Around Town – January 14, 2021

Congratulations to Kate Brennan Keech and Ava Rohrbaugh whose poems were selected to appear in issues of the Burlington Free Press Young Writers Project. Ava wrote about her pet friend, “Crystal Dog” saying that he likes it when she takes his collar off and allows him to go free. Going free in the forest, he chooses what to sniff and what tracks to follow. He tends to lose his identity as a dog, that he “burns brighter than the homely crystal dog.” Ava wonders whether there is something like this shift away from being coddled, what she calls “crinkled ancient but there nonetheless,” in all of us.

Kate had two of her poems make two separate Writers Projects. One appeared Christmas day last year; the other Jan. 8. In December she wished “Goodbye 2020.” The year brought a number of things to human culture that had not appeared previously—most brought on by the corona virus. Listing items and actions that she hoped would not continue beyond 2020, she says she won’t miss them at all (including, incidentally, a “president who doesn’t know a thing”).

Kate’s second poem, “Wonderful Things,” opens with the author saying “This poem is irrelevant. Seriously, you have better things to do.” However, after listing a batch of better things to do, she closes by saying that if the reader is not doing “an infinite number of wonderful things . . . feel free to read this poem.”

Congratulations to Charlotte resident and attorney Gary Franklin for being named Managing Shareholder and Board Chair for the Burlington law firm of Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer. Having built a successful law practice over the years in New York and California as well as Vermont, Gary served as president of both the Chittenden County and Vermont Bar Associations.

Congratulations and “hail, hail Rock and Roll” to guitarist and bandleader Xander Naylor, who has produced another album, this one titled Continuum. According to Chris Farnsworth, music reviewer for Seven Days, this follow-up album to Transition, has ascended to another level. Xander grew up in Charlotte before moving to New York to study his musical craft, earning a degree in jazz performance. He is the son of Magdalena Naylor and the late Thomas Naylor.

Sympathy is extended to family and friends of Andy Mansfield of Charlotte who passed away Dec. 18 at the age of 81. Born in Stowe, he moved to Charlotte where he worked as a skilled finish carpenter, performing largely custom work, home items such as cabinets, gun cases, even doll houses. Andy married Marlene Russell in 1980. She predeceased him. The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to remember him consider making a donation to the Humane Society of Chittenden County.

Sympathy is extended to family and friends of Elizabeth Cilley, most recently of Elderwood in Burlington and prior to that a longtime resident of Essex Juncton. Elizabeth died on Christmas Day at the age of 91. After a long teaching career, she retired in 1992 as head of the English Department at Albert D. Lawton Intermediate School in Essex. Her surviving family includes daughter Julie Voll and Julie’s husband, Peter, and daughter Andrea Cilley, all of Charlotte. The family asks that those wishing to make donations in her memory consider doing so to the Heavenly Food Pantry, First Congregational Church of Essex Junction.

Sympathy is extended to family and friends of Norm Bean, a longtime Charlotte dairy farmer who passed away Dec. 11 in Holly Hill, Florida at the age of 93. Norm and his wife, Jane, operated a dairy farm on the Charlotte/Hinesburg Road for over 50 years. She died in 2001. Norm is survived by his daughter Diane Johnson of Charlotte, a son living in Shoreham, two sisters and two brothers plus numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. Donations in Norm’s name may be made to Halifax Health Hospice, 3800 Woodbriar Trail, Port Orange, FL 32129.

Leo G. LaBerge
Leo G. LaBerge (aka Lee, Butch), 65, of Charlotte passed away on Dec. 23 after a long illness. He was the fifth child of Reina and Leo LaBerge of Charlotte.

He graduated from CVU in Hinesburg in 1972. He went to VT Technical College in Randolph, graduating in 1976 with an associate’s degree in Architecture.

Leo G. LaBerge
Leo G. LaBerge

He worked many different jobs in many different fields, including as caregiver for our father during his final illnesses; he also worked for the Post Office for several years.

He was pre-deceased by both our parents, his sisters Colleen LaBerge McGrath, Bedette LaBerge Viens, Renette LaBerge Procopio, and his brother, Roland Laberge.

He is survived by his brothers Gerard (Beth) LaBerge of Barre, Donald Laberge of Charlotte, and Marcel LaBerge of Burlington, and his sisters Leona LaBerge of South Burlington, Lynn (Tom) Croto of Essex, Viv LaBerge of Canaan, CT, and Julie (Kevin) Lusignan of Milton. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews and many great nieces and nephews, and good friends Nancy Dyke of Bristol, Mike Yantachka of Charlotte, and Kingsley Nice of Ohio.

Due to Covid-19 issues, no funeral services will be held. Instead of flowers send hugs and prayer to those we love in Heaven.

William McHenry Keyser
After struggling with aggressive pneumonia and complications from lifelong diabetes, William McHenry Keyser died peacefully on Dec. 15 with his wife, Virginia, by his side near their new home in Lake Wales, FL.

Mac Keyser

Mac was born on Aug. 2, 1952, in New Bedford, Mass., near Marion, a treasured place where he spent time every summer with his family. The son of R. Brent Keyser and Helen Angier Keyser, Mac attended the Gilman School and the Harvey School and later graduated from Middlesex School. While attending New England College, his love of music and skiing led to his moonlighting as a disc jockey and working on the ski patrol at nearby Pat’s Peak Mountain. Upon graduating from NEC, he moved to Vermont, where he resided for more than 40 years, the last 20 in Charlotte.

During summers in Marion, he became an accomplished sailboat racer and learned to tinker, taking things apart and making them whole again—tractors, cars and various engines. He seemed to have every tool. He was best known for his ability to work on bikes. You knew a bike dropped off for a simple tune-up would be returned spanking clean and perhaps with one or more parts completely rebuilt.

The Shelburne Bike Club, established by Mac in the 1980s, continues to this day as the Wednesday Night Riders. Many of these cyclist joined Mac in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), riding across Iowa on a dozen different Julys. Mac’s biking trips introduced many nieces and nephews to biking, and he made life long friends along the way.

Mac will be remembered for his love of puzzles and his competitiveness playing backgammon—best played with a mai tai in hand. He looked equally at ease wearing bow ties, cycling spandex or suspenders with his Carhartts. His humor and good nature kindled many loyal friends. His strength and ability to meet his many health challenges stoically and without complaint never wavered and amazed us all.

Over the course of time, however, the wear and tear from his medical conditions presented even greater hardships. Virginia was his partner in facing the daily challenges, and they strived to live life to the fullest, doing the things they loved together. Mac always lived his life on his terms, and when his body finally ebbed, he was ready with courage to say goodbye, sharing a hint of his smile. He was a remarkable soul and will be remembered and profoundly missed by so many who were fortunate enough to know him.

Mac is survived by his wife of 24 years, Virginia Bartholomew Keyser; his mother, Helen A. Trumbull, and stepfather, Walter H. Trumbull; his sister, Leigh Keyser Phillips (Peter); his brothers, Donald A. Keyser (Anne) and Peter S. Adamson (Mary); and numerous nieces, nephews and godchildren. He was predeceased by his father and his sister, Elizabeth H. Keyser Evans.

A memorial service will be held next summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mac’s memory to his boyhood summer camp, Kieve Wavus Education, P.O. Box 169, Nobleboro, ME 04555, or to Local Motion, 1 Steele St., Suite 103, Burlington, VT 05401.