ST. ALBANS — Shirley Chapin Montgomery died peacefully in her sleep on July 14, 2015, at the Franklin County Rehab Center. She died of natural causes at 102 happy years of age. Born in Brattleboro, the eldest child of Winifred (Willard) and Stuart Chapin, she lived in Vermont all her life.
Trained as a teacher at UVM, she taught one year in Vernon, and then went to Swanton, where her first class numbered 60 first-graders, all there with their mothers on day one. In Swanton, she met, fell in love with, and married Harold “Monte” Montgomery who predeceased her as did her parents, her sister, Jeanette “Tad” Kelley, of St. Albans and her brother, Robert Chapin of Wilmington, Del.
She taught in Swanton until she and Monte moved to St. Albans, where she continued to teach as a long-term substitute in the St. Albans Elementary Schools.
She leaves two children, Bruce (Linda) of Georgia, Vt., and Gail of Greenwich, Conn.; her grandchildren Christine (Bruce) Couture of Caldwell, Idaho, and John of Georgia, Vt.; three great-grandchildren, Kyle, Megan, and Danielle Couture; and many nieces and nephews. She loved them all and they loved her.
She was an inspired creative teacher who made such an impact that years later former students would tell her that she had been their favorite. She believed in the power of words and spent many happy hours reading Winnie the Pooh to her classes and her children. She was still reciting the poems when she passed away.
Generous and unassuming, she participated in many aspects of community life including the King’s Daughters Home, Warner Home for Little Wanderers, where she served on the Board, the Historical Society, the Garden Club, the Autonoe Club, and the Vermont Doll Club. An enthusiastic bridge player and an avid collector of dolls, she also owned a magical dollhouse that she enjoyed showing off to visitors while sharing her encyclopedic knowledge.
Gentle, strong, and a good listener, she lived a life of fulfillment, love, and kindness. The family wishes especially to recognize her “Guardian Angels”; Earl and Jean Greenia, who loved and watched over her faithfully for more than fifty years, enabling her to live alone in her home until her 100th birthday; her neighbors, Thayer Robtoy and Linda Lang, her “Adopted Granddaughters”, who saw to her comfort lovingly and brought color, flowers, and humor to her life; and Louise Chase, a good friend who helped her for many years.
Shirley loved her family, her friends, her summers on Hathaway Point, and her dolls, as well as art, music, books, crossword puzzles, and travel. With friends of all ages her glass was always more than half-full. She was a very special lady.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend calling hours on Thursday, July 23, 2015, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Heald Funeral Home, 87 South Main St., St. Albans.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, July 24 at 11 a.m. in the Heald Chapel. Interment will follow at the family lot in the St. Albans Bay Cemetery.
Anyone wishing to may send donations in her name to Franklin County Home Health, 3 Home Health Circle, St. Albans, VT 05478 or Franklin County Rehab Center, 110 Fairfax Road, St. Albans, VT 05478, whose staffs cared for her with affection and sensitivity in her last years.
Contributions may also be made to the St. Albans Historical Society, P.O. Box 722, St. Albans, VT 05478. Messages of condolence and memories are welcome at www.healdfuneralhome.com.