Obituary: John Powers Cain, 1950-2018 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: John Powers Cain, 1950-2018

Published June 18, 2018 at 5:30 a.m.
Updated June 18, 2018 at 6:46 p.m.

John Powers Cain
  • John Powers Cain

John Powers Cain, age 68, passed away on June 16, 2018, at home and surrounded by his loving family, after a long and courageous battle with various illnesses.

John was born on May 19, 1950, in Burlington, Vt., the first of seven children born to L. John Cain and Paulina P. Cain. John married his high school sweetheart, Betsy (Clavelle), in 1973, and they lived a happy life together filled with love. John was a loving father of two children, Sean and Rebekah; a great father-in-law to Yvonne (Leung) and Chris Louis; and an incredible grandfather to Reb and Chris’ sons, Aiden Demetri and his namesake, Elijah John.

John grew up in Burlington and attended Rice High School, where he met Betsy. In 1973, John graduated from the University of Vermont. After college, John and Betsy moved to Boston, where they shared a small studio apartment right in the city. After growing tired of the bustle of the city, they moved across the country to Mill Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area. There, John and Betsy shared an apartment with their close friend Arty LaVigne, where they lived life to the fullest and enjoyed the "Summer of Love" spirit and the burgeoning hippie and counterculture movements. John was then accepted into the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he received his law degree and witnessed an Irish National Championship in football and became a Fighting Irish for life.

John and Betsy then moved back to the Burlington area, where he started a very successful career as an attorney. John viewed his profession as not only a career but a life calling, and he went out of his way to assist others who were less fortunate or in need. John eventually opened his own practice with three close friends, later becoming a partner at McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper and Burchard, P.C. John viewed his colleagues as a second family and loved spending time with his coworkers inside and outside of work. Even after John retired in 2010, he still acted as a consultant to his old firm until days before his passing.

John left a lasting impression on all the lives that he touched. He was a man of great morals and always did everything the right way. He wanted to be able to look back and not have any regrets, knowing that he made the right decisions, treated people as they should be treated and carried himself in a manner that he would be proud of. When discussing his life shortly before he passed, neither John nor his immediate family could think of anything that he would have done differently. He was an inspiration and a role model to his family and many others, guiding those who surrounded him through difficult times and making everyone around him a better person. John will also be remembered by all for his sense of humor, quick wit, wisdom and ability to find a nickname for everyone he met.

John dealt with serious illnesses for 18 years. There were many occasions during this time when we thought we would lose John, but through his strength and determination, he fought through and persevered. Through all of these hard times, John never ever complained. He always had a positive outlook, caring more about how those around him were doing than what he was going through. His strength, bravery, courageousness and selflessness were an inspiration to all and added a perspective to a world where too many worry about things that are not truly important.

Most importantly, John’s legacy is defined by his commitment to his family. He would do anything for his family and always put them first in his life. He was an incredible husband to his "B." Betsy was the love of his life and also his best friend. They embarked on many adventures and travels together, where it didn’t matter what they were doing or where they were going as long as they had each other. He was the best father Sean and Reb could ever have asked for. He guided them through life, teaching lessons, morals and the way to treat other people. He spent countless hours taking Sean to hockey tournaments and Reb to horseback riding competitions, always providing support and cheering them on. In 2016, Reb gave birth to Aiden, and John became a grandfather. John stated he had been waiting his whole life for this moment. He was so dedicated to role of a grandfather that he would take the Megabus from Burlington to Boston by himself each week to provide “Groover’s Babysitting Services.” In 2017, Reb gave birth to another baby boy, Elijah John. One of John’s greatest joys was spending time with his grandsons. Although John’s life ended too early, his legacy and love will always live on with his family.

John is survived by his immediate family and five brothers and sisters and their families: Betsy Cain; Sean and Yvonne Cain; Rebekah, Chris, Aiden and Elijah Louis; Dr. Paul Cain (Kathryn Cain); Dan Cain (Joan Lyons); Larry Cain (Cara Cain); Connie Ramsey (Jack Ramsey); and Elizabeth Steinman (Paul Steinman). John is predeceased by his beloved mother and father, Paulina and L. John Cain, and his brother Stephen Cain.

Visiting hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, June 22, at LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service. The family will hold an intimate Celebration of Life at Betsy’s family camp (Camp Overlake, 618 E. Lakeshore Dr., Colchester, VT) from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. If you would like to share your condolences, please visit

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in John's memory to the Paulina P. Cain Fund at the UVM Cancer Center. Donations can be mailed to UVM Larner College of Medicine c/o Meredyth Armitage, 89 Beaumont Ave. N313, Burlington, VT 05405.

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