Ed Amidon — ‘a fabulous life’

Ed Amidon died the day after Christmas. Members of his family said it was his time and that he had lived a good life.

That sounds like a world-class understatement.

His widow, selectboard member Louise McCarren, said one of the things that connected them was a love of adventure.

Courtesy photo.
Ed Amidon and granddaughter Marley Amidon having a ball.

“We just both loved doing the crazy stuff,” McCarren said in a phone call.

She admitted that although she loved doing most of the “crazy stuff” Amidon wanted to do, sometimes her husband, a former state representative from Charlotte, went on adventures that were even too crazy for her.

One of those was trip he took a few years ago to Tristan da Cunha, one of a group of volcanic islands in the South Atlantic considered the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world.

It was a refueling stop between Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Cape Town, South Africa. The only way to get there was by research vessel. A six-day trip.

“It’s halfway between nowhere and nowhere,” McCarren said. “It’s an island with no helicopters. No airports. No nothing.”

So, when her husband, alone on this faraway island he’d always dreamed of traveling to, began to have shortness of breath, she didn’t have any advice for him.

He went to the clinic, since that was all there was. Doctors there thought he might be having a heart attack. They gave him something to take.

Ed Amidon began to feel better, so he stayed on for a bit longer, then caught the six-day research vessel back to Cape Town.

When he got to the United States, the doctor told him, “You don’t have a heart problem; you threw a clot in your lung.”

McClarren said the weirdest trip she didn’t go on was a trip Ed took with their adult son William Amidon to Abbottabad, Pakistan. That is the town where Osama Bin Laden was caught.

William Amidon has wonderful memories of a three-week expedition they took on the Coppermine River in the Northwest Territories, a 300-mile paddling trip that ended in the Artic Ocean.

“That was exciting for me when I was 13,” he said. “It was neat that they shared this passion.”

His father was a paddler in the early days of the sport, in the 1970s, when pretty much the only canoes for whitewater were aluminum. They paddled in blue jeans and didn’t have flotation for their boats.

In those conditions, Ed Amidon had early descents of some infamous rivers and was one of the first members of the fledgling Northern Vermont Canoe Cruisers, which is now known as the Vermont Paddlers Club.

McClarren and her husband were both lawyers and both lived in Charlotte but didn’t know each other. More than four decades ago, they ended up sitting next to each other at the Chittenden County Courthouse and began talking.

One thing and another and it’s been a lifetime of adventures.

“You know, we did 30-35 major wilderness rivers,” McCarren said. “He lived a pretty fabulous life.”