John Littlefield Handy, Jr. – Huntington

John Littlefield Handy, Jr., “Jack”, of Huntington, Vt., died at The Arbors in Shelburne, on December 14, 2012 at the age of 92. Born on August 14, 1920 to John L. Handy, Sr. and Virginia Seiberling Handy, Jack grew up in Barnstable, Mass. with five younger siblings. He studied classical piano and music theory at the Diller-Quayle School of Music in 1935-36 and graduated from Milton Academy in 1939, where he got his start writing poetry. He earned a B.A. in history and literature from Harvard in 1948, an M.A. in English literature from Columbia University in 1950, and worked on his Ph.D. on Hemingway at Brown University. Jack enlisted in the 10th Mountain Infantry Division Ski Troops during WWII, taking part in the landing on Kiska in the Aleutian Islands. He later graduated from Officer Candidate School with the rank of lieutenant and was deployed to Japan. He met his future bride, Jane, while on leave hiking in the Japanese Alps. They were married in Tokyo and honeymooned in the mountains of Japan. Jack then taught English at the Waring Ranch School in New Mexico, followed by two years as an English instructor at the University of Kansas. The family then moved to Vermont where Jack was director of admissions, taught English, and coached soccer for seven years at Middlebury College. Jack spent free time cross-country skiing, exploring, sailing, camping, and cutting trails. He and Jane often acted in plays with the local community theater group, where Jack demonstrated a knack for ad-libbing. In 1960 the family left for Bennington where Jack was the director of admissions and taught English and creative writing at Bennington College, picking up additional work at the Hoosac School in N.Y. Three years later he was hired as the headmaster of a struggling private school in Stowe. Jack considered his work here to be the most rewarding in his professional life. The school attracted talented faculty and students, and it blossomed. Jack taught creative writing and poetry classes. It was during this time that Caroline and her dog Duchess joined the family. When he retired from the school after thirteen years students and faculty built him a Matinicus Peapod sailboat as a farewell gift. Jack sailed and rowed his 16’ boat over hundreds of miles along the New England seacoast and among offshore islands, as well as on Lake Champlain. In 1977 Jack and Jane left Stowe for their hillside land in Huntington. They followed this with a larger house for their expanding family and visitors. Using pulleys, rollers, and levers, Jack moved massive fieldstones into place as lounge chairs, walkways and stone walls, a water containment system, garden art, a diving board and waterfalls. In his spare time he volunteered for ten years with a Burlington advocacy center, taught English at Champlain College, served on advisory councils, boards and various committees, scouted and cut a portion of the Catamount Trail system, collected and donated skis for school programs, took solo winter camping trips and had many opportunities to break trail and navigate in the backcountry, nearly always accompanied by one of his devoted dogs. Despite the Alzheimer’s, Jack continued to hike, jog, saw wood, ski, and sail until he was 88, and played the piano until the age of 89. As a tribute to Jack’s fading ability with written language, Jane compiled his poetry into a book for his grandson’s wedding. The Handy family is extremely thankful for the many wonderful people who loved, supported, and guided Jack through his last years. His dynamic personality never lost its sparkle; his kindness, generosity, affection, and gratitude weren’t extinguished. Jack was preceded in death by his wife Jane Martin Handy in 2007. Among many others, he is survived by sister Maize Bausch of Vermont, his daughters, Amy and Myra Handy; his great-grandchildren Asa, Benjamin and Carmen Richardson, Kai, Michael and Coral Krog, and Parker Brautigam. All are welcome to attend an informal celebration of his life at 2 pm on Saturday, May 25 at Jubilee Farm, 4582 Main Rd., Huntington Center, Vt. Donations in Jack’s memory may be made to the Burlington Vermont Humane Society, the Vermont Catamount Trail Association, or the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine.

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