School news

• Several students at St. Michael's School in Brattleboro recently joined 100,000 students in 21 countries around the world taking the 2023 National Latin Exam and carried off an impressive list of prizes: Lily Tainter earned a cum laude (with honor) certificate. Dezrah Bills received a magna cum laude (with great honor) certificate. Anthony Bills, Sean Froula, Sam Buchanan, Hudson Buckley, Carter Buckley, and John-Paul Delabruere all earned maxima cum laude (with greatest honor) certificates and silver medals. James Gardner was awarded a summa cum laude (with highest honor) certificate and gold medal for his perfect score on the exam.


• Rafael “Ray” Howe Carbonell, 78, of Brattleboro. Died unexpectedly in his office in Brattleboro on May 1, 2023. Ray was with his wife as well as co-workers who attempted to assist. His death was immediate and, thankfully, he did not suffer. Ray was born in Brattleboro on Jan. 16, 1945. He was the first of two children of Lillian Adelaide (Howe) Carbonell of Northfield, Massachusetts and Rafael Martinez Carbonell of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Ray was a hard-working Vermonter who played football at Brattleboro Union High School, where he graduated in 1963. He then graduated from Northeastern University in 1968, and while there joined the Nu Epsilon Zeta fraternity where he made lifelong friends and brothers he continued to see regularly throughout his life. He also obtained a Masters of Business Administration degree from Suffolk University in 1970 while working full-time. In 1969, Ray married Patricia M. Mayor from Miami, Florida. They had two sons: Rafael “Rafe” Mayor Carbonell, born in Boston in 1974, and Sloane Mayor Carbonell, born in Brattleboro in 1976. In October 2015, Ray married Laura Ellen Systo of Guilford, and they shared many laughs, sunsets, and nautical miles together. For years they were accompanied by their furry companion Lucky, whom they took in from the streets of Miami. Ray was an entrepreneur at heart and he excelled as a businessman. He purchased and worked a sawmill in Marlboro, started a wood furniture-making business in Guilford, founded and ran the Guilford Home Center, and added an appliance division as well. After many years of building relationships, he sold the Home Center and in 1985 started Cocoplum Appliances in Brattleboro. That location's success branched into two more locations: Keene, New Hampshire in 1990 and Essex Junction in 2000. Ray was extremely proud of the business and the many employees who helped make it successful. Ray loved travel and adventure. After college, he and his good friend Steve Drowne hitchhiked completely around the world by planes, trains, cars, buses, and boats; they even peeled potatoes in exchange for passage. They also started a not-so-successful fishing charter business. Ray continued to travel the world throughout the years with his family and friends including places all over Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and South Africa. Ray's mother Lillian introduced him to boating and he became an avid sailor and boater. Ray and Laura docked their boat in downtown Burlington, and enjoyed hosting friends and taking trips together from Lake Champlain to New York City, Montreal, Canada, and Miami, via the Intracoastal Waterway, often accompanied by their fearless deck paw Lucky. Aside from his passion to be on the water, Ray was also an avid skier and wanna-be golfer. He would meet up with a group of fraternity brothers each year to ski Vermont. Ray was preceded in death his parents and his brother, Roger Allen Carbonell. Ray is survived byhis wife, Laura E. Systo; son and family, Rafael M. and Maria Sol Patanian Carbonell, Sofia Carbonell, and Sebastian Carbonell; son and wife, Sloane and Marcy Carbonell; and nieces, Jeanne Johnson, Angela Lebel, and Carmel Olver. Memorial information: Calling hours are Thursday, May 11, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Atamaniuk Funeral Home in Brattleboro. A burial service will be held on Friday, May 12, at 11 a.m., at Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery with a reception to celebrate Ray's life to follow from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at Bella Notte at the Brattleboro Country Club. All gatherings are open to anyone with a connection to Ray and his family. Donations to Brattleboro Union High School Athletics at

• Susan Marie Francis “Sue” Limoges John, 80, formerly of Brattleboro. Died April 16, 2023. Born in Claremont, New Hampshire on Aug. 12, 1942, she moved with her family to Bennington and, later, to Brattleboro, where Sue met her future husband, Michael John. Sue began her career as a third-grade teacher, both affecting and inspiring children in the classroom. She then refocused this attention to her own children, staying at home full-time to raise her girls. She and her husband later relocated with the family to Pueblo, Colorado to pursue a career in broadcasting. Mike and Sue put their hearts into a new radio station achieving great success. Eight years later the family moved to Roseville, California, where Sue returned once again to the classroom working as a teacher aide. Anyone who spent time with Sue knew about her sense of humor and her ability to make all feel welcomed in her presence. Her open and generous spirit, along with her dedication and commitment to her family and friends were the foundations on which she built her life. Sue's true gift was her ability to find joy in the everyday. From tending the garden, to connecting with the next great read, or spending time with loved ones, Sue lived every minute. She knew the deep value of family and friendship. Sue is survived by her three daughters, Stephanie, Michelle, and Cindy as well as her grandchildren Addie, Mike, Matt, and Gabe. She was preceded in death by her mother, Adeline, her father, Emery, her sister, Elaine, and husband Michael John. Memorial information: A celebration of life will be held on May 12 in California.

• Adelaide Warner Minott of Guilford died May 2, 2023 in the comfort of her home. Service arrangements are pending and a complete obituary will be published in an upcoming edition of The Commons. Atamaniuk Funeral Home of Brattleboro is in charge of arrangements.

• Eleanor Tyler Petersen, 88, of Brattleboro. Died of Alzheimer's disease on April 30, 2023 at Vernon Green Nursing Home, where she resided for the last two years. She was born in Brattleboro on July 21, 1934, to A. Lawrence Tyler and Doris Ware Tyler. In 2017, Eleanor was predeceased by her beloved husband of 63 years, Stuart. She leaves two children, Steven Petersen of Guilford and Sheryl Petersen Sprague (Mark) of Putney. She leaves grandchildren Kristen Petersen Weaver (Ryan Arms), Heather Petersen Bacon, and Amy Sprague, all of Vermont, Evan Petersen (Reina) of Nevada, and Jennifer Sprague of Connecticut, as well as Andy Bacon of Vermont. She also leaves five adored great-grandchildren: Emily and Trevor Bacon, Elijah Stuart Larson, Teddy Looman, and Maddy Sprague. Eleanor loved her family dearly and took great joy in spending time with them. She enjoyed hosting holiday dinners at her house and spoiling the grandchildren and great-grandchildren with home-baked treats. Eleanor graduated from Brattleboro High School in 1952. After graduation, she worked at the Holstein Association and American Optical. She and Stuart married on May 8, 1954. She was most proud to be a homemaker for many years. In 1983, she began working as a receptionist for Petersen Refrigeration, the business she ran with her husband and son, until a ruptured brain aneurism forced her into retirement at 58. Stuart and Eleanor made many fond memories in their 63 years together - from snowmobiling and square dancing with friends, to the times they spent at their cherished log cabin in Putney, to traveling south in their RV to spend time with family in Alabama. Her great love of ice cream served her until the end. She especially enjoyed trips to Blueberry Haus. Memorial information: There will be no services at this time. To sign an online guestbook with messages of condolence, visit Donations in Eleanor's memory may be sent to Vernon Green Activity Fund, 61 Greenway Drive, Vernon, VT 05354. In Eleanor's honor, have an ice cream cone (any flavor will do).

• Alanna Marie Reilly, 69, of Vernon. Died unexpectedly on April 30, 2023 at her home. Alanna was born in New Hyde Park, New York, the daughter of Peter and Mary (McGowan) Reilly. She was raised in New Hyde Park, attending parochial school prior to moving to Hinsdale, New Hampshire with her family. She was a graduate of Hinsdale High School, Class of 1972. She went on to attend Keene State College where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Human Resources. Alanna had been employed as office manager for Avada Hearing Center in Brattleboro, which she retired from in 2016. Soon after retiring, she dedicated her time in caring for her elderly mother until her death. Previously, she worked in the business office at the Brattleboro Retreat and, prior to this position, had worked at the former Linden Lodge Nursing Home. Alanna was a communicant of St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Brattleboro. She was an avid reader and especially enjoyed the mystery novels by local author Archer Mayor. Of her other interests, she enjoyed playing scrabble, trips to the coast of Maine, nature, and she loved her cats. She was a devoted fan of the New York Yankees and New England Patriots. On October 31, 2000, in Brattleboro, she was married to Sharon Momaney, who survives. Alanna leaves two brothers, Michael Reilly of Brattleboro and Douglas Reilly of Chesterfield, New Hampshire; stepchildren Carrie Boyd of Vernon and Timothy Boyd of Hinsdale; a special aunt, Margaret Ahrens of Maryland; and many nieces, nephews, and several cousins. She was predeceased by her parents; a sister, Susan Cunningham; and a brother, Kevin Reilly. Memorial information: A celebration of Alanna's life will be held at her home on 257 Newton Rd. in Vernon, on Saturday, June 3, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Please bring a chair and your favorite dish to share with family. Donations to the Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302. To send condolences to the family, visit

• Joseph Paul “Joe” Thompson, 63, of Brattleboro. Died April 29, 2023, with his family present, following an eight-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Joe was born in Whitinsville, Massachusetts on Aug. 31, 1959. He and his twin sister, Joann, were adopted by Russell and Mildred (Cate) Thompson of Gill, Massachusetts. Joe graduated from Turners Falls (Mass.) High School with the Class of 1977. His first job was at Western Auto in Greenfield, Massachusetts, but he also purchased his first lawn mower and started perfecting his mowing techniques at that time. He was a volunteer firefighter for the Gill Fire Department while in high school. He started his career in EMS in 1979 by taking an EMT course at Greenfield Community College, where he met his future wife, Joan Martin. Joe and Joan married April 18, 1980 in St. Mary's Catholic Church in Turners Falls. Although the marriage ended in divorce, Joe and Joan maintained a dedicated friendship. He joined the Londonderry Rescue Squad as an active volunteer until moving to Brattleboro in 1982 and joining Rescue Inc. His involvement at Rescue brought him up through the ranks in several key capacities over 42 years, including captain, lieutenant/shift officer, as well as a driver training officer helping to orient new members. At the time of his death, he was in charge of building maintenance at Rescue's Canal Street headquarters, the Division 2 station in West Townshend, and Vermont EMS Academy (VEMSA) in Newfane. No matter the job, he always took great pride in doing his best, never a job half done. In May 2022, Joe was the recipient of the Star of Life Award presented to him in Washington, D.C., for his dedication and service within the field of EMS. On May 2, 2023, three days after his death, he was awarded the Servpro EMS Appreciation 2023 Award in recognition for his “enduring commitment to exceptional service and unparalleled dedication to the communities” in which he served. This award came with the opportunity to “Paint the Plate” at Fenway Park on May 4, 2023. Joe would have liked nothing better than to have been able to be there at Fenway. He has always been an avid Red Sox fan. He was sole proprietor of his business, Thompson Maintenance, working from sunrise until sunset mowing lawns to his exact specifications, and plowing snow in the winter. His skills at these endeavors were cause for him to be much sought after. Joe was, also, a volunteer with the Living Memorial Park Winter Sports Program where he served on the ski patrol. Joe loved the great outdoors as a hunter and a fisherman, and vacations at York Beach, Maine. He always would rather be outside than inside, no matter the weather. Joe especially cherished the time spent with his grandchildren, his best buddy being his grandson Grayson. They enjoyed many adventures together. He has been able for the past four months to really get to know his granddaughters who moved from Texas to be with him. Joe is survived by his life partner, Joan Martin; two children, Gregg Thompson (Jenn) of Brattleboro and Kate Boudreau (Ian) of Williamsville; grandchildren, Devin and Aliviana Thompson and Grayson Boudreau; his mother, Mildred Thompson of Gill; sister Joann Gochinski of Deerfield, Massachusetts, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his father, Russell Thompson and sister, Bonnie Wall. Memorial information: Friends are invited to call at the Atamaniuk Funeral Home on June 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. A celebration of Joe's life will be held on June 5, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the B.P.O. Elks Lodge on Putney Road. Donations to Rescue Inc., P.O. Box 593, Brattleboro, VT 05302; or the Joseph P. Thompson Memorial Scholarship Fund at Rescue Inc. To send condolences, visit

• Frances Ziel, 59, formerly of Brattleboro. Died April 11, 2023 at her home in Tenakee Springs, Alaska, surrounded by her family, after a courageous 14-year battle with cancer. Frances grew up the youngest of three daughters of Francis “Buddy” and Marion (Anderson) Speno in Brattleboro, on the same street as most of her 10 first cousins with the rest of her Italian family a short distance away. Perhaps this, or Frances' equally-strong connection to her mother's Swedish-heritage, forged Frances' lifelong devotion to family near and far. After graduating from Brattleboro Union High School in 1981, Frances attended Keene Beauty Academy and became a hairdresser, first in Brattleboro, then San Francisco, and finally in Seattle. In 2000, Frances moved to Tenakee Springs, where she ran The Bakery, and soon began volunteering for the Tenakee school. Frances was elected to Chatham School District's Regional School Board in 2016, when she threw herself into solving Tenakee's enrollment challenges by creating the Tenakee Independent Learning Center (ILC), a public homeschool co-op that she helped grow into a statewide distance program. Frances' legacy to Tenakee and hundreds of rural students across the Chatham school district lives on. Frances loved and was deeply committed to her family, her faith, her community, and to her husband Rudy, the love of her life. The house they rebuilt together was the hub for Sunday dinners, family reunions and community celebrations big and small; Frances had a knack for making ordinary events into magical celebrations, and an incredible ability to bring community together. As Meryl Connelly-Chew said, “her belief that celebrations were special and important made us feel special and important.” Frances is survived by her husband Rudy Ziel; her sisters Lisa Speno (Tuck Harry) and Linnea Lospenosochatel, her aunts Marie Corbeil and Fannie Speno; her stepmother Gail Speno, and numerous cousins in the U.S. and Sweden. She was predeceased by both of her parents. Memorial information: A funeral will be held in Brattleboro on May 13, at 11 a.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church at 11 a.m. with burial in St. Michael's Cemetery. There will also be a celebration of her life in Tenakee Springs in the fall. Donations her grandparents' scholarship fund, the William and Emily Speno Memorial Scholarship Fund, in care of the WSESU District office, 53 Green St., Brattleboro, VT 05301. To offer condolences, visit


An alcohol-free celebration of life for Stephen Roy “Harley Charley ” Banis will be held rain or shine on May 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Guilford Fairgrounds. Come with your motorcycle, hot rod, or classic car or truck to join with friends and family in celebrating Charley's life. Bring a dish if you wish or enjoy burgers and hot dogs from Biker Bob's Food Truck. Mr. Banis, 75, of Guilford died at home on Jan. 24, 2023.

The family of Joan Lake extends a warm invitation to her many friends and communities for a celebration of life service on May 27, at 2 p.m., at Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center (formerly Grafton Ponds). A community gathering will follow the service at the same location. Everybody is invited to remain and to share their personal memories of Joan. Interment will be private, at a time of the family's choosing. Mrs. Lake, 92, of Grafton, died peacefully at home on Oct. 6, 2022.

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