Joan Kelton Lake, 1930-2022

Joan Lake, 1930-2022. Photo provided

GRAFTON, Vt. – Joan Kelton Lake, of Grafton, Vt., died peacefully at home on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. As she faced her final illness, she was lovingly cared for by her family and a devoted team of community members. Her last weeks were filled with visits from family and friends, and she reassured us all that while she loved and would miss us, she was ready to move on.

Joan was born in 1930 and grew up in Athens, Vt. She graduated from Bellows Falls High School, and studied at New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in Boston, Mass. She worked as an R.N. for many years, in Bellows Falls and later in Springfield, Vt.

Joan and Norman Lake were married for 55 years and they shared a kind, thoughtful, and adventurous partnership. They loved working outdoors together, whether they were clearing a view, loading brush, or going for afternoon drives down the back roads of Vermont, often by horse and buggy. They had two sons and three grandchildren. It was a special joy that Joan could meet and hold her great-granddaughter.

Joan was a strong advocate for the town of Grafton, Vt., and worked faithfully on events to bring people together and create community. Whether at the Fireman’s Sale in October, the Athens/Grafton Town Picnic in July, or weekly Grafton Cares luncheons, she was happy working alongside and motivating friends of all ages. Joan was informed and engaged in local politics and organizations. She was deeply proud of and grateful for the small but strong community of Grafton, and led by example when it came to participating in town governance and organizing community events.

Joan cared deeply for her family and extensive network of friends, and was a fantastic listener because she wanted to understand people and share her knowledge and perspective. Joan’s gardens were colorful and beautifully tended, and she lovingly planted flowers at many local cemeteries. She could often be found digging in the dirt, raking leaves, or rigorously weed whacking, right through her eighties. Her creative and productive nature was also expressed through her beautiful fiber arts. Her colorful quilts helped keep loved ones warm in chilly weather, and in times of loss, she would provide comforting shawls to remind people that they were cared for and thought of. Her hands were always busy; knitting sweaters, mittens, hats, and socks filled her time with purpose and practical beauty.

Joan’s legacy as a woman of many talents and interests will be carried on by her extensive family and many friends whose lives she touched. She will be remembered as a steady friend, a voice of reason, and an active community member. She took pride in her full calendar, peppered with events like the Women’s Community Club, Zodiac lunch, selectboard, community events, and, of course, coffee at MKT at 9 a.m. She was fearless and graceful until the end, never losing her sharp wit or ability to make everyone in the room feel loved.

She is survived by her son Tracy Lake and his wife Barbara Carey, granddaughters Mercedes Lake and Norah Lake (Chris Polashenski), grandson Hayden Lake (Hana Schlansker), and great-granddaughter Fern Polashenski. Joan was predeceased by her husband Norman Lake, and her son Steven Lake. She loved and will be remembered by many extended family members.

An outside gathering in the spring of 2023 is being planned, where Joan’s amazing life will be celebrated. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Grafton Cares, P.O. Box 134 Grafton, VT 05146

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Fenton and Hennessey Funeral Home 55 Westminster St. in Bellows Falls, Vt. Visit at


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