Around Town – November 12, 2020

Congratulations to John Oren of Charlotte who was featured in an article in the Nov. 4 Seven Days that looked at his business of selling high-end, specialized microscopes to medical institutions, museums and research centers around the world. Oren runs his operation out of an unpretentious building at the junction of Church Hill Road and Route 7 in Charlotte. Residents may recall the building as a bingo parlor, snack bar and creemee stand, a regular stop for Little League baseball players after games. Oren sold the warehouse last year and now works from home.

John came to Vermont with his family, his father being the founder of UVM’s Department of Sociology in 1958. The son lived in San Francisco during the early 1980s before returning to Charlotte midway through that decade. Originally a photographer, he became interested in microscopes that he had salvaged. Soon he became known as a repairer of previously owned scopes, which, if well refurbished, could be sold as used instruments to members of the scientific community. When sold new, the instruments were quite expensive. Although he calls his work a “specialty niche,” he has enjoyed it.

Congratulations also to three Charlotte students whose poems appeared in the Burlington Free Press’ “Young Writers Project” recently.

Margaret Eagan’s poem titled “American?” appeared on Oct. 30. Margaret says that, while she considers herself an American, she is not necessarily like her ancestors. She is here to learn, “not to exterminate.” She says that while she is white, the color of one’s skin or texture of one’s hair should not be crimes. She is here for her family, and while she knows she is white, she asks readers to “believe me when I say I’m going to fight.”

Annika Gruber’s poem “Halloween night,” and Ava Rohrbaugh’s “Morning on the bus” were selected for the Nov. 6 Writers Project. Annika felt absorbed by the ominous nature of Halloween, an eerie, cold and still place, if only for a minute. She walks through a ghost town, shivering and breathing until she realizes that “Halloween has taken flight!”

Ava describes an early-morning bus ride over a dirt road with the mountains in the background. Her teeth click on the bumps. The trees appear to be paper cutouts in the early morning light. Ava sees the “yawning world through the dirt in the (bus) window.”

Sympathy is extended to family and friends of James E. Mansfield of Barre who died in an automobile accident resulting from a medical incident on Oct. 18 at the age of 54. James attended Charlotte Central School and graduated from Champlain Valley Union High School. The family asks those wishing to make donations to help his children with funeral expenses to contact his sister, Randi McCuin, in Essex at (802) 878-7689.

Obituary: Catherine Turner Varney
Catherine Turner Varney, formerly of Charlotte, died peacefully with her family by her side on October 27, 2020. Born to Edith Charlotte (Merchant) and George Wilbur Coburn Turner on March 13, 1932 in New Haven, CT. The family eventually settled in Burlington, VT where Catherine Louise Turner was raised on a small farm on East Avenue.

Always learning new things, from preserving her garden produce to the gadgets of the information age, dressmaking—where she won the Vermont State 4H competition in dress design and construction and a prize trip to Chicago— caning furniture, and genealogy, Catherine was particularly interested in learning skills that are not as well known in this day and age. She graduated from Burlington High School and attended University of Vermont and Purdue University. Active in civic and community organizations over many years, she led Cub Scouts, joined the school board, and was a member of the Charlotte Congregational Church and choir, and the fraternal Order of the Eastern Star.

Catherine was married to Harry Ross Varney on August 30, 1952, beginning a union with her brother Gerald’s best friend that lasted over sixty-five years. Together Catherine and Harry owned and operated dairy farms in Charlotte, where for many happy years they raised their five children. After retirement in 1980, Catherine and Harry lived in Florida during the winter months, where she enjoyed tending a vast orchid collection, was an accomplished landscape and portrait artist and became a very good golfer. They spent summers near family on Long Point in Ferrisburgh.

Catherine is survived by her four daughters: Linda (Steve) Reinhalter of North Carolina, Suzanne (Erik) Johnsrud of Utah, Dorothy (Jeff) Hill of Charlotte, and Carol Varney of Florida, and her son Robert (Donna) Varney of Jericho. She is also survived by her brother Robert (Pat) Turner, thirteen grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and several cousins, nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Harry, brother Gerald Turner, and granddaughter Sara Jo Varney. An immediate private burial will take place in Bristol. Memorial contributions may be made in her name to the American Cancer Society.