- Courtesy Photo
- Amy Blanchard Darley
Amy Blanchard Darley passed away on April 3, 2021, at 66 years of age. Her death was an unexpected shock to her family, friends and the larger community in Vermont to which she dedicated her personal and professional life.
Amy was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 17, 1954, the eldest of three siblings. Her family moved to Schenectady, N.Y., and then to Long Island. She graduated early from high school to study dance at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She left Tisch to travel the country with the New York Street Theater and was a lifelong lover of dance and movement.
She met her first husband, Henry Chapin, at Pinewoods Dance Camp. She gave birth to their son Simeon in 1976 in Watertown, Mass., where they lived for a short time. Their daughter Willa was born in Cavendish in 1978 at the Glimmerstone historic mansion, an artist collective at the time. With two young children, Amy and Henry worked at Tamarack Farm, a camp for young adults at Farm & Wilderness in Plymouth, Vt., where Amy established and ran the organic gardens and camp gardening curriculum, and rejoiced in the daily ritual of song.
After they moved to North Montpelier, Amy continued her development as an environmental educator and artist at Goddard College and immersed herself in the local arts community. She later became a founding member of the Onion River Arts Council and spread her joy of movement and artistic expression with children as an artist-in-residence and, later, coordinator of artists in schools for the Vermont Arts Council.
After separating from Henry, Amy and her children remained in Vermont, settling in Plainfield. She soon met and fell in love with Avram Patt. The family moved to Worcester in 1989, and that winter Amy and Avram were married in the living room of their home on West Hill Road. The family lived there as Simeon and Willa grew, attended school and later began their own lives. Worcester remained their home until her passing.
Amy’s love for children was ignited as a mother. She continuously encouraged her children to be curious, explore, and find themselves and their unique paths in life. She extended this care for childhood to her professional life. Amy joined the nonprofit that became the Family Center of Washington County where she served six years, first as a parent educator and playgroup leader, then as Reach Up specialist and, later, the first Washington County Success by Six coordinator.
In 1996, she joined senator Jim Jeffords’ staff as his social service coordinator. For the next 10 years, until the senator retired, Amy championed the needs of children, women, families and seniors within the state, and she fought for their representation and support in state and federal policy and budgets. She was a builder of bridges, mentor to many, and fierce in her defense of resources, opportunity and equity for women, children and low-income Vermonters.
She joined the state government as the director of childcare licensing at the Department for Children and Families. Before retiring in 2016, Amy focused on food insecurity at the 3SquaresVT program, where she trained district eligibility workers.
Amy and Avram shared years of companionship and enjoyed traveling. They took annual trips to Cape Hatteras, N.C., in the summer and Culebra, Puerto Rico, in the winter. After much lobbying, Amy convinced Avram to go to Europe in 2019 — a lifelong dream fulfilled.
A constant learner with curiosity and a thirst for understanding, she often joked that she had a “PhD in life.” Amy loved gathering her family together and deeply enjoyed time with her children and grandchildren, to whom she was known as Nana — inheriting the name she called her own grandmother.
She was overbrimming with life — loving movies and popcorn, sharing good books, enjoying wordplay and jokes, taking pictures, gardening, relishing time in nature, and, maybe most of all, giving deeply thoughtful presents and messages of love to dear ones.
Since her passing, Amy's friends, colleagues and neighbors have all used similar words in their remembrances of her:
Joyful. Bright. Engaging. Passionate. Infectious. Caring. Exuding kindness and love. Radiant smile. Funny! Big thinker. Encouraging. Always curious. Shining light.
This is how we remember Amy, because that is who she was — and still is, in our hearts.
Amy was predeceased by her parents, Lois Meehan Darley and John Wilmerton Darley, and is survived by her husband, Avram Isaac Patt; her son Simeon Darley Chapin, daughter-in-law Ela Abrams Chapin, and grandsons Ari Tobias Chapin and Ezra Kai Chapin; her daughter Willa Ruth Darley Chapin, son-in-law Clancy Ian De Smet and granddog Arlo; her sister Lori Templeton Darley and brother-in-law Larry Leon; her brother John William Darley, sister-in-law Elizabeth Jones Darley, and nephews Chris, Will and Jack Darley; her best friend, Barbara Asen; and her furry canine companion Hobie.
The family requests that memorial donations in her name be made to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Family Center of Washington County and the Vermont Arts Council.
An online memorial celebration of Amy’s life and memory will be held on Saturday, May 1, at 4 p.m. Please visit bit.ly/ABDobituary for more details.
In advance of the memorial, all are invited to share a memory or tribute here: bit.ly/ABDkudoboard.