It is with heavy hearts that the family of Sherry Jo (Byron) Calkins announce the physical departure of their loved one due to complications from cancer on January 28, 2019. She passed with incredible grace, courage and dignity from her Hartland, VT home of 44 years.
Sherry Calkins was born in St. Johnsbury, VT on December 22, 1946, to Howard and Freda (Champny) Byron. She grew up in the rural farming community of North Danville, VT, where she attended elementary school and met her husband of 50 years in the 6th grade. Sherry loved horses, played basketball, sang in the Glee Club, played trombone in the Danville High School marching band, was active in 4-H and attended Vermont Girls State. She majored in History and English at the University of Vermont graduating in 1968. Much of her travel outside Vermont was with her husband as he finished engineering degrees and research projects at the University of Maine, University of New Brunswick, University of Iowa and US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA.
She hosted many bridal showers and was especially known for her signature “White Trash Wedding Cake,” a towering tribute to Rice Crispy treats with glistening frosting and seasonal berries. She was famous among her ‘inner kid circle’ for fancy breakfasts, hot fudge sundae parties and exotic drinks with fruit and umbrellas. Of French-Canadian heritage, baking was in her blood. Rarely did anything burn (only this year) when her ‘melting moments’ met a molten demise. She was miffed! Sherry was a master baker and her creations could have filled a patisserie window in Paris. The almond puff, blueberry buckle, lemon meringue pies, popovers, Hello Dolly bars, Christmas rolls and many other delicacies will be greatly missed by all.
Sherry never cared for cold weather, but 40 years in the steamy basement kitchen of the Hartland Roast Beef Suppers didn’t afford much time for the winter blues. She made countless pies and supervised the “A-team” as a lively and dedicated Kitchen Crew Chief. If you ever went to a series of suppers in January, you surely tasted one of her soft rolls and heavenly gravy.
Sherry loved the Hartland community where she was actively involved in her children’s education and sporting lives. For 30 years, she organized the children’s parade at the Hartland 4th of July “Old Home Day” where all babies in the stroller section got a commemorative silver dollar. She served the Hartland Congregational Church on both the Board of Trustees and Deacons, sang in the choir, volunteered with the church bazaar, camp outings and youth group. She and her family spent many memorable years acting, singing and dancing in the Hartland Variety Show.
She always looked forward to her June vacations in Maine with extended family and all the fun they had freezing in the Atlantic, playing bingo, putting on talent shows, shopping and savoring the ocean’s bounty. Her last Maine trip culminated in a full moon lobster bake under a festive party tent at the water’s edge. It was a whimsically decorated soirée, sparing no detail. Social, sparkles, laughter, joie de vivre. That was Sherry to the core.
Her two young granddaughters loved their “Grammie” and all the fun things they did together, visiting Santa’s Village, Whale’s Tail, Clark’s Trading Post, the Montshire Museum, hiking down
the Quechee Gorge, Koto for hibachi lunches, playing in leaf piles, baking, making crafts and many more messes. Their Grammie loved going on picnics in nature and tea parties of all kinds.
Sherry loved the pets who paraded through her life, Ted & Fred the chickens who laid eggs in her kitchen window flower boxes, Buffy the tiger who survived the house fire, Baby the Maine coon who stole pork chops, Bam Daddy who curled around her sleeping head like a black wig, and Dallie the sweetest kitty in the world. There were loyal doggies, Fergie and Quiche, not to mention her pet sheep and favorite childhood friends Blaze, Skipper and Bonnie Lassie. Her critters brought much joy.
Sherry loved people and treated her neighbors, friends and everybody else’s children like family. Generous to a fault, she was a wonderful gift giver and philanthropist, always putting others’ needs before her own. She donated much time, resources, party favors and food gifts to Upper Valley and regional organizations.
Sherry had a diverse circle of friends and enjoyed supporting the arts, listening to her favorite local singer Jason Cann at Harpoon Brewery, Dartmouth concerts and theater at Northern Stage. She loved drinking margaritas at Gusanoz, catching up with friends at Simon Pearce, and always raved about the lamb at Prince & Pauper. She’d meet you at P&H Truck Stop for frank&beans and whoopie pies to go. Dining out with Sherry was fun. To be fair, doing anything with Sherry was fun. She frequented auctions and antique stores, played cheap slots with a twinkle in her eye, losing a few slippery quarters along the way.
Sherry’s career at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center spanned three decades in Public Affairs and Marketing. She worked closely with local media outlets, spearheaded the annual Health Fair, coordinated news flow and patient information as the hospital moved from the Hanover location to Lebanon, promoted the DART air rescue program, wrote many President speeches and employee retirement biographies for the annual Service Club Dinners, and in 2008 received the Varnum Award for outstanding support employee. She put down her pen in 2011. The idea “retirement” was rather foreign so from 2011-2014, Sherry worked part-time as a marketing writer for Grafton County Senior Citizens Council where she organized the first Walk for Meals in 2012.
She knew the importance of giving back and served her community with pride, making many lasting friendships along the way. She spent years devoted to Prevent Child Abuse as a board member. For 19 years, Sherry served the Rotary Club of Lebanon with many local and international projects, co-founded The Friends of Grafton County Drug Court, contributed many times as a Paul Harris Fellow, and served as Club President from 2008-2009.
She is survived by her husband Darryl J. Calkins and three children Kristin Calkins living in Röthenbach, Germany, Prof. Byron James Calkins of Elko, NV, Karianne (Calkins) Scott and son-in-law Christopher James Scott and two granddaughters Addison and Averill Scott of Wheelock, VT.
Two sisters Teresa Fuller of Lebanon, NH and Pamela Laferriere of Lyndonville, VT, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Godspeed and blessed travels to our wife, mother, sister, aunt and friend. You touched us all in so many ways. From one of the show tunes she’d sing in the car, the words mean so much at this time, We’ll meet again, don’t know where don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.
The Calkins family is grateful for the many wonderful friends and family, neighbors and DHMC healthcare professionals for their support during this life transition. Your words, cards, letters, visits, food, care and generosity are appreciated beyond words.
The funeral service is scheduled for Friday, February 1, 2019 at 2:00 PM at the Hartland Congregational Church. A celebration will follow at Hartland Damon Hall. A springtime committal will be held at the Danville Green Cemetery. To leave a message for the family, please visit knightfuneralhomes.com
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory may be sent to Prevent Child Abuse VT, PO Box 829, Montpelier, VT 05601, and the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department c/o John Sanders, PO Box 341 Hartland, VT 05048
Go Alice Go!