- Michael Tonn
By now, most of our readers are familiar with the phenomenon of — if not the name for — aptronyms: surnames that seem uncannily suited to their bearers' professions, pursuits or extracurricular activities. Collecting them over 12 months of news and listing them in Seven Days' year-end issue has been a tradition for the past eight years.
None of this year's examples could best the 2014 aptronym of the year: Don Popadick, the 62-year-old Canadian man arrested for repeatedly flashing visitors in Mooney's Bay Park in Ottawa. Still, we can report that on March 25 of this year, police popped 53-year-old Michael Gordon Dick of Gresham, Ore., for masturbating, naked, in the vicinity of Tickle Creek.
2015 offered some other potential winners. On February 28, Elias Rushing, a 19-year-old from Dorset, Vt., crashed his car into a house in Rupert while fleeing a state trooper who had tried to pull him over for speeding. According to police, Rushing drove through an intersection and struck a fence before hitting the house and barely missing the homeowner sitting inside.
And then there is Carmen Gross. The 40-year-old East Corinth woman was convicted in September on two misdemeanor counts of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Gross was charged with spending more than $40,000 of the person's income and savings for her own personal benefit. Gross misconduct, indeed.
In a year when the country's prodigious stockpile of firearms seemed to make headlines daily, this year's winning aptronym belongs to a canine: Trigger. The chocolate Labrador retriever in North Webster, Ind., shot its owner, Allie Carter, in the foot by stepping on her 12-gauge shotgun during an October hunting trip.
The aptronym runners-up of 2015 include:
David Mason: Master stone wall builder in Starksboro.
John Greene: Vendor and sponsor contact for the Emerald Cup, a competition held annually in northern California among outdoor medical marijuana growers.
Anja Wurm: Vergennes veterinarian.
Thom File: U.S. Census Bureau employee who compiles election statistics.
Donna Farmer: Pesticide toxicologist for the Monsanto Company in St. Louis, Mo.
Emily Wines: Master sommelier and senior director of national beverage programs at San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
Samantha Funk: Music teacher at Union Elementary School in Montpelier.
Craig Rush: Drug abuse researcher at the University of Kentucky.
James Corner: Urban landscape architect who designed Manhattan's High Line and Freshkills Park on Staten Island.
Ashley Green: Certification specialist for Vermont Organic Farmers.
Tabitha Burns: Organizer for the Satanic Temple's Orange County, Fla., chapter, which tried to hand out satanic coloring books to students. The move prompted an Orlando school district to ban the distribution of religious materials from all outside organizations.
Donald Crummey: Iroquois, Ont., truck driver who on July 6 rolled his tractor-trailer truck filled with cornmeal at VT Route 78 and Rice Hill Road in Sheldon.
Don Featherstone: Inventor of the plastic pink flamingo, who died in June at the age of 79.
Jason Baer: Vice president of sales and marketing at Vermont Teddy Bear in Shelburne.
Thomas Bacon: Nineteen-year-old Madison, N.J., man charged with assault after he beat up someone for taking the last breakfast sausage in the house. As an article in USA Today aptly noted, "It was not clear how the two men were linked."
Susan Miller: Director of the baking education center at King Arthur Flour in Norwich.
Tonia Pryce: Liquor purchasing and warehousing chief for the Vermont Department of Liquor Control.
Emily Fair: Director of customer service at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont.
Dan Bolles: Founder of the Whiskey Ball Gutter League at Champlain Lanes (also Seven Days' music editor).
Flo Meiler: Shelburne great-grandmother and international track-and-field star who holds numerous world records in her age category. She's 81.
Margaret Fowle: Conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont.
Jonathon Goldhammer: ReStore manager, Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity.
Dan Price: Founder and CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, a business credit-card processing service. In April, Price took a 90 percent pay cut to raise the salaries of all his employees to at least $70,000 per year. Business is now booming.
Rev. Jamyi Witch: Wiccan chaplain at the maximum-security Waupun Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wisc.
Killian Lynes: Nineteen-year-old Poultney man arrested on March 10 in Rockingham for trafficking approximately 600 bags of heroin worth an estimated $12,000.
Nathan Robtoy: Twenty-six-year-old St. Albans man arrested on February 5 for possession of stolen property.
Cara Joy: Organizer for OneTaste Burlington's Orgasmic Meditation group.
Father Patrick Godley: Former pastor of St. Cecilia Parish on Bainbridge Island, Wash.
Alex Malarkey: Coauthor of the purportedly nonfictional The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, who later confessed that he'd made up the entire story.
Neil Dragoon: Burlington man arraigned late last year on five felony counts of promoting child pornography.
Jeremy Gates: Twenty-eight-year-old Bennington man arrested on April 20 for an unlawful trespass in Shaftsbury.
Richard Darling: Former Vermonter arrested in Colorado in November for allegedly murdering, dismembering and burning a man in a dispute over a mutual love interest.
Isaiah Law: Nineteen-year-old Alburgh man arrested by a Vermont State Police trooper for violating five separate sets of court-ordered conditions of release in pending criminal cases.
Keith Straight: Thirty-three-year-old South Hero man who, on February 15, crashed his car on the median of Interstate 89 in Milton. Straight was later taken into custody for suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs.
Blake Sweet: Twenty-one-year-old Corinth man arrested on August 20 after police say he punched a family member several times, then struck the individual with a stool and a broomstick.