College news

The following local students were honored for academic achievement during the spring 2023 semester at Champlain College in Burlington. Ashley Bolton of South Londonderry and Zachary Condon of Whitingham were named to the Trustees' List for maintaining a 4.0 GPA for two or more consecutive semesters. Bolton, Condon, and Janelle Fisher of Whitingham were named to the President's List for maintaining a 4.0 GPA during the spring semester. John Clark of Brattleboro, Jayden Crawford of Wilmington, Hailee Mattson of Dummerston, Cullen O'Hern of East Dover, Nicholas Stratton of Putney, and Sasha Tschernisch of Brattleboro were all named to the Dean's List for maintaining a 3.5 or better GPA.

• Meagan Kelly of Westminster was named to the spring 2023 Dean's List at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.


• Robert Francis DuBack, 90, of Brattleboro. Died at home, surrounded by his wife and children, on July 13, 2023. Robert is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Joyce (Raicht) DuBack; his children, Elizabeth Bowie of Connecticut, Steven DuBack and his wife Robin Murphy of Florida, Ingrid Rawling and her husband Scott of Connecticut, Florence Shephard and her husband Kristian Harris of California, David Shephard and his wife Judie of Alabama, and Michelle Craig and her husband Tim of Connecticut; his stepdaughter Kersten Vigus of Pennsylvania; and sisters June Marques of Colorado, and Joyce Piccirillo of Connecticut. He was blessed with 13 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. Robert was predeceased by his parents Cecelia (Mazes) and Charles DuBack; brothers Albert, Jack, Charles, and Raymond DuBack; and sisters Cecelia Zaleta and Shirley D'Aulisa. Robert was born on Jan. 21, 1933, in Fairfield, Connecticut. He was a Navy veteran who served his country during the Korean War. Robert was an accomplished artist, sculptor, painter, and carpenter. In addition to art shows in Brattleboro and other locations in the Northeast, some of his artwork has been displayed at Peter Havens in Brattleboro and is on display at the New England House in Brattleboro. Robert was familiarly known as the "napkin artist" of Brattleboro. Wherever he went, he brought along his sketching pens and joyfully did two-minute napkin sketches of anyone in his sight. Many people in Brattleboro and other locations around the world still display his quick portraits on their walls and refrigerators. Occasionally, Robert would deliver one of his quick portraits to someone eating in a restaurant at a table near him and they would come to thank him and mention that they had framed the napkin portrait he did of them two years earlier. Robert lived a very creative life from his artwork, poetry, and writings to the circle of friends that surrounded him and Joyce with love and laughter. He was an avid golfer and sometimes was known to swing his club so hard that Joyce's brother Bob renamed him a golfing Paul Bunyan. Robert was a very spiritual being and many of his writings were written to communicate what he felt were important thoughts and ideas to his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Robert enjoyed traveling and learning about other cultures around the world. He enjoyed many trips to all parts of North America, Europe, Asia, South America, and frequently vacationed in the Caribbean and Central America. Memorial information: There will be a private celebration of life ceremony. Donations to the American Lung Association at or the COPD Foundation at To view Robert's online tribute, send condolences to the family, or for more information, visit

• Rita Katherine Ensign, 100, of Brattleboro. Died peacefully Monday morning, July 17, 2023 in the comfort of her daughter Karen DeSerres's home in Sunny Acres. Mrs. Ensign was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on Nov. 28, 1922, the daughter of Walter and Katherine (Sullivan) Ellord. Rita graduated from Classical High School in Springfield with the Class of 1940. Rita married her beloved husband, Walter 'Ken' Ensign, on Feb. 26, 1946 and they had three daughters together. She proudly served her country in the United States Navy, honorably discharged from the U.S. Naval Barracks (Women's Reserve) in New York City on July 7, 1945. She worked at Mass Mutual and studied nursing at Springfield Hospital. A woman of steadfast faith, she was a lifelong and faithful Catholic. Rita was most proud of her graduation from a two-year curriculum at the school for spiritual growth and inner healing. She became a Eucharistic Minister when she graduated in 1982. Of her leisure time activities, Rita enjoyed quilting and sewing. She was an accomplished seamstress known for her beautiful needlework. Most importantly, she enjoyed the time she shared with her family. Prior to moving to Brattleboro, she had resided at Providence Place in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Survivors include three daughters, Kathleen Bennett of Seymour, Tennessee, Karen DeSerres of Brattleboro, and Deborah Ensign of Brookings, Oregon; grandchildren Laurie Pederson, Katherine Tribles, Toni Alvano, and Mary Lachenal; and 11 great-grandchildren, whom she adored. Rita was predeceased by her husband; a sister, Rosamond Prutez Ellord; and beloved grandchildren Tracy Williams and Kenneth Desalvo. Memorial information: A funeral Mass was held on July 21 at St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church in Brattleboro, with burial at the Massachusetts Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, where she was laid to rest next to her beloved husband Ken. Donations to Brattleboro Area Hospice, 191 Canal St., Brattleboro, VT 05301; Bridget's Kitchen, 47 Walnut St., Brattleboro, VT 05301; or Perkins Books for the Blind, 175 N. Beacon St., Watertown, MA 02472. To share a memory or offer condolences to the family, visit

• Dana Fletcher Jr., 67, of Vernon. Died unexpectedly, with his wife and family at his side, on July 18, 2023 at the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Dana was born in Brattleboro on Nov. 7, 1955, the son of the late Dana and Patricia (Garrity) Fletcher Sr., and attended Brattleboro Union High School. First and foremost, Dana was a devoted husband, stepfather, son, and brother whose life centered around his family. Dana enjoyed hunting, fishing, weekends at camp, and laughter with his family and friends. He was well-known for taking care of stray cats and very fond of dogs. He enjoyed listening to live local music, dancing, and playing the drums. Dana was a member of the Brattleboro Eagles #2445. On Feb. 7, 1998 at Vernon Union Church, he married Deborah Sedgley. They were married 25 years. He also leaves two children, Jeremy Davis of Halifax and Robert "Bob" of Westmoreland, New Hampshire; brothers Daniel, Sr. (Kim) and Duane (Kim), all of Vernon, Dennis (Celine), David, and Donald (Wendy), all of Brattleboro, and Douglas of Florida; sisters Marybeth Gilson (Steve) of Winchester, New Hampshire and Diana Fletcher (Meredith) of Poultney; step-grandchild Clayton, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Memorial information: Committal rites and burial will be conducted July 29, 2023, at 10 a.m., in West Brattleboro Cemetery on Mather Road, where he will be laid to rest beside his parents. Donation to the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative & Hospice Care, 154 Hitchcock Loop Road, Lebanon, NH 03756, or Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302. To send condolences to the family, visit

• Jonas Emmanuel Blanchet-Fricke, 42, of Brattleboro. Died of a heart attack on March 5, 2023 in Tallahassee, Florida after performing his own brand of "Radical Courage Music" as If Not I Than Who Then, his "one human choir, drum-brigade and performance art theater troupe." Jonas was born at home on Jan. 13, 1981 on the 20-acre Calvert estate in Langley, Virginia once owned by his great-great-great aunt Margaret Scattergood. In the 1950s, the federal government seized the property, allowing Scattergood to occupy it for the remainder of her life; by the time of Jonas's birth, the family farm was surrounded by CIA headquarters and his parents, with their Quaker meeting, were running a sanctuary for Central American refugees on the property. In this unlikely milieu, Sylvia Blanchet and Thomas Fricke deliberated for three weeks before gifting their second child with the prophetically appropriate name of "Jonas Emmanuel," meaning "peaceful being, a gift from God." When Jonas was four years old, the family moved to the Brattleboro area. During his life, Jonas briefly settled in a number of other American cities including Santa Cruz, California; Gainesville, Florida; and Asheville, North Carolina; but always found his way home to Brattleboro. He also took pilgrimages to his father's birthplace in Berlin, as well as his family's adopted home in Bali, Indonesia. It is not possible to catalog all the places Jonas traveled, but the list includes Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom. Jonas graduated from The Putney School in 1999. He briefly attended Warren Wilson College and was offered a scholarship to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but elected to continue his education at Vermont College of Fine Arts studying art history, theory, and practice. One semester away from graduating, Jonas decided he had learned everything he needed to in that particular venue. Always an autodidact, he continued reading and exploring new skills and philosophies both alone and in community with mentors, peers, and students of his own. At age 19, Jonas started working at Putney Daycare Center. This was the first of his many jobs working with children. He was a babysitter, nanny, summer camp counselor, substitute teacher, preschool educator, art teacher, homeschool supporter, and most importantly, a gentle, playful, empathetic friend to little people. He shared his love of creativity with children, teaching and collaborating with them in equal measure. When he himself was a small child, Jonas said he intended "to continue being an artist" when he grew up. In this lifelong pursuit, he was wildly successful, producing an immense body of work in many often-overlapping mediums, including painting, drawing, sculpture, screenprinting, tattoos, puppetry, performance art, textiles, and music. In his own words, Jonas believed "wholeheartedly in the ability of artwork and creative pursuits to start fires of meaning, illuminate paths of quandary and curiosity, inspire change, make life more colorful and vibrant, as well as inspire others to live more creative lives." Jonas also labored tirelessly at creating space and opportunities for other artists as a curator, promoter, organizer, and founding or contributing member of several art collectives including Tinderbox, The Future Collective, the Buoyant Heart, and Harmony Art Collective in Brattleboro. Jonas gave of his body, mind, and soul to promote social change, continuing activist traditions from both the American Quaker and German Jewish parts of his ancestry. He was passionately committed to anti-racist, pro-indigenous, feminist, and queer liberationist causes. Inspired by the political theater of Bread and Puppet, where he interned in his youth, Jonas brought joy and imagination to public demonstrations around the country. In his daily life, Jonas practiced mutual aid, living by his belief in communal care outside of unjust systems of power. Jonas is survived by his parents, his sister Lucia Blanchet-Fricke, partner Jocelyn McElroy, six aunts and uncles, a growing number of cousins, as well as innumerable friends, bandmates, and creative collaborators - hundreds of whom paraded down the streets of Brattleboro to the beat of a brass band soon after Jonas's death, flooding the town with ecstatic fanfare in celebration of his life. Jonas also leaves behind countless young people he nurtured, taught, and played with over more than two decades as an early-childhood educator. Jonas lives on in the people he loved, the communities he fostered, and the works of art he created. Memorial information: Jonas's family and friends will host a Memorial Festival on Saturday, July 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Retreat Farm in Brattleboro that will be open to all who love Jonas or love someone who loves Jonas. This will be followed by live music at the Stone Church performed by Jonas's friends from 7 p.m. to midnight. A suggested donation at the door will benefit the Jonas Legacy Fund, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Donations to the River Gallery School in Brattleboro (, where Jonas took art classes as a child.

• Douglas B. "Spike" Hamilton, Sr., 85, of East Dummerston. Died peacefully at home July 4, 2023, after a period of declining health. Born on Oct. 8, 1937 in Greenfield, Massachusetts to Richard and Nancy Hamilton, he attended Deerfield Academy and Dartmouth College, where he played lacrosse and was a member of Psi Upsilon Fraternity and the Dragon Society. After many years working in retail with his father, he found his calling in carpentry, and later worked as a lister for the town of Dummerston. He enjoyed wooden boats and the Red Sox, and spending summers at the ocean with family in Brooklin, Maine. Doug was loved and respected by all who knew him for his gregariousness and sense of humor. He was predeceased by his first wife Elizabeth "Penny" Ruggles and his second wife Susan McBean. He is survived by son D. Boe Hamilton Jr. and his partner Crystal Hall; daughter Marian H. Harwood and her husband David; sisters Barbara Martin and Peggy Smith and her husband Albie; and many loving cousins, nieces and nephews. Memorial information: Memorial services will occur with details to be determined.

• Corey L. Hastings, 47, of Wilmington. Died July 12, 2023 at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Corey was born in Brattleboro on Nov. 3, 1975, the daughter of the late Lloyd Bacon and Judith A. (Godfrey) Smith and attended schools in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Corey enjoyed spending time with family and friends, her home, and reading. She had an infectious smile and laugh. She is survived by her children Bruce and Sean Palmer of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Alex Hastings of North Carolina, Jag and Jeric Shepard of Brattleboro, and Ramie Lynn Carle; brother Adam P. Godfrey (Carrie) of Winchester, New Hampshire; sisters Star Schumacher of Arizona and Bonnie Hazell of Wilmington; her niece, Marisa Godfrey and many aunts and uncles. She was preceded in death by her daughter Riley Lapshire, who died in infancy. Memorial information: A celebration of life for Corey will be announced and held at a later date. If friends desire, donations can be made to the GoFundMe page in Corey's memory to help offset funeral expenses at To send the family personal condolences, visit

• Alice (Theriault) Kidney, 83, of Putney. Died peacefully on July 6, 2023 at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, with her daughters at her side. Alice was born on July 20, 1939, in Ashland, Maine, to Elizabeth (Jimmo) Theriault and Angus Nat. Theriault. She was the youngest of nine children. She was raised and graduated from high school in Ashland. In 1957, Alice married Kevin C. Kidney, the father of her three children. After their divorce in 1970, Alice worked various jobs and moved around New England, living in New Hampshire and in Connecticut. In 1996, Alice settled in southern Vermont. In her last years, Alice lived in Putney, married to Thomas Bandur. Alice was known for her piercing, light blue eyes, her warm smile, and her enormous kind and gentle heart. Alice's biggest love was for her children and family. She also enjoyed bird watching and was a lover of all animals. She enjoyed the simple, yet magnificent things in life like being out in nature, walks in the woods, napping in the sun, and watching the night skies. Alice was predeceased by her son, Clifford C. (Kip) Kidney, in 2004; her parents and all of her siblings except one sister, Mary (Theriault) Merrill, of Guilford, Maine. Alice is also survived by her daughters, Elizabeth A. Kidney of Whitingham and Kathryn R. (Kidney) Einig and her husband Todd of Guilford; grandchildren Matthew K. Kidney and Kimberly A. Kidney of Tool, Texas, and Cameron J. King and Ava E. Einig of Guilford; and her husband, Thomas Bandur of Putney. Memorial information: Alice will be laid to rest in eternal peace with her son, in Washburn, Maine. There are no official services. Donations to the Windham County Humane Society, P.O. Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302, or

• Joyce Gove Kopczynski, 78, of Winter Park, Florida, formerly of Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Died on March 16, 2023. She was born on Oct. 31, 1944 to the late Reginald and Esther (Richards) Gove of Hinsdale, and graduated from Hinsdale High School in 1962. She married Edward "Eddie" Kopczynski Jr. on July 16, 1966; he died in 2011. Joyce worked at Keene State College and, for many years, as an administrative assistant at Orange County Fire & Rescue in Orlando, Florida. She enjoyed the "brown baggers" luncheons for retired members of the fire department. In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her niece, Cathy Roy. She is survived by her sister Ellen Roy and her husband Joseph of Keene, New Hampshire; her very best friend, Luci; and several cousins. Memorial information: Burial was private.

This piece was submitted to The Commons.