Madeleine Mason Shesta
STOWE/MIDDLEBURY — Madeleine Mason Shesta, 83, died Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008, at Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Middlebury. She was born Madeleine Louise Mason, daughter of Ralph and Bertha Mason, on July 30, 1924, in Hawthorne, Calif.
She grew up in southern California, moving east in the late 1940s. She and her second husband, John Shesta, moved to Vermont in 1960.
A longtime resident of the Stowe area, she was known for her gardens, cooking and exotic pets. She raised and maintained extensive herb, flower and vegetable gardens at their homes first on the Elmore Mountain Road and later in Mud City. According to family, she was especially fond of the primroses raised in Mud City.
She and her husband owned and operated Deer Cross Inn in the mid-1960s in Stowe, where they served upscale French cuisine in a dining room overlooking a field where deer came to graze in the evening, to the delight of diners.
She is survived by her brother, Stanley Mason and his wife Kay of Long Beach, Calif.; her two children, Sylvia Reed of Medway, Mass., and Richard Reed and his wife Carol of Leicester; and four grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her husband, John Shesta.
A memorial service will be scheduled for this spring at a date and time to be announced.
Helen West Burbank
LEICESTER/MIDDLEBURY — Helen West Burbank, 88, of Leicester and Middlebury, died Jan. 29, 2008, at the Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington after suffering a massive stroke last week. Helen was the much-loved wife of Jack Burbank and mother to four children and grandmother of seven grandchildren. Helen Lee West was born on Dec. 21, 1919, in Needham Mass.
She grew up in Trenton, N.J., where her father was president of the Trenton State Teachers College. She came to Middlebury to go to college and graduated from Middlebury College in 1941. She married Jack Burbank, M.D., in 1943. They lived in Hartford, Conn.; Deerfield, N.H.; Yellow Springs, Ohio; and Middletown, Conn.; and retired to Leicester in 1990.
Helen was a loving and supporting wife, a caring and guiding mother, an excellent athlete, a community participant and supporter, a great believer in the value of education, libraries, books, and learning, and an active citizen of our world. She welcomed into our home visitors from different states and countries, and friends from far and wide.
She was generous, spunky, and interested in everything and everyone around her. She was an inspiration and role model for the next generations of girls and boys who came to know her.
Helen worked at Colt Firearms during World War II. While raising her children, Helen also was active in many community efforts and clubs, including the Thursday Morning Club in Meriden, Conn,, which met on Wednesday afternoons.
She was president of the Meriden Connecticut College Club, an affiliate of the American Association of University Women. She was also a state officer of the Connecticut AAUW.
In the early 1970s Helen went back to college and gained a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College. She put this learning to work, as a volunteer librarian at the Whiting Forensic Institute of the Connecticut Valley Hospital, a state mental hospital for people with psychiatric disabilities who are a serious danger to themselves or others.
Helen was a lifelong athlete, participant, and enthusiast in tennis, skiing, backpacking, hiking, and swimming. In fact, she was adept at almost all sports. Throw a ball at her and she would catch it and throw it back!
In her sixties Helen and her tennis doubles partner, Ilka Krochmal, won their club championships for doubles. In her seventies she could still win sets with people generations younger than she. In her eighties she couldn’t move on the court, but she would still outfox you! She played her last tennis just seven months ago, with bad arms and bad legs, and she could still serve into the corners.
Helen was a skiing pioneer, skiing on Chipman Hill in Middlebury and at what is now the Middlebury Snow Bowl before there were lifts. She was an avid cross-country skier before most of us knew what cross-country skiing was. In her twenties, she bicycled long distances on a one-speed iron-framed bicycle around the Middlebury area and in Connecticut.
She backpacked with our family in California, Wyoming, Washington state, Oregon, and Europe. She skied for many years in the Swiss and Austrian Alps and all over the United States.
She hiked in the Green and White Mountains, and the Adirondacks. She canoed in Minnesota, Ontario, Quebec, and Adirondack park. Most of all, she instilled a love of sport in her children and grandchildren.
In their seventies, Helen and her husband Jack moved to Leicester where they had built a house on Lake Dunmore. Every summer morning, and into the fall, Helen would begin her day with a hike down to the lake and a swim. She loved swimming, the colder the water the better. She swam in the frigid waters of Puget Sound, and took a dip in a frozen stream in Rochester one New Year’s Day!
Helen had a wide and deep community of friends in Middletown and Meriden, Conn., and in Middlebury and Leicester, both from her years at Middlebury College and her retirement years in Vermont. After moving to Vermont, she became active in the Middlebury AAUW, and Friends of the Ilsley Library.
You could occasionally catch a glimpse of her at the Middlebury Unitarian Church. She volunteered for the position of treasurer of the Mountain View Club on Lake Dunmore, and spent many hours and days figuring out the books!
Helen was a loyal supporter of Middlebury College. She was the long-time, persistent, and very effective class agent for her Middlebury College class of 1941, always figuring out how to cajole her classmates into giving to the college. If there was an interesting cultural event at Middlebury College, most likely Helen was there.
Helen had high expectations for her children and grandchildren to be good citizens, intellectually creative and productive professionals, with each child and grandchild adding to the bonds and love of our family. Her quiet and not-so-quiet overseeing of her children’s education created the foundation for their successes in life, and those of her grandchildren.
Most of all, she was Jack Burbank’s wife, partner and helpmate for almost 65 years. She will be deeply missed.
Survivors, in addition to her husband Jack, include a sister and two brothers; daughters, Jane Burbank of New York City, and Priscilla Burbank-Schmitt of Brookline Mass.; sons, Doug Burbank of Santa Barbara, Calif., and John (Spider) Burbank of Seattle, Wash.; and their spouses, six granddaughters and one grandson.
Helen was predeceased by her parents, Roscoe and Edith Richardson West of Trenton, N.J.
The family will have a private celebration of Helen’s life on February 2. In May we will have a public celebration and memorial for Helen.
Contributions in honor of Helen can be made to the Middlebury Class of 1941 Fund, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753.