Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Tony Pomerleau in December
Tony Pomerleau, an iconic Vermont developer and noted philanthropist, died Thursday afternoon surrounded by family members, according to his son, Ernie Pomerleau.
He was 100.
The Burlington real estate mogul's name graces several city buildings, including the police department headquarters on North Avenue and the YMCA on College Street. Among his bigger pledges to local nonprofits, Pomerleau gave $1 million to the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington in 2014, and donated to the new Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center building. He also pitched in $500,000 for the redesign of Burlington's City Hall Park. As recently as November, Pomerleau donated $1,000 to Mayor Miro Weinberger's reelection campaign.
Pomerleau was known for throwing an annual holiday party that provided gifts to low-income children and attracted the state's top politicians.
Pomerleau was born in Quebec in 1917, and grew up in Barton and then Newport. He earned a fortune as a mall developer and ran Pomerleau Real Estate, which continues as a family empire based in Burlington. At December's holiday party, the 37th annual, Gov. Phil Scott described Pomerleau's rags-to-riches story as inspiration "for many in living the American dream."
Pomerleau's death drew tributes and condolences Friday from around the state, including from Vermont's congressional delegation and a host of businessmen and pols.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is married to Pomerleau's niece Marcelle, recalled "Uncle Tony" warmly welcoming him to the family. "We think of the good he has done for others, but in the end we think of a loving member of our family, and while not unexpected, it is a loss that will be felt by all of us over the generations," Leahy said in a statement.
Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) praised Pomerleau as an "indefatigable legend" with a "'can do' attitude."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), too, sent along a tribute: “Tony Pomerleau, a friend for over 35 years, was one of the most remarkable human beings that I've ever met. His love for Vermont and the city of Burlington was contagious, and his incredible generosity helped thousands of families in our state."