FAIRFAX — Michael Francis Cain passed away unexpectedly early New Year’s Day following a tragic accident at his home. Michael was the eldest of 10 children, born in Burlington, VT to Francis and Mary Jane Cain. Mike was proud to have been a graduate of the Rice Memorial class of ‘67. He earned his Bachelor Degree from Lyndon State College and a Master’s of Education from Southern New Hampshire University.

Michael is survived by his loving and devoted partner of 26 years, Joanne Wells, his daughters, Devon Fleming-Cain Anderson (Tom), Erin Cain (Dave Pratt), Darcey Wells (Ross Bisbee) and his grandchildren, Addison, Ben, Thomas Michael, Grace, Sidney, Paxton & Alex. He is also survived by his mother Mary Jane, his siblings and their spouses: Bill (Marilee), Carolyn (Tom) Breiner, Thomas (Clarissa), Martha (Byron), Patty (Michael) Haynes, Ted Nelson, Susan (Bill) O’Brien, Barbara (Glen) Cousins, Brian (Lilli) Cain, many beloved nieces, nephews and their spouses, as well as many great nieces and nephews. Michael was predeceased by his father Francis J. Cain and his sister Betsy Nelson.

Michael was known far and wide for his love of family, his students, in addition to numerous athletic pursuits and outdoor adventures. Michael possessed a special talent for writing and delivering poetry and prose to celebrate milestones over the years.

Retired from Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, VT, after 26 years as a Special Education Teacher, Michael was highly skilled at engaging students with emotional and physical challenges. Together, he and Joanne developed the Summit Program, which was one of the first public school programs in Vermont to meet the needs of students with emotional/behavioral challenges. Michael always focused on student strengths and abilities, versus their disabilities. He utilized his passion for the outdoors to teach life skills, personal responsibility and social skills to his students. Michael engaged collaboratively with several individuals to create outdoor education programming throughout Northern Vermont and was most proud of the Watershed Program at Missisquoi Valley Union High School.

Michael served in the role of support/case manager for several students from the Grand Isle Supervisory Union; independently he continued to advocate for students and families through Summit Educational Services, PLC which he and Joanne created in 2019.

His passion for the outdoors led to his current roles involving caretaking of the Fairfax Town Forest, St. Albans Town Forest and cross-country trails at Hard’Ack Recreation Area. Michael loved building and maintaining the trails in these areas, as well as engaging the individuals and families he met in the woods.

If you ran into Michael in the woods, you needed to have some time on your hands. He was an unapologetic promoter of community recreation areas and became known as the ‘Guardian of the Woods.’

Michael often said, “The adventure bug bit me early and often.” His adventurous spirit brought him to Alaska, where he was a fishing boat deckhand and spent time kayaking and ice climbing. He worked with Outward Bound at Hurricane Island, ME, and led mountaineering expeditions with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Nova Scotia. He had endless stories of the mountains he climbed all over the country and the waterways he paddled, holding a special fondness for Martha’s Vineyard and the Adirondacks.

Michael was looking forward to winter snow to begin practice with the Cross Country Ski at BFA. Over the years, Michael mentored and touched the hearts of many people in many different ways. He was a one-of-a-kind character, who will remain always in our hearts for the compassion, love and skills he has taught us.

Given the current state of the COVID-19 virus in Vermont, a private service will be held for immediate family only. Future celebrations of Michael’s life are being developed for his many friends, colleagues and community members and will be announced at a future date. Please visit https://remembered.com/biography/michaelcain to share photos and memories. At this time, the family asks that you gather with your families, tell stories of your remembrances of Michael and “raise a glass” in his honor. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Albans Recreation Department. Arrangements are under the care of LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service.

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