Norman J. Vanasse, 1932-2019

Norman J. Vanasse
Norman J. Vanasse, 1932-2019. Photo provided.

LUDLOW, Vt. – Norman Joseph Vanasse, 86, died Jan. 22, 2019 at his daughter’s home in Ludlow, Vt. He prophetically began his celestial orbit in the shadow of the lunar eclipse, guided by the light of the full winter’s moon.

Norman first came into the world a hefty 11 pounds, born in Holyoke, Mass. on March 26, 1932 to the parents of Maurice Rubin Vanasse and Elaine Amanda Tessier. Norm always spoke of his mother’s wisdom and how she could effortlessly make a simple soup – those were the Depression days – feed the entire family. Norm certainly carried on this tradition of feeding all: from his scandalous limericks that could always put a smile on your face to his embodied philosophy of “live, and let live,” when you shared a table with Norm, you were always full.

Norm graduated from LaSalette Seminary in Hartford, Conn. in 1949, and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean Conflict. Norm was stationed in Victoria, Texas as the crew chief on an F-86 Saber Jet. Stories of Norm cruising with his buddies through the dusty southwest on their motorcycles always entertained us.

After the Air Force, Norm explored numerous occupations. He demonstrated and sold hi-fi equipment at Radio Shack, was a draftsman at Armstrong Rubber Co., and spent many years as a design draftsman for Cramers in Old Saybrook, Conn. In his later years, Norm and his dear friends from Cramers would get together for monthly lunches to catch up and share old memories.

At a fateful cocktail party in Guilford, Conn., Norm’s pen and paper logic met Beverly Potter’s vibrancy and flair. A long-term marriage was not in the cards, but luckily for Norm, he drew the Ace anyway. In June of 1963, Marcelle Theresa Vanasse came into the world – seven pounds of joy and grace that Norm would faithfully dedicate the rest of his life to.

Norm discovered his true passion for teaching while substituting at a variety of local technical schools in Connecticut. As a lifelong student himself, Norm went back to school to pursue a B.S. in order to teach full time. Norm then taught at three different vocational schools, mentoring and befriending scores of young adults over the course of 17 years. In 1994, Norm retired from Groton Tech. School in Connecticut and moved to Vermont – right over the hill from his daughter, son-in-law, and soon-to-be grandchildren.

Norm, ever the careful planner, spent his most valuable resource, time, wisely. His rich retirement included serving on the Ludlow and regional planning commissions, volunteering for the Windsor County court diversion program, acting as a docent at the Calvin Coolidge homestead, and tutoring young people, free of charge, for over 20 years. Norm’s charitable actions were equally matched by his love for dining and travel. Norm always said, “One hour for breakfast, two hours for lunch, three hours for dinner.” Every summer, Norm would drive to Prince Edward Island and feast upon oysters, reminiscent of his skin-diving days.

At home in Vermont, Norm would “make the rounds,” and was a beloved regular at many local restaurants. He was easily recognizable as the guy with the stuffed chest pocket, Canadian flag suspenders, and ambling gait. Norm was always prepared to engage in a political debate, game of trivia, historical discussion, or deliver a well-timed joke, of which he had many. He could easily converse with people from all walks of life and would proudly share stories of his family with anyone who would listen.

Norm is survived by his daughter Marcey Tucker; son-in-law Bill Tucker; granddaughter Phoebe Tucker and grandson Eli Tucker, all of Ludlow, Vt.; nieces and nephews in Connecticut; and several cousins in Canada.

He was predeceased by his parents and two sisters Yolande Birch and Marcelle Acabbo.

In the spirit of keeping Norm’s love for youth and education alive, donations may be made in his memory to the Ludlow Teen Center, 106 Main Street, Ludlow, VT 05149, or to the Mountainside House Teen Shelter, 6 Mill St., Ludlow VT 05149.

As per Norm’s wishes, his ashes will be held in the hands of his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, and then tossed into the air on a windy day from the mountaintop near their homes.

Services were held Saturday. Feb. 2, 2019 at the United Church of Ludlow, in Ludlow, Vt. and were officiated by the Rev. Dr. Donald Harpster.

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