In Memoriam: Dewey Guidry | In Memoriam | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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In Memoriam: Dewey Guidry

Published July 1, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.
Updated July 1, 2020 at 4:52 p.m.

Dewey Guidry
  • Dewey Guidry

Dewey Guidry died at the young age of 21 in Ohio on July 14, 1971 — 49 years ago. Dewey and I grew up in Burlington, and our family was very poor. Even as a young boy, Dewey was a provider for the rest of us. He would fish in the Winooski River. He’d pick apples off trees in the neighborhood and fat, ripe blackberries from bushes by the Winooski railroad tracks.

It was so tough that he even stole winter gloves and hats from the old Woolworths on Church Street in Burlington. My mother would force him to return them, of course, and to tell the manager what we had done.

Dewey Guidry
  • Dewey Guidry

Dewey had a red wagon that he took all over Burlington. He picked up old copper and discarded newspapers, which he could sell for a modest amount of money. He turned it all over to my mother for necessities.

Times were hard, though, and in 1959, he and I were put into the St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage on North Avenue. It could be a cruel place, and Dewey suffered beatings at the hands of the clergy who ran it. He stood up to them and was brave enough to try to save us all: He even tried to burn the place down.

He grew up fighting in other broken systems: Vermont social welfare, the Waterbury Mental Hospital, the Reform School in Vergennes, the courts.

Dewey's photo hanging on a wall
  • Dewey's photo hanging on a wall

Despite a rough upbringing and the cruelty of some of the nuns at the orphanage, Dewey grew up to love women, no matter what they looked like. He just did. He had a wonderful girlfriend not long before he died. But he left his home in New Jersey after a disagreement, and he told her he’d be back on his birthday.

He was arrested in Ohio for disturbing the peace. He wound up hanged with his own T-shirt. He’d been beaten. I still have a photo of him in his casket with bruises.

Years ago, I wrote a book. My brother is in it, and so is Martin Luther King Jr. I know God as my witness, and everything happens for a reason.

My brother’s suffering and death should be remembered, and it should not be in vain. His siblings will always remember him.

— Coralyn Guidry

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