Potash Hill

In Memoriam

Edmund Brelsford
“Edmund once told me about his being a water skier in the Everglades in his youth,” said longtime trustee and former math teacher Ted Wendell. “He was on the upper level of one of those two-tiered lines of water skiers, when he was flipped off and broke his neck. He was always pushing the limits his body would take. That is my enduring memory of Edmund—flashing through life with style, energy and excellence.”

On September 11, retired language professor Edmund Brelsford took his last breaths in the fresh air of the White Mountains, having just ridden his bicycle up Bear Notch Pass. He was 80 years old.

“Edmund’s classes were some of my favorite times at Marlboro,” said Liz Korona ’09. “It is a (small) comfort to know that he was with family and enjoying the outdoors in his final moments.”

Born in Miami, Edmund received his bachelor’s degree in Spanish at the University of Miami. But it was his minor in French that got him a French government scholarship to study at the Sorbonne in Paris. His graduate work also took him to Madrid, Mexico, Grenoble, Havana and Siena. He received his master’s from Middlebury College in 1960, the same time as Veronica Alewyn, whom he would marry within a year.

In 1964, Edmund and Veronica began their decades-long career teaching languages and literature at Marlboro College, both retiring in 2005. Fluent in French, Spanish, Russian and Italian, Edmund’s appetite for languages seemed boundless. He embraced the opportunity to explore “less frequently taught” languages with any student who was truly committed to learning. Edmund combined innovative and conventional teaching techniques, and had a particular fondness for incorporating acting, music, dance and film into the classroom in an unending effort to convey the appropriate cultural gesture.

“I’ll always remember his French classes and how he made learning the language fun and interesting,” said Pamela Witte Nye ’93. “I don’t think I ever saw him without a smile on his face.”

“Edmund understood the concept of doing things well,” Ted continued, “getting accents right, getting costumes and instruments right, getting the focus of an event right. But ever present was that countenance—his broad smile, his twinkling eyes—a countenance that could also communicate the serious things that needed to be dealt with.”

An accomplished musician and singer, Edmund performed Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music on period instruments. In 1967 he formed the Marlboro Recorder Workshop, which celebrated its 44th year last April with an 80th birthday concert for Edmund. Over the years, he provided music for the college’s theater productions, occasionally stepping on the stage himself, most notably as the Fool in King Lear. He was also a dancer, performing with the Coincidance troupe and dancing Oberon in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As if that was not enough, Edmund was an accomplished cross-country skier and cyclist, and over the years landed several medals for competitions in his age group, including the venerable annual Wendell-Judd Cup.

“I wanted to be able to ski like Edmund,” said former chemistry professor John Hayes. “I never reached his balletic skills, but for about a dozen years Edmund and I competed against each other pretty seriously in the Wendell Cup. I didn’t care where I placed, as long as I beat Edmund. We were pretty evenly matched. All those hours out there on the trails with Edmund, on skis and off, were just damn good fun.”

Edmund was a lifelong learner, a true Renaissance man, equally at home rebuilding the carburetor on his 1954 tractor and debating the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. He relished it all and heartened many with his intellect, enthusiasm and wit.

“His music, his playfulness and his love of language will be sorely missed,” said Elisa Salas ’99. “May his purity of spirit live on in all the students he’s touched.” Edmund is survived by his wife, Veronica, children Allegra ’83, Oliver ’86, Carlotta, Cecilia ’92 and Alicia ’93, and grandchildren.

Maureen Hoey Taylor
Maureen Taylor, wife of the long-time, late trustee Richard T. Taylor, died on October 24 in Sarasota, Florida. Born in Limerick, Ireland, Maureen studied in Paris before meeting Dick when they were both working in intelligence services in 1945; they married in 1946. Maureen studied at Columbia, earning a B.S. in history, followed by a degree at the New York School of Interior Design. She served as a trustee of Family Dynamics and the Museum of American Folk Art and was a member of the Cosmopolitan Club and the National Board of Young Audiences, Inc. Maureen enjoyed the arts, ballet, interior design, writing, music, horses and travel. She was especially fond of the many hummingbirds and chipmunks that would visit the patio of their home in East Dover, Vermont. Maureen and Dick gave their Vermont home to the college in 2001 in a retained life estate and were generous investors in the college’s pooled income fund.

Harry Mecaslin ’62
Harry “Mac” Mecaslin III died in June 2010. Born and raised in Maryland, he studied forestry and science at Marlboro with Halsey Hicks, Buck Turner and Olive MacArthur. Harry was president of Electric Tool and Machine Company in Baltimore. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Norman Rogers, former student
Norm Rogers died at his home in Brattleboro in July 2011 at the age of 68. Born in Ottawa, Canada, Norm grew up in Brattleboro and graduated from High Mowing School. He studied at St. Lawrence University, Marlboro (class of 1967) and the Arts Students League in New York City. He served in the Merchant Marines and spent time fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Georges Bank. Norm had an extensive musical career: his band, Quill, was the first band to play at Woodstock in 1969. As a string bass player and vocalist, his career included playing with Arwen Mountain Band, the Filthy Rich, Jeff Potter and the Rhythm Agents and the Bill Strecker Band. For the past 20 years, he was a musician with Andy Avery of Normandy. He was also a singer in the Blanche Moyse Chorale, in Brattleboro, and most recently he enjoyed playing with the Windham Orchestra. Norm is survived by his wife, a son, two stepchildren and his sister.

Bruce Bedford, former student
Bruce Bedford, 65, a photographer for newspapers in Carroll County, New Hampshire, for nearly 40 years, died in September 2011. While at Marlboro (class of 1970), Bruce studied anthropology and theater, going on to participate in the Barnstormers Theater in Tamworth. Bruce was a photographer for the Carroll County Independent through the 1990s, and then worked for the Conway Daily Sun until 2005. A recipient of many news photography awards, including New England Press Association Photographer of the Year, he is survived by a sister and half-brother.

Gavin Benson, former student
Gavin Benson of Londonderry, New Hampshire, died of cancer at the age of 53 in August 2011. Gavin attended Marlboro (class of 1981) and received a B.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master’s of education degree in instructional technology from Boston University. He was employed as a senior project manager for online virtual labs used in high school science curriculums at School Specialty in Nashua, New Hampshire, at the time of his death. Gavin was a member of New Hampshire’s U.S. Masters swim team and an avid sailor. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, his father and three siblings.

Angel (Linda) Dowdell Hieronymus, former student
Angel Hieronymus passed away in July 2011, at the age of 62, at her home in Denver, Colorado. She attended Marlboro in the mid-80s (class of 1988), studying performance art, music and writing. She graduated from Hampshire College and received a master’s in performance art from Naropa University, where she remained after graduating to teach and apprentice with Allen Ginsberg in the performance arts and poetry department. A published poet, Angel was also a photographer, painter and ceramicist. At the time of her death, she worked in public transportation for the Denver metro area. She is survived by her mother, a brother and sister, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Joann H. Nichols, former staff
Joann Nichols, 80, of Brattleboro, died in May 2011, following a brief illness. She worked in the admissions office and as secretary to the president at Marlboro from the early 1970s through the early 1980s, and is remembered with great fondness and respect by those who worked with her. Tim Little ’65, former dean of admissions, remarked that nothing could faze her, including his children adorning themselves with zip code–ordered mailing labels. Joann joined Centre Congregational Church in 1955 and served for the next 56 years as church school teacher, clerk, historian and a member of deacons, Christian education and member care. Joann was also a member of many genealogical and historical societies and was a charter member of the Genealogical Society of Vermont, where she served as president for nearly 20 years. She published the genealogy of Giles Roberts of Scarborough, Maine, and compiled the Index to Known Cemetery Listings in Vermont, third edition, which was published in 1995 by the Vermont Historical Society. She is survived by two brothers and many nieces and nephews, and was predeceased by her husband. Marlboro is grateful to have received a bequest from Joann’s estate.