Obituary: John Arnold Myers, 1931‑2020 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: John Arnold Myers, 1931‑2020

Calais man was a lifelong skier, teacher and gardener

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John Arnold Myers - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • John Arnold Myers

“Jay” Myers passed away peacefully at Kent’s Corners, Calais, on December 26, 2020, with his beloved partner Judy Bingham and many members of his family there to support him in his last days. Jay was born in Patterson, N.J., in 1931 and called Vermont home from the time he was 9 years old. Jay lost his parents, Louise Hudson Myers and George F. Myers, early — his mother when he was only 9, and his father when he was 15. He attended a one-room schoolhouse in Landgrove, Vt., and Burr and Burton Academy and Exeter Academy for high school, playing football for both schools. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1953, where he was on the ski team. After college, he served in the U.S. Army in postwar Germany. He told stories of his youth cutting pulpwood with a crosscut saw and driving a tractor on a local farm because most of the men were away at war.

Jay had three sons and a daughter with Leslie Bingham in the late 1950s and early '60s. The family lived in Landgrove, Vt., where they ran a bed-and-breakfast. Jay taught English at the old Chester High School, Leland and Grey High School in Townsend, Vt., and finally at Castleton State College. He attended graduate school at the University of Connecticut and the University of Vermont. Jay and Leslie were divorced in 1969. Jay was horrified by American actions against civilians in Vietnam and joined student protests against the war. He was fired from his job at Castleton for his anti-war activities. He bought an old farmhouse with a barn in Poultney, Vt. Inspired by the back-to-the-land movement described by the well-known Helen and Scott Nearing, he spent the next 25 years as a self-subsistence farmer, growing and raising his food (goats, sheep, chickens, etc.), making as little money as possible. Despite the fact that power lines were attached to his farmhouse, he never had the power switched on and lived with kerosine lamps, heated with wood, cooked on a woodstove and used a two-holed outhouse. He was a man who lived up to his convictions. Jay was married twice more during those years, to Marian Prendergast and later to Isabella Gutoski. Isabella’s daughter, Anne, also lived on the farm. Along with the hard work, we (his children) all remember homemade festivals, swimming in the quarry, and learning how to dance to rock and roll, which Jay loved to do as he let his comb-over fly loose.

Jay was an avid skier and a ski instructor who taught for many years at Bromley, Sugarbush, Bolton Valley and other ski areas. He skied for 72 years and loved the sport passionately. He was a handyman who could do carpentry (hand tools only, no power tools) and plumbing and fix cars. For most of his life, from early years to old age, he put in a beautiful vegetable garden every year. Jay was an amateur painter and a sculptor who filled the walls and the lawns with his creations. He owned several sailboats over the years and, as he said, “loved mucking about in boats.”

He spent the last near quarter century of his life in Calais with his beloved partner Judy Bingham. His kids all lived nearby, and he grew close to his grandkids. Jay was predeceased by his sister Christie Myers Tolstoy. He leaves behind Judy and all his loving family — his children (all Vermonters): George Myers of Moretown, Sarah Gallagher, J.C. Myers, and Matt Myers of Calais. He leaves 11 grandchildren: Isaac Gallagher, Jamie and Cameron Moorby, Renee, Emily, Harrison Connor, Zoe, Lilly, Marley, and Remy Myers; his sister Mary Myers Samia; his four nieces: Alison Mankin, Irina Tolstoy, Louise Fusco and Joyce Moore; his three nephews: Harry Bingham, Sanford Bingham and James Samia; and his stepdaughter, Anne Filskov.

A graveside service will be held in the spring. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice.

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