Thomas O. Kenyon died peacefully Monday morning, Oct. 31, 2022, at the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care in Lebanon, after recently suffering a catastrophic stroke at home.
He was 76.
Tom was born July 9, 1946, the second youngest of Gerald and Orytha (Dunn) Kenyon’s four children.
He was a 1964 Windsor High School graduate. After finishing college, Tom took a job with General Electric in Burlington.
Figuring he needed a car that could get him home on weekends in the least amount of time, Tom purchased a new 1968 Pontiac GTO – America’s original muscle car – just as Vermont’s interstate highway system was opening.
When asked if the speedometer ever reached triple digits with him behind the wheel, Tom just grinned. “Maybe,” he’d say.
Later, Tom enlisted in the Navy, serving six years as a nuclear submariner. When he wasn’t underwater, Tom was stationed in Hawaii and Spain.
After completing his Navy duty, which he thoroughly enjoyed, Tom returned to Brownsville. Dartmouth College hired him to manage its physics and astronomy department to oversee, among other things, the monitoring and reporting of data to the National Weather Service.
“We owe a lot of gratitude to staff member Tom Kenyon who recently retired after a quarter century of service,” Physics and Astronomy Chair James LaBelle said in a 2015 Dartmouth news release. “His dedication and personal interest in weather kept it going for that time.”
Generally speaking, folks fall into two categories: Talkers and doers.
Tom was both.
A George Aiken-style Republican, Tom could – and did – chat about state and local politics with anyone, anywhere. He served a lengthy stint as vice chairman of the Windsor County Republican Committee.
In 2010, then-Gov. Jim Douglas appointed Tom to the governing board of the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington.
Throughout the years, Tom focused much of his public service on his hometown. He was elected multiple times to the West Windsor Selectboard and represented the town on the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission. He served on the board of trustees for the town’s library and historical society, along with the Brownsville Community Church. He was also a longtime member of the West Windsor Volunteer Fire Department.
He wrote a weekly column for the Vermont Standard, keeping readers informed about local government, nonprofit organizations and whatever else caught his attention in West Windsor.
He was an active member of American Legion Post 25 in Windsor and treasurer of the nonprofit Windsor Coon Club, taking great pleasure in helping out with the annual kids’ fishing derby.
A lifelong trout angler and deer hunting enthusiast, Tom and older brother Jim purchased and fixed up a camp in West Fairlee in the 1990s. Tom earned permanent camp bragging rights when he bagged a 208-pound eight-pointer in 2010.
One thing Tom didn’t brag about was his charity work behind the scenes. If winter was approaching and word of a needy family short on firewood reached Tom, he’d arrange for a cord or two to get dropped off without the recipients knowing who was behind the good deed.
Although his only connection to West Fairlee was the hunting camp on Bear Notch Road, Tom sent an annual check to the town’s food shelf that covered a sizable portion of the nonprofit’s grocery bill. He never mentioned it to his family, which only found out through the food shelf’s thankful director.
Tom was predeceased by his brothers Roger, in 2020, and Jim, who passed away in January. He is survived by his sister, Eleanor, of Claremont; sister-in-law, Pat, of Brownsville, sister-in-law, Linda, of Universal City, Texas, along with several nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind Missy IV, his miniature black poodle who is moving just up the hill on Seems Road.
His family thanks the nurses and doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, especially the staff at the Jack Byrne Center, who made sure Tom’s final days were peaceful and respectful of his wishes. A special thanks to the Rev. Christian Huebner, who within hours of Tom’s hospitalization made a late-night trip to DHMC to be with Tom and family members.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Mary L. Blood Memorial Library, West Windsor Historical Society or Brownsville Community Church.
Knight Funeral Home of Windsor is entrusted with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed in an online guestbook found at www.knightfuneralhomes.com.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, December 10, at 11 a.m. at Brownsville Community Church. Burial in the Brownsville Cemetery will take place in the spring.