Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

19 posts categorized "In Memoriam" Feed

June 24, 2010

Knit Bombing in Burlington Promotes Suicide Awareness

Knit 1 Anyone passing by Burlington City Hall today surely noticed the art installation out front: a knit bombing, aka yarn, craft or guerrilla bombing, that bedecks the bears and deer in their respective fountains, as well as the iron railing, with bright yellow and black yarn and other fabric bits.

Juggling my umbrella and iphone, I took some pics. It is the second time this summer the city's granite pets have been so adorned.

This type of public artwork is normally considered graffiti, is frowned upon by city officials, and doesn't last long. As it happens, organizer Casey McMains, a Jericho glassblower, got permission from the Church Street Marketplace for this installation, which will remain on view through June 30.

And despite the somewhat merry appearance of a bear and deer clad in, well, anything, McMains' motivation for the display was a somber one.

Continue reading "Knit Bombing in Burlington Promotes Suicide Awareness" »

February 19, 2010

Benefit Concert Saturday in Honor of Guen Gifford

Guen Last fall, I wrote a blog post about Burlington lawyer and activist Guen Gifford (pictured) who was killed in a paragliding accident on November 1. Guen, who was only 37, was a passionate activist, as many who knew her remarked at her memorial service. From 2001-2007, she was on the board of the Peace & Justice Center, and she served for a time as board chair.

The PJC is struggling financially right now — Seven Days reported on their trials last month ("Peace and Justice Center Fights to Survive" 1/20/10). On Saturday, February 20, singer/songwriter Catie Curtis is appearing at a benefit concert for the PJC at Higher Ground. The benefit is being held in Guen's honor.

Tickets are $20 in advance, and $23 on the day of show (tomorrow). You can purchase them at PJC, or by clicking here. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.

If you want to celebrate a fearless and dynamic local activist who died way too young, this is a good way to do it.

January 12, 2010

Sandra Wright, 1948-2010

Sandra Wright According to a Twitter post by August First this morning and confirmed via a phone conversation with local vocalist Linda Bassick, local blues singer Sandra Wright passed away last night at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Wright was 61.

According to Bassick, whose husband, Dave Nerbak, is the guitarist in the Sandra Wright Band, the Memphis-born singer had long battled diabetes. In September of last year, Wright underwent double knee surgery and suffered an infection following the procedure. Bassick could not confirm that the embolism and infection were related.

Since moving to Vermont in 1992, Wright had been a fixture in the local jazz and blues scene. She was known for outsized vocal chops an ebullient stage persona to match. The singer had performed as recently as New Year's Eve.

An upcoming funeral service will be private. But Bassick says that a public celebration of the singer's life will take place this spring.

Thoughts and prayers go out to Wright's family and friends.

January 08, 2010

Vermont Artist Stephen Huneck, RIP

Vermont artist Stephen Huneck, renowned for his colorful dog art, has died.

From an article posted today on the Burlington Free Press website:

The 60-year-old St. Johnsbury artist died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Thursday, in Littleton, N.H.

His wife says he’d been despondent after being forced to lay off employees at his Dog Mountain studio and dog chapel.

We here at Seven Days were very sorry to hear the news. Back in March, videographer Eva Sollberger filmed Huneck for an episode of "Stuck in Vermont." We're reposting it here now.

In the video, Huneck explains how he became an artist after suffering a near-death experience.

"I got snowed in, and I carved this [dog] angel, and I was so high on doing it, and I felt such joy... And I just started carving like crazy. He sold all of them within a couple weeks, and I just got this big check. And I just said, 'this is it.' I'm not doing anything else... So it was an amazing ride."

November 12, 2009

Guen Gifford, 1972-2009

Guencloseup Burlington resident Guenever Gifford, 37, died in a paragliding accident in California last Sunday, November 1. Like everyone who knew her, I was shocked and saddened to hear it.

Guen was a staff attorney at Law Line of Vermont. She was a dedicated and outspoken community activist, and an athlete. She was an acquaintance of mine, but I didn't feel I knew her well enough to memorialize her here, so I'm grateful to Jen Matthews for sending her thoughtful remembrance, below.

Jen has been a community activist friend and fan of Guen since their early '20s. She's now living in Northern California. She invites others to share their memories of Guen in the comments attached to this post.

Jen would like to add that a memorial service will take place in Burlington this Saturday, November 14, at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society at the top of Church Street. All are invited to attend to celebrate Guen's life, and mourn the loss of her presence on this planet. If you are so inclined, please make donations to the Peace and Justice Center (802-863-2345) and/or to The Caroline Fund for Women in Crisis (802-862-9616) in lieu of flowers.

From Jen:

Continue reading "Guen Gifford, 1972-2009" »

September 29, 2009

Charlie's With the Angels


Vermont lost one of its most accomplished and compelling characters when Charlie Houston, 96, died on Sunday at his Ledge Road home in Burlington. A pioneer in Himalayan mountaineering, high-altitude medicine and international relations — he directed the Peace Corps in India — he was fully engaged in life until he left it. As recently as 2007, he was talking up universal health care on a Church Street soapbox.

I profiled him in a story for Seven Days about elder activists, and asked him to share a memorable fitness moment for our Health and Fitness issue in 2003.

I remember the first time he called, to invite me to lunch at his place. I arrived to find a charming old man, who was virtually blind, padding about a house filled with evidence of his adventures. With a little prompting, Houston would recount the stories himself: his near-death experience on K-2; the lab in which he experimented with human fitness at high altitudes; his efforts to launch a medical Peace Corps; his friendship with Phish keyboard player Page McConnell.

Houston never lost interest in others. At one point, he developed such a fan club of middle-aged women that it was dubbed “Charlie Angels.” Charlie’s with the real angels now.

Photo by Matthew Thorsen.

August 25, 2009

A Friend of Joe's: Larry McCrorey, 1927-2009

The local jazz community is saddened this week by the passing of saxophonist Larry McCrorey, who died at his Grand Isle home on Saturday. McCrorey was 82.

McCrorey, a physiology professor at UVM from 1966 to 1993 and ardent social activist, was a pillar of the Burlington jazz scene. Most recently, he was a fixture at Halvorson's "Friends of Joe" series, the weekly tribute to late, great Burlington sax man, Big Joe Burrell. 

In celebration of his life, Seven Days asked members of the local jazz community to share their remembrances of Larry McCrorey. This page will be updated as more submissions come in. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.

I first met Larry in 1975 or so. I had moved to VT from Chicago several years earlier, where I had played with many players with Larry's skills and background. But I was amazed and delighted to find someone like that here!

Larry was one of the most multi-dimensional people I've ever met. Furthermore, he seemed to pull off each of his multiple dimensions with complete skill and aplomb, as if that was all he did. If you met him on the bandstand (as I did) you'd never guess that he was also a Dean at UVM … and, I imagine, his colleagues at UVM must have felt the converse as well!

We played jazz together many times over the years. In fact, it was on one of Larry's gigs with the band "Just Jazz" at a now-defunct club called "Hawk's Point" that I met Big Joe Burrell, and invited him to come to sit in with our still-gelling Unknown Blues Band at Hunt's … but that's another story.

Because of our similar musical backgrounds, I immediately felt a bond with Larry. And the bond continued to grow as I got to know him better. I really loved him, and will miss his vitality and enthusiasm enormously.

Till we meet again, my friend!

Paul Asbell

Guitarist (Kilimanjaro, Unknown Blues Band)

Continue reading "A Friend of Joe's: Larry McCrorey, 1927-2009" »

August 14, 2009

Marion Leonard, 1909-2009

MarionLeonard Living 100 years is in itself an accomplishment. But living every minute of 100 years with vigor, passion, intelligence and dedication to making the world a better place is an accomplishment of a higher order. Marion Leonard's life, which ended this morning in Randolph's Gifford Hospital, was one of the latter type. She was, and remains, an inspiration.

Marion's friend Cindy Kilgore was in touch with me over the past few days to let us know Marion was in the hospital and gradually transitioning to her next journey. "Please keep that positive energy out there," she wrote three days ago, "because when she decides to fly, stardust will flitter in the air!

Though I never had the pleasure to meet her personally, I feel as if I got to know her a bit. In part that's because of her prolific letters to the editor — generally on environmental and political issues. It's also through the article former Seven Days reporter Mike Ives wrote about her last May. That was part of a piece called "Aging Audaciously," in which we profiled uniquely admirable, activist seniors in Vermont. Marion, I believe, was the oldest of that bunch, and quite likely the sassiest. After the article came out, she and Mike stayed in touch. Then a recent Middlebury College grad, Mike quickly grew fond of Marion and told us what an honor it was to have met her.

Today, Marion's son Chris sent a copy of her obituary. Borrowing from it, I'll share a few highlights of her life.

Continue reading "Marion Leonard, 1909-2009" »

January 07, 2009

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009

Peter Freyne never missed a deadline in the 13 years he worked for Seven Days. He delivered his political column, "Inside Track," every Tuesday by 4 p.m. and was never subtle about it. Shortly after emailing his article, Freyne would show up at the office to answer questions, argue, check last-minute facts and, depending on his mood, terrorize our staff. His column was the last thing we squeezed into the paper before sending it to press.

So it’s ironic — not to mention premature and terribly sad — that Peter Freyne left this Earth early on a Wednesday. After battling cancer, seizures and a strep infection that spread to his brain, he died peacefully at Fletcher Allen Health Care at 12:26 a.m. today — six hours after our weekly deadline. Did he have a hand in the timing of his final departure, knowing the news would break just after the paper went to bed? We wouldn’t put it past him to go out with a poke.

Peter-freyne Freyne, 59, came out of the bar-stool school of journalism, along with his hero, Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko. He never went to school to learn to be a political columnist, but brought his considerable and diverse life experiences to a fun and informative “Inside Track” that originated in the Vanguard Press, Burlington’s original alt weekly, in the late ’80s. Freyne was the rare reporter who could skewer a politician in print and have a drink with him two days later — until he gave up drinking. Many of his “victims” became his sources — and in some cases, friends.

Vermont journalism has been a lot less lively since he retired last June. Here's a video that Eva Sollberger made of Freyne right after that, when Seven Days readers once again named him the state's "Best Print Journalist" in our annual Daysies survey.

His passing marks the end of an era. He may have planned that, too.

Please direct media inquiries to Seven Days Co-editor Pamela Polston, 864-5684, [email protected].

Click here for downloadable press images of Peter.


UPDATE: We'll post information about a memorial service here and in the newspaper next week. Thanks for all of your messages.

Continue reading "Peter Freyne, 1949-2009" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684