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Remembering those we loved and lost in 2023

 The sun shines through a cloudy sky on a peaklet in the distance. The mountains are covered in conifers and the view is from a summit looking down at other mountains.
Abagael Giles
Vermont Public
The view south from Mt. Abraham in Addison County. Some 'Vermont Edition' callers shared stories of their loved ones' fondness for the Vermont landscape.

Many of us lost someone important to us in the past year. Perhaps it was a friend, family member, or even an acquaintance who impacted your life in a lasting way. Some of these goodbye followed a long illness, while others came suddenly, without any warning at all.

As 2023 comes to a close, we shared stories of loved ones who passed away in the past year. Ashley Squier spoke about her father, the legendary broadcaster and Thunder Road founder Ken Squier. Anisa Mohamed called to tell us about her husband, Ahmed Omar, from the kitchen of their family restaurant, Kismayo Kitchen. Jonathan Huener told us stories about his former University of Vermont colleague and friend, Frank Nicosia. And Harry Bliss shared memories of fellow New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren. We also rebroadcast Vermont Public's remembrances of Michael Pfaff, Louise Glück and Peter Miller.

The conversation struck a chord -- people from across the region called and emailed with remembrances of their own. Here is a selection of what we heard, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Catherine in Bristol: I would like to recognize three musicians who passed this year: Jim McGuiness, Bruce MacKenzie, Mark Ransom. I was lucky to live in Burlington and work at Hunts Club and hear these talented musicians perform. They are missed dearly by friends and family.

Leslie: I grew up surrounded by New Yorker magazines. I have long admired the work of Ed Koren. A few years ago, I was bartending for a private party, and he was a guest. He asked for a glass of wine. I admitted to him I was a fan, and his face lit up. Two glasses later, he was still at the bar talking to me. He was enchanting. He asked me for a piece of paper, and proceeded to draw me a personal cartoon with one of his furry creatures holding a tray with wine. He signed it "to my friend, Leslie". It's one of my favorite things. Kind, funny, twinkly Ed.

Ruth in Cornwall: I wasn't going to write in, but then remembered what a devoted Vermont Public (Radio) fan and supporter my grandmother, Nora White Shattuck, was. She grew up in Ottawa adventuring and riding her beloved pony. At 16, she took the train to NYC and joined the NYC Ballet and then eventually the Ballet Russes De Monte-Carlo! And then so many more adventures.

Megan: The State of Vermont lost one of its cherished treasures when photographer and writer, Peter Miller, passed away in April. ... The gruff exterior of Peter masked a caring, fascinating, clever, hardworking, passionate person. ... I miss him both as a good friend and a man who recorded so much about Vermont’s people and her stories. His legacy of photographs and books and writings will live on. For that, we are grateful.

Celia in Burlington: My big brother, Tom Cuddy, died on Mothers' Day. He was a phenomenal guitar player, and could play classical, punk, bluegrass, rock and country with equal skill and imagination. He was part of the Burlington music scene in the 1980s and early 1990s. ... He moved to Austin, Texas in the mid-1990s with his wife, best friend and musical partner, Lene, and became part of a vibrant and loving community. ... Tommy truly lived a life of generosity, imagination, kindness, creativity, activism, curiosity and love. He was the smartest person I've ever known, and had the biggest heart. It's my great blessing to be his little sister, and I miss him every day.

Ashley in New Haven: We lost our beautiful matriarch in October, Raymonde Bessette, at age 91. She passed peacefully at home with the giant family she created surrounding her. It’s been my pleasure for the last decade to live above her and help care for her and Papa. ... She taught me to garden, to prune tomatoes and how to sew a quilt. ... I’m going to miss the 8 pm call to fix her “hi pad” and tucking her into bed. Today as I drove down Plank Road, a rainbow shown over the farm and I know her and Papa are together looking down upon us.

Joannie: We lost Joan Robinson this past June. Joan was a vibrant, creative, caring person, a truly unique human being. She was an inspiring educator of young and old, in the classroom, library, and onstage. She was a loving spouse and sibling, a wonderful friend. Joan had a twinkle in her eye, a bellow in her laugh, a passion for life. She made the world a better place. She is missed.

Beverley: I would like to honor my husband, Stuart Thurber, Jr. Thirty-five years ago he was appointed to serve on the first Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. As a dairy farmer he had a passion for preserving land for agricultural use. He died August 27, 2023 on Lilac Ridge Farm, his home for eight-five (85) years.

Broadcast at noon Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Andrea Laurion joined Vermont Public as a news producer for Vermont Edition in December 2022. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Before getting into audio, Andrea worked as an obituary writer, a lunch lady, a wedding photographer assistant, a children’s birthday party hostess, a haunted house actor, and an admin assistant many times over.