of the Board of Administrators. Lois and Richard moved to the Southwest in 1983, enjoying residence among the fragrant orange groves of Mesa, Ariz., until 1991 when they relocated to Albuquerque. An avid gardener, Lois could often be found nurturing a rose garden. In earlier days in Brattleboro, her South Street vegetable garden was a masterpiece of deliciousness; she developed a specialty for growing and canning Kentucky Wonder green beans for her family to enjoy throughout the long Vermont winter. Lois enjoyed doing fine needle work, a skill learned during summer vacations with her grandmother. This talent extended to sewing and knitting, crafting stuffed animals, and crewel work. There was very little handwork she could not accomplish with the relative ease of her expert eye. Relationships with friends were a source of enjoyment, especially time spent with a circle of women who called themselves “The Knitting Club.” With a bonded interest in handwork, their gatherings offered a means to discuss the latest goings on “in town” as well. For relaxation, Lois enjoyed ten-pin bowling with teammates and occasional rounds of golf at Stratton Mountain with her husband. Lois and Richard enjoyed their retirement and traveled through all areas of our country. Pets always had a place in her heart, a love she acquired from a very early age. She was very fond of her two family felines, Whiskers and Cricket, both of whom lived out their long lives hunting in the fields behind her home in West Brattleboro. Lois also had a great love of Siberian Huskies, these beautiful dogs, Koala and then Trinka, made their home with the family and were especially glad to be in Vermont during the winter months. So much more telling than these details, is the resilience and tenacity that best describes Lois as she approached each day, especially as her time on earth was coming to a close. Her body was falling apart and she was slowly losing her eyesight and she wasn't sure if she wanted to keep on living with the daily challenges. Yet, Lois never lost her keen insight and ability to rise each morning with a “to do” list in mind ready for pencil and paper; a daily ritual that created purpose for her day. And, she still enjoyed an occasional visit to the local casino to play her favorite slot machine or watching Jeopardy on TV. No day would be complete without her inquiry of the Red Sox or Celtics game times. A brief stay at Presbyterian Hospital early in 2018, presented an opportunity for Lois's legacy in nursing education to be preserved. As she lay in her hospital bed, her nursing cap on her head, thoughts culminated around the lack of personal care and treatment she was receiving. Upon her discharge, she wrote a letter and not long afterward, she was recognized for reigniting the compassion and awareness of individual patient's unique needs, By invitation, she was honored to participate in their Compassion Campaign through a video produced specifically for new employee orientation. Lois was preceded in death by her parents. She was also predeceased by her husband in 2011, sister Lydia Sawin Perry in 2005, and brother Earl Clifton Sawin in 2018. Lois is survived by two daughters, Susan and Gretchen Avery. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Memorial information: A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at noon, at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, followed by committal at Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery on Orchard Street. The Thompson House will host a celebration of her life at 2 p.m. Donations to the Windham Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302.
• Berenice H. Brooks, 72, of Townshend. Died Sept. 6, 2019 with her family at her side at the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care in Lebanon, N.H., following a lengthy illness. A lifelong resident of the West River Valley, Berenice was born in Brattleboro on Nov. 21, 1946, the daughter of Frank and Leslie (Barber) Hamilton of Newfane. She was raised and educated in Newfane, graduating from Leland & Gray Seminary with the Class of 1965. She worked in the offices of Dr. Edward Mulhern in Townshend. Previously, she worked at Mary Meyer Toy Company and in the healthcare field, which included driving ambulances. Active civically, Berenice served on the Townshend Selectboard and Planning Commission and held membership in the American Legion Auxiliary, West River Post #16, in Townshend. She enjoyed spending time with her family and friends and watching her son Kevin and grandson Brayden at local truck and tractor pull competitions. She also followed her grandchildren's sports endeavors. Berenice also enjoyed travel, trips to Lake Winnipesaukee and time with her three cats. She married David G. Brooks in 1965, who predeceased her in 2000. Survivors include her three children, Christine Erunski (Tim) of Chesterfield, N.H., Michele Brooks of Townshend, and Kevin Brooks (Tracy) of Brookline; five grandchildren, Allysun, David, Emma, Connor and Brayden; a great grandson, Brody; one sister, Ruth Daigneault, and her dear close friend, Kit Martin. Additionally, she leaves several nieces, nephews, in-laws, dear friends and her beloved cats. Besides her husband, she was predeceased by her parents; one brother, George Hamilton; and dear friend, Art Monette. Memorial information: A graveside service was held Sept. 22 in Oakwood Cemetery in Townshend, and a memorial gathering and potluck reception followed at Newbrook Fire Station. Donations to Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302, or to the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care, Office of Development, 1 Medical Center Drive, HB 7070, Lebanon, NH 03756. To sign an online guestbook with messages of condolence to the Brooks family, visit www.atamaniuk.com.
• James Patrick “Jim” Cecere, 68, of Putney. Died Sept. 18, 2019 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., from complications following heart surgery in May. He valiantly fought numerous complications for 16 weeks until his death. Born in New Britain, Conn., on May 9, 1951, the son of Frank and Viola (DiFrancesco) Cecere, he was raised and educated in Connecticut and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut. He had been employed by the town of Brattleboro at the Brattleboro Community Justice Center as an offender reentry specialist/coordinator. Previously, he worked as a job placement counselor for the Vermont Association of Business Industry Rehabilitation. Prior to moving to Vermont, he owned and operated Alpine Ski and Sports with several locations in Connecticut. Jim was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a former member of the Elks Club, and was an active member with the West River Valley Lions Club several years ago. He was also a very active volunteer for several area organizations and, years ago, served as the president of the Grace Cottage Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary. He was large in stature, and had a “bigger-than-life” personality. Jim was known for his spirit of friendship and generosity to all. For several years, with his wife, Jim also served as a foster parent. Jim will also be remembered for his wonderful sense of humor and razor-sharp wit. His intellect and knowledge were impressive, and he had a fun and often mischievous side. Jim enjoyed playing bridge and billiards, and loved to attend live theater, musicals, and stand-up comedy shows with his wife. He was also an avid movie buff. He was a lifelong animal lover, and loved his pets. He will be sorely missed by his beloved and faithful companion, his German Shepherd Nirhu, and his Blue & Gold Macaw, “Schwartzie.” He was married to the love of his life, Diane Therriault, on Sept. 16, 2000. Besides his wife of 19 years, he leaves a sister, Diane LeMaire of Berlin, Conn.; two nephews, Scott and Eric LeMaire; three stepsons, Michael Coughlin (Sandra Becerra) Blaine Coughlin (Yuka), and Evan Coughlin; an honorary daughter, Gillian Lucero-Love, and several aunts, uncles, cousins, and a host of friends. Memorial information: A celebration of his life will be held Tuesday, Oct. 8, from noon to 3 p.m., at VFW Post 1034 in Brattleboro, with a luncheon provided by the VFW Auxiliary. Dress comfortably, as Jim would have wanted. Donations to Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302, or to the Drop-In-Center, 60 South Main St., Brattleboro, VT 05301. To sign an online register book or send messages of condolence to the family, visit www.atamaniuk.com.
• Maurice L. “Moe” Chapin, 95, of Townshend. Died peacefully on Sept. 7, 2019 at Valley Cares. Moe was born on May 22, 1924 in West Townshend to Leon and Florence (Allen) Chapin. On June 2, 1945 he was married to Helen L. King in Jamaica. Moe was raised in Jamaica, and graduated from Leland & Gray Seminary in 1942. He attended Vermont Agricultural School before being summoned to the family farm during World War II. A pioneer in artificial insemination of dairy cattle to eradicate brucellosis, he held an honorary degree from the University of New Hampshire. After a successful career spanning the joining of Vermont Breeders' Association with New Hampshire Breeders' Association and then a merger with Eastern Artificial Inseminators, he moved on to the New Hampshire Farm Bureau. While at NHFB he held the post of field services manager and later became executive director. He served on the Field Services Board of the American Farm Bureau Federation while still employed by NHFB. His outstanding contributions to this board and exemplary work in agriculture gained him the responsibility of becoming the Northeast regional manager at the American Farm Bureau Federation until his retirement in 1986. Moe enjoyed fishing, hunting, travel, and sports, especially baseball and the Boston Red Sox. He had a great love of agriculture and the outdoors. He spent years traveling throughout the United States and Canada after his retirement. Maurice and Helen had four children: David (Emily) of Lebanon, N.H., Linda Sweetser (Richard Jr.) of Cumberland, Maine, Barry (Gayle) of Linesville, Pa., and Ellen Hardy (Jeffrey) of Vernon. He had eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife of 53 years. Memorial information: An informal graveside service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 1 p.m., at the East Jamaica Cemetery. Friends and family are invited to attend. Donations to Valley Cares, Inc., P.O. Box 341, Townshend, VT 05353
• Merton Lewis “Doc” Garland, 84, of Guilford. Died Sept. 17, 2019 at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, following a brief illness. A lifelong resident of the area, he was born in Dummerston on June 20, 1935, the son of William and Gertrude (Pond) Garland. He was raised and educated in Dummerston and was a graduate of Brattleboro High School, Class of 1952. He went on to attend Vermont Technical College, graduating in 1953. In 1955, he married Beatrice Farnum. Doc had been employed as a truck driver and mechanic for Houghton Sanitary Services in Guilford until he retired. Previously, he worked at American Optical and Furgat Tractor & Equipment, Inc., both in Brattleboro. Active civically, Doc served on the Guilford Selectboard, was the former emergency management representative for the town, and served as cemetery caretaker for many years. He also was a member of the Guilford Volunteer Fire Department. Doc was a member of the B.P.O. Elks, Brattleboro Lodge #1499 and was a member of Guilford Community Church, where he served as a deacon. When his children were being raised, he coached Little League Baseball and was active with the youth group. Of his pastimes and interests. he enjoyed hunting, cutting and splitting wood, puttering around his home, flower gardening, talking to his Alpacas, and time with his beloved dogs. He was mechanically inclined and could fix and repair anything with a motor. He was a faithful and devoted husband, and a loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend to many. Besides his wife, he leaves his children: Henry Garland, Sr. (Sandy), Dennis Garland (Celia), Phyllis Garland, Richard Garland (Becky), and Kelly A. Garland; two brothers, Arnold Garland (Roberta) and Carlton Garland (Bonnie); and two sisters, Natalie Garland LaChance and Mary Garland. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, 10 great-great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. Memorial information: Graveside committal services were conducted Sept. 21 in Christ Church Cemetery in the Algiers section of Guilford. Donations to Guilford Volunteer Fire Dept., 108 Guilford Center Rd., Guilford, VT 05301, or to Meals on Wheels, 207 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301. To sign an online register book or send messages of condolence to the family, visit www.atamaniuk.com.
• Elissa “Lisa” Link, 71, of Brattleboro. Died peacefully at Grace Cottage Hospital on Sept. 19, 2019. She was born in New York City on March 25, 1948, to Margaret and Albert Toth. Although Lisa compassionately fulfilled her profession as a nurse for 40 years, her strongest dedication, commitment, and love was for Jehovah God and serving as a minister for 38 years. On June 10, 1972, she married John Link, with whom she maneuvered through the ups and downs of life. Their loving son, Jeremy, was born in 1979. She is survived by her loving husband, John; son Jeremy and his fiancé Kathy and son Kellen; her sister Nancy and husband Bruce Ogeka of Fairfield, Maine, and their daughter Susie and son Scott; her brother Donald and wife Debbie Toth of Farmingdale, N.Y., and their children Meghan and Christopher. Lisa was predeceased by her parents and a niece, Lynn. Memorial information: A memorial service will be held at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Edward Heights in West Brattleboro on Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. Donations to the Brattleboro Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.
• Rev. Francis Xavier McMahon, S.S.E., 94. Died Sept. 15, 2019 in Townshend. Father McMahon was born in Bronx, N.Y., on May 18, 1925, the son of Francis Patrick McMahon and Teresa McCrea McMahon. After service in the Army Air Forces from 1943 to 1945 during World War II, he attended St. Michael's College, graduating in 1949. He professed his first vows in the Society of Saint Edmund in 1950 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954. Father McMahon's assignments in the Society of Saint Edmund were as Secretary to the Superior General (1954-1955); Vocations Director (1954-1958), including two years in Selma, Ala., (1956-1958); Master of Novices in Mystic, Conn. (1958-1965); Regional Superior and Pastor, Saint Edmund of Canterbury Parish, Whitton, Twickenham, England (1965-1973); Superior (1974-1975) and Director of Novices (1974-1976) at Saint Edmund's Novitiate, Mystic, Conn.; Pastor of Saint Thomas More Parish, North Stonington, Conn. (1976-1992); Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Parish, Groton, Conn. (1992-2001); in residence at St. Michael's Parish, Brattleboro (2001-2006), where he was an active member of the Knights of Columbus; at Our Lady of Mercy Parish and West River Missions, Putney (2006-2014); and at Valley Cares Assisted Living Facility, Townshend (2014-2019). In addition to his brothers in the Society of Saint Edmund, Father McMahon leaves two nieces, Gene-Mary Kenny and Donna Pollack, a nephew, William J. Lessard, several great- and great-great nieces and nephews, and devoted friends Thomas W. Costello, Esq. and Patricia St. Peter. He was predeceased by his parents and by two sisters, Genevieve T. Kenny and Patricia Lessard. Memorial information: A funeral Mass was held at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Michael's College, in Colchester on Sept. 20, 2019, with burial in the Edmundite plot in Saint Mary's Cemetery in Swanton.
• Carroll Graham “Gray” Mead, 95, of Williamsville. Died peacefully at Vernon Green on Sept. 14, 2019. He was born on Christmas Day in 1923 to Howard and Rose Mead of Darien, Conn. He was their little Christmas Carroll. When Carroll became a teenager, he decided it would be easier to go by Graham. His nickname, Gray, is what all friends and family have known him by for the past 80 years. At 18, Gray headed to Guilford College in North Carolina, where he met the love of his life, Nancy. With the commencement of World War II, Gray enlisted in the Navy. Before being shipped out, Nancy and Gray tied the knot and were happily married for 61 years. They were blessed with three children: Bobby, Kenneth and Joyce. During his 31 years in the Navy, he served as a sonar man and enjoyed traveling the seas on destroyer escorts, submarines, sub tenders, and ice breakers. He retired with the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Upon retiring, Gray obtained his teaching degree and, with his beloved wife, taught for 20 years in East Lyme, Conn. After retiring from teaching, Gray and Nancy enjoyed traveling the world and moving to Vermont. The homes of their beloved children and grandchildren were Nancy and Gray's favorite places to visit. Gray had infinite love for his family. They were his pride and joy. There was never a day that went by when he wouldn't share with others their accomplishments. After Nancy died in 2007, he moved to Vernon Hall. He quickly became a contributing part of this community. Gray was a gifted pianist. He could tickle the ebony and ivory completely by ear. He graced the Vernon Home Community with his talent and will be long remembered for the many hours of enjoyment he gave to his fellow residents. Gray will be forever loved and missed by his family. He leaves his children and their spouses, Kenneth and Betsy Mead of Washington, D.C., and Joyce and David VanPamelen of Newfane. Additionally, he is survived by his granddaughters and their spouses, Hillary and David Ziegler and Jennifer and Eddie Dunn, and great grandchildren Owen Ziegler, Keelin Dunn, and Connor Dunn. He was predeceased by his son Bobby and wife Nancy. Memorial information: A celebration of his life was held Sept. 22 at Vernon Hall. His burial was Sept. 23 at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph. Donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758541, Topeka, KS 66675, or K9s For Warriors at www.k9sforwarriors.org. To sign an online register book or send messages of condolence to the family, visit www.atamaniuk.com.