Sept. 29, 2011
HELENA ANDERSON BLAIR
Helena Anderson Blair, 89, died peacefully on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Fletcher Allen Health Care surrounded in spirit and person by her loving family. She has left us with a profound sense of love and her presence here will never leave the hearts of those she touched. She was born in West Glover in 1921, to Ellen Josephine Comer and Fern Augustine Anderson. Raised on a hilltop farm at a time of horse drawn wagons and without electricity or plumbing, she began her trek in life. She attended school in West Glover, graduated high school from Craftsbury Academy in 1939 and the University of Vermont in 1943. At UVM, Helena was involved with many student groups and organizations and was president of the Newman Club. She was a member of the Women’s Honorary Society, known as Mortar Board, comprised of women who were recognized for outstanding service, scholarship, leadership, character and executive ability. She helped recruit Eleanor Roosevelt to speak at UVM and was inducted into “Who’s Who” among students in American universities and colleges. After graduation, Helena became a teacher and taught chemistry, biology and home economics at Hartford High School in White River Junction. After marriage, she taught children in the same one-room grade school she attended as a child, the Beach School in West Glover. Little did she know at that time that with the birth of her eight children she would have a one-room classroom of her own! In 1945 she married Paul Emile Blair, a farmer, and together they owned farms in W. Glover, Panton and Williston at Taft’s Corner. This is where they settled to raise their children, to teach them the value of hard work, and the importance of religion with Catechism every Saturday. As a family, they attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Williston. In 1960, a devastating barn fire occurred. This catastrophe was extremely difficult to recover from. Since Paul and Helena both loved dairy farming and the farm family life for their children, they built a new loose-housing barn, and started anew. They became active members of the National Farmers Organization, whose goal was to bring fair pricing to all farmers. To help with the effort, they would pick up the calves and beef from local NFO farmers, transport them to a holding area at their farm, where they would subsequently be sold to the buyer with the highest bid. In addition, Helena became co-editor of the Vermont NFO News. She was a woman of action! Years later, in 1978, Paul and Helena stopped farming and auctioned the equipment and herd. Soon thereafter, Helena was the driving force in the land development of the family farm. She attended countless local and state planning meetings to acquire the permits so the lots could be sold. The project came to be called Blair Park, the first major commercial development in Williston. It was during those years that Helena also became a landlady and enjoyed the work right up until her death. She worked tirelessly with joy as she felt fortunate to be able to provide folks a very nice and clean place to live — one that she herself would live in. One of her favorite mottos was, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show another human being, let me do it now and not defer it. For I shall not pass this way again.” The same perseverance and indomitable character that propelled her though life as a teacher, wife, mother, dairy farmer, landlady, political activist, Blair Park developer, and human rights activist led to her involvement in the passage of Vermont’s historical Civil Union legislation. Beginning in the 1970s, Helena was a grass roots advocate of gay and lesbian rights. She mailed several letters to state legislators urging them to support the first of its kind, the proposed civil union law. Sen. James Leddy chose one of them and read it on the Senate floor, which then became a news item that spread all across the country. It had an historical, emotional and political impact and led to the passage of H.847, Vermont’s Civil Union Law. Within this same pursuit, she worked with Vermont Freedom to Marry. Helena is survived by her children, Francis, Ronald and wife, Janet, Carol, Rose and husband, Daniel, Mark, Lawrence, Michael and wife, Kathy; seven grandchildren, Scott, Lisa, Dalys, Becky, Meghan, Matthew, and Christy; five great-grandchildren, Alex and Ellie, Tyler, Benjamin, and Marina; brothers, Bill, Kenneth, and John; sister, Lenore; and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Paul; daughter, Corena; brothers, Irvin and Dean; sister, Ardell; and nephew, Stephen. Helena was someone that many could identify with, always with a quiet strength, generous heart and dignity. She will always be remembered as being kind to the core, wise, generous, devoted to her beliefs and children, and with relentless humility and modesty. Visiting hours were Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the LaVigne Funeral Home, 132 Main St. in Winooski. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, at 11 a.m. at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Winooski. Interment followed at East End Cemetery in Williston, the second cemetery on the left. Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to Helena’s propitious church, Saint Francis Xavier Church, 3 St. Peter Street, Winooski, Vt. 05404, (802) 655-2290; Committee on Temporary Shelter, 179 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington, Vt. 05401, (802) 540-3084; Gay and Lesbian Advocacy Defenders, 30 Winter St., Boston, MA 02108, (617) 426-1350; or to a charity of one’s choice. In lieu of flowers, Helena would want you to buy flowers for a friend, fill out an organ donor card, or simply do a good deed for someone. So very many caring people have helped our Mother with her health challenges over the years. At the end of her life, special loving care was provided by Palliative Care at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
BEATRICE A. “MIMI” PROVOST
Beatrice A. “Mimi” Provost, 86, of Williston, died peacefully Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, at home with family by her side. She was born in Burlington on May 30, 1925, the daughter of Lucien and Ella (Belair) Boisvert. Beatrice graduated from Burlington High School, class of 1942. On Apr. 22, 1946, she married Daniel “Duke” Provost in St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. Duke predeceased her on Jan. 17, 2003. She was a lifetime member of St. Anthony’s Parish and was an active member of Catholic Daughters of America. Mimi is survived by her children, Jean Provost of Williston, Bob Provost of South Burlington, Michael and Carrie Provost of South Burlington, Dave and Debbi Provost of Williston, Shirley and James Beecher of Milton, Judy Barron of Richmond, John and Lisa Provost of Essex Junction, Jim and Vicki Provost of Williston and Gary and Diane Provost of South Burlington; 20 grandchildren, Lara, Anna, Lynsey, Aimee, Daniel, Miranda, Katie, Adam, Nicole, Jennifer, Jessica, Jason, Emilee, Shaun, Eric, Timothy, Rebecca, Tyler, Christopher and Kyle; nine great-grandchildren, Kierstin, Brady, Charlie, Cameron, Jacob, Caleb, Mia, Montgomery and Cooper; one brother, Roland (Charlene) Boisvert of Barre, two sisters-in-law, Marion (William) Blanchette and Marie Boisvert and many nieces and nephews. She was also predeceased by two brothers and two sisters. Mimi’s family would like to give special thanks to Dr. Zail Berry and the PACE Staff, Dr. Joseph Haddock and Nurse Margaret Pratt. An exceptional thank you to Jean Provost, who gave up her own daily life to give our mother the best final days of her life. We are forever indebted and grateful to you. Visiting hours were held on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in the Ready Funeral Home, South Chapel, 261 Shelburne Road, Burlington. For those who wish, donations in her memory may be made to the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, PO Box 820, Lebanon, N.H. 03766-0800. A mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, at 10 a.m. in St. Anthony Catholic Church and burial followed in Resurrection Park Cemetery, South Burlington. To send online condolences to her family, please visit www.readyfuneral.com.