Michael P. McKeown
West Bolton, VT
Michael Patrick McKeown, 73, left this earth as he chose, in the comfort of his home with a panoramic view of his snow-covered fields. Mike died on December 22, 2021, escaping several months of failing health and a body wracked by lung cancer. A jokester to the end, he spent his final days drinking ginger ale, eating maple ice cream, and recounting almost 52 irreplaceable years of life in his beloved West Bolton community. It was a rare day that he didn’t climb aboard his Massey Ferguson 1533, fixing, hauling, plowing, or just tooting around town, always stopping to chat with friends and neighbors (the Old Guard—Ed, Ernie, Jingles, John, Joss, JR, Kevin, Mike, Nick) or new faces just passing through. A Mike story might have taken a while, but was filled with humor, great perspective, and vivid recall of his travels—a porch rocking chair and a cold drink provided his final stage for listening, gazing upon his fields and orchard.
Born to the late John McKeown and Florence (Cochran) McKeown on February 18, 1948, Mike grew up in Richmond, VT, graduating from Richmond High School in 1966. He attended Champlain College on a soccer scholarship and then began a 40-year career as a commercial pipefitter and member of Local #693. His reputation as a water wizard was well known, turning wrenches with both hands. His favorite word was FREE, giving new life to cast-off machinery, rebuilding broken contraptions, creating useful structures—a smokehouse, a barn workshop, a log splitter, bee hives, a chicken coup, and sawmill—to name a few. Not much he couldn’t fix or get running for a buck fifty!
Mike married Brenda Norton on December 4, 1971, recently recognizing their 50th anniversary. Together, they built their home on Black Fly Hill, where they raised their two daughters, Kirsten and Bronwyn. Always akin to outdoor activities, his girls benefited from his tutelage in sports and all things in their natural surroundings. He made sure they understood mechanics, chainsaws, tire changing, and the like. His grandchildren were no less the benefactors of his busy hands, as he patiently taught fly tying, cribbage playing, cheese smoking, bonfire building, and fishing. Mike loved reading and American history was his first choice. Strangely, the radio in his F150 was tuned to classical overtures, more soothing to his hearing aid-refined ears. Recently, he was elated to know that JBJ would be returning to center field at Fenway… Go Sox! Over the years, the family enjoyed special times at the Marble Island and Northern Quebec camps with an annual summertime trip to the coast of Maine. Mike amused himself as a longtime member of the West Bolton Golf Club, joining his golfing partner, Lane, for countless tee times and laughs. Most of all, he relished his seasonal trips to his fishing camp at Lac La Loutre, his most cherished place on earth. This is where he laid down a fly line with beauty and grace over his venerated trout waters. Truly magical to watch! Fortunately, Mike was able to fly fish throughout North America with Bruce, Chris, Dennis, Scott, and Steve in tow—compiling more fish tales than anyone’s ears should have to hear! It can be said that you’d have one foot out the door for an hour and a half while Mike finished his storytelling. Understand, when we suggest that Mike had an engaging gift of gab, he always managed to run into someone he knew wherever his globetrotting took him! For now, the silence is heartbreaking.
Left to cherish his storytelling with a chuckle and an eye roll are: his wife, Brenda McKeown; daughter, Kirsten McKeown; daughter, Bronwyn McKeown and son-in-law, Chris Haggerty; grandchildren, Lena, Virginia, and Orin Haggerty; brother, John (Alice) McKeown; sister, Susan (Joe) Bauer; Norton family members; many much loved nieces and nephews. And his treat-seeking Great Danes, Birdie and Brick. Mike was predeceased by his parents and sister, Patricia Burdick.
No funeral or calling hours are planned. A spring 2022 gathering of remembrance will be held in Mike’s revered fields of home. Please feel free to remember Mike in giving to a cause of your choice. Or, take the opportunity to make a new friend whenever you can. We are forever and enthusiastically grateful, humbled, and blessed by the enveloping support and love of our Bolton community! We received special care and devotion from Jody and Dennis Plouffe, every single day in helping Mike to go along. We smile through tears!
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