Obituary: Henry Vernon Atherton, 1923-2016 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Henry Vernon Atherton, 1923-2016

Published March 2, 2016 at 4:00 a.m.
Updated March 8, 2016 at 3:58 p.m.

Henry Vernon Atherton
  • Henry Vernon Atherton

Henry Vernon Atherton passed away at his home March 1, 2016. He was an amazing man, deeply devoted to his family, a WWII veteran, a pioneer in the dairy industry, and a committed volunteer in the community.

Henry was born on November 12, 1923 in Eden, Vermont, the third and youngest son of Phineas Alger Atherton and Maude Lillian Marckres Atherton. He graduated from Barton Academy as Class Valedictorian in 1941; received a B.S. Degree, Cum Laude in Dairy Manufacturing in 1948, and an M.S. degree in 1950, both from the University of Vermont; and a PhD in Dairy Technology from Penn State in 1953.

He became a professor in the Animal and Dairy Science Husbandry Department at UVM, where he had a distinguished 36-year career as a professor, research investigator, and Dairy Extension Specialist, focusing on special interest areas of dairy and food microbiology and sanitation. He established the popular dairy bar in the newly constructed Carrigan Dairy Building, wrote the widely-used textbook, Chemistry and the Testing of Dairy Products, and mentored many of the current leaders in the dairy industry.

He became a pioneering investigator on the influence of bulk-milk cooling on the quality of milk and dairy products. For that work he was identified as a leading researcher in a 100-year history of the American Dairy Science Association. He was a founding member of the Dairy Practices Council, and president of the Vermont Dairy Industry Association, and served on several national boards in the dairy industry. He worked with the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency to establish farm water quality criteria.

He retired in 1989, and received the Sinclair Cup Award for lifetime achievement, and was elected to the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Henry was deeply involved in scouting and earned the prestigious Silver Beaver Award, and longtime member of the Kiwanis Club. He was active in his church, and volunteered with the Community On Temporary Shelter (COTS), the Joint Urban Ministries Program (JUMP), Meals On Wheels, The Flynn Theater, and the Firehouse Family Shelter.

Henry was married on August 24, 1947 to Phyllis Marie Hardy, daughter of Wayland and Alice Hardy, in their family home in Dummerston, VT. They celebrated their 68th anniversary this past August.

Along with Phyllis, Henry is survived by their son Bill and his wife Toot; son Larry and his wife Linda; son Bob and his wife LeAnn; and 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be Friday March 4 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 132 Main St., Winooski, VT 05404. A Funeral Service will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday March 5 at the First Congregational Church of Burlington 38 South Winooski Ave, Burlington, VT 05401, parking is limited please use the parking garage and street. In lieu of flowers please make donations in Henry's name to COTS (committee on temporary shelter) in Burlington. Condolences may be shared at

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