Mom’s obituary


This is the text of the obit that appeared with slight edits in the Times Argus and Caledonian Record:

Joan Marie Brunelle Dawley, 76, died Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.

She was born May 25, 1932, in Montpelier, VT, the daughter of Edward Brunelle and Dorothy (Dunton) Brunelle.

She married George Siekierski in 1951. They lived in Montpelier, VT; New Haven, CT; and West Springfield, MA and had a son, Keith. They divorced in 1962 after a period of separation.

For several years she was a reporter for the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus, writing human interest stories. There she met Lee Dawley, originally of Gowanda, NY; they married in 1963. After their move to S. Ryegate in 1964, she worked at the Caledonian Record in St. Johnsbury and the Orange County Council of Social Agencies. Lee was stricken with multiple sclerosis in the late 1970s, and as his condition worsened she spent more time tending to him. From 1985-2004, caring for him was her sole occupation.

Always an advocate of higher education, she was late to attend college herself. She studied at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT from 1976-1980, first focusing on the visual arts before pursuing a B.A. in Philosophy. She went on to a four-year graduate program at the State University of New York at Albany; she received her Masters in Philosophy in 1990. Studies in linguistics also led her to summer programs at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH and Kossuth Lajos Tudományegyetem in Debrecen, Hungary. Her engagement with ideas was lifelong, and she continued to read in history, philosophy, and neuroscience until her final hospitalization.

She was predeceased by husband Lee Dawley, son Keith Siekierski, brother Philip Brunelle, and sister Kathleen Haggett. She is survived by brother Robert Brunelle (and wife Jackie) of S. Barre, VT; two daughters, Andrea Sharp (and husband Steve) of Essex Junction, VT and Janice Dawley of Burlington, VT; and son Hugh Dawley of Burlington, VT as well as several nieces and grandchildren.

A memorial ceremony will be held at 1:00 PM in the Fellowship Hall of the S. Ryegate Presbyterian Church on May 25, 2009. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the American Heart Association or the American Civil Liberties Union.


The Times Argus created a guest book that anyone is free to sign. I was surprised to see that my mother’s childhood friend Claire Buley signed it soon after it appeared, even though they hadn’t been in touch in decades. That tells me that out of sight is not out of mind for a lot of people, and that each of us leaves an impression on the world as we pass through it. You are not forgotten, Mutti.

About the author

Janice Dawley

Outdoorsy TV addict, artistic computer geek, loner who loves people.

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By Janice Dawley


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