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BETSY ECKFELDT

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ROXBURY — Betsy Eckfeldt died peacefully in her home in Roxbury on Aug. 13, 2013. She was 63 years old and had cancer.

She shared a home with her husband, Norm, that they began building 40 years ago, surrounded by their flower and vegetable gardens, trails through the woods where she walked, skied and snow shoed. Her family says she loved making fruit pies and jams, which she mostly gave away, and visiting her mom’s home in Maine where she swam and voraciously picked blueberries.

Born and raised in Fitchburg, Mass., she traveled to Stowe, Vt., every weekend to ski with her family, attended Applewild School and St. Mary’s in the Mountains, then Middlebury College, majoring in elementary education and French.

After graduating in 1971, she lived briefly in England before returning to Vermont. While working at a small ski lodge in Warren, she met her husband, a fellow “back-to-the-lander.” Soon afterwards, they began building a life together in Roxbury, growing their own food and raising two children, while he made period furniture and she dried flowers to sell on a cart she parked at farmers’ markets and craft shows.

Her teaching career was dedicated to early childhood education and literacy. She taught preschool at Waitsfield Elementary School for 24 years, and briefly at both Warren and Moretown elementary schools. She ran Spring Hill School summer camps.

For years she was a library trustee and grant-writer, and in 1993, she began co-creating literacy programs for the Vermont Humanities Council to introduce new parents to the importance of reading to young children.

Relatives say one of her greatest pleasures was teaching yoga and mindfulness meditation to youngsters, and she attended a Kripalu Yoga teacher training in the fall of 2011, after retiring from Waitsfield Elementary School. She called it “yoga boot camp” and emailed family daily with her reflections starting at 6 a.m. She was also a certified YogaKids instructor. She planned to consult part-time in schools and to teach privately as part of what she called the “Vermont Mindfulness Movement,” a curriculum she was developing when she found out she had cancer in spring 2012.

She is survived by her husband, Norm Vandal; her mother, Phyllis; her daughter, Emily; her son, Nathaniel; her son-in-law, Zubin; her daughter-in-law, Lindsey; one grandson; and her brother, Grant, and his family.

A ceremony and potluck celebration to honor her life will be held at Knoll Farm/Center for Whole Communities, in Waitsfield, on Sunday Sept. 8, at 3 p.m. Family and friends are asked to bring flowers (no stems) for a community ritual art mandala and a potluck hors d’oeuvre to share. Guests are asked to carpool and consider dressing to honor her.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hope Lodge, Burlington, Vt., or the Vermont Humanities Council’s “NTE” program. 

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