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Shelburne, VT- Laurie Valentine, 87, died peacefully at Wake Robin on November 18, 2018, one week after a joyous visit from her beloved great-grandchildren. Born in 1931, the daughter of Alan Valentine and Lucia Norton Valentine, she was named Annie Laurie after a Scottish ancestor. Most of her childhood was spent in Rochester, NY where her father was president of the University of Rochester, and on the island of North Haven, ME where her grandparents had a summer home. Growing up in the Eastman House and at Pulpit Harbor were memorable experiences that helped spur her lifelong love of architecture, art and the sea.
After attending Chatham Hall, Laurie went to Smith College, graduating in 1953 with a BA in Art History. Known for her happy interactions with small children, it’s no surprise that she became a teacher of young students at Milton Academy with the added benefit of summers off to follow her passion for island life and “messing about in boats”. At Milton she met a tall, handsome history teacher named John Buffinton. After their marriage in 1955, the couple settled in Dedham, MA then Milton, MA as the family grew to include three children. John’s acceptance of a teaching position at Emma Willard School led to two years in Troy, NY. With a divorce pending, Laurie and the children returned to Milton where she became the first director of the Village (nursery) School.
In 1971 Laurie’s life took a different tack with a move to Maine year-round. She became the director of Maine Coast Artists gallery in Rockport, tapping her creative and organizational talents. Her embrace of small town living and Maine’s natural beauty was evident in the humorous articles she wrote for the Camden Herald in 1972. In the mid-1970’s she oversaw special exhibits for the Maine Arts Commission and assisted with the creation of the Maine Festival of the Arts. She served on various boards including Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Rockport Conservation Commission and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. After her children had flown the nest, she moved to Portland, ME where she worked at Jotul and the World Trade Group before studying real estate. Returning to the midcoast, she joined the Jaret and Cohn Real Estate team and helped launch their successful Island Group based on North Haven.
Fun trips to the Caribbean convinced Laurie to take early retirement on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. She bought an affordable fixer upper with a tiny studio apartment where she could live while renting out the house for income. An avid, fearless snorkeler she enjoyed long swims exploring undersea worlds. Never one to be deterred by a “No Trespassing” sign, she was once stopped by military police for attempting to show her grandson a favorite snorkeling site at a closed Navy pier! Her adventurous spirit and love of travel brought her to both warm and cool climates, with boat trips ranging from South America to the Arctic Circle.
In 1996 after discovering the beauty of summers in the Champlain Valley, Laurie settled into the Wake Robin retirement community at the age of 65 as its youngest resident. Not ready for Vermont winters she continued to visit Vieques for several months each year well into her 70’s. She received her credentials in interior design and put her creative skills to work helping others transform their living spaces. For a number of years Laurie designed the Art Show at Shelburne Farms and served on the Town of Shelburne’s Historic Preservation & Design Review Commission and the Wake Robin Decorating Committee. She loved family gatherings, exploring Vermont’s rivers by kayak, touring homes, and attending performances at the Flynn Theatre.
Throughout Laurie’s life her homes reflected her buoyant personality and natural flair- the colorful renovation of a Victorian farmhouse and construction of a high efficiency, Scandinavian-inspired cottage in Rockport village, the cheery transformation of her home on Vieques that required a second rehab after losing its roof to Hurricane Hugo, the conversion of a wee garden shed in Thomaston into a charming, granny bedroom, and the brilliant customization of her small apartment and balcony at Wake Robin, a combination of artistic elegance and space-saving organization. No matter the size of her quarters she knew how to live large with style.
Laurie’s upbeat vision, zest for life, sparkling wit, progressive values and unsinkable spirit will be long remembered by her family and friends.
She is survived by a daughter, Lee McKim Buffinton of Burlington, VT; sons James Eliot Buffinton (and his wife Andria) of Penrose, NC and David Alan Buffinton (and his wife Sharon) of Otter Rock, OR; her four grandchildren: Dimitri Stancioff (and his wife Katherine) of Brooklyn, NY, Lucia Stancioff (and her husband Benjamin) of Cumberland, ME, Dylan Buffinton and Clement Buffinton of Paris, France; and 2 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother Garrison Valentine of South Berwick, ME; sisters-in-law Inge Valentine, Margo Valentine and Shirley Howe; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her sister Sarah McKim Valentine and her former husband John Buffinton.
Laurie’s family is grateful to the nursing staff at Wake Robin for their care and friendship over the past 3 years. A send-off in her honor is being planned for the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to ongoing hurricane relief and sustainability efforts on Vieques, PR at www.gofundme.com/viequeslove