Editorial: Deane Rubright was loved

While driving to Cider Mill Road in Cornwall last Friday to attend services for Shoreham resident Deane Rubright, I followed a steady stream of cars that had been jammed up around the roundabout in Middlebury’s downtown. By the time the lot of us had turned onto Cider Mill, there was a line of cars 20 deep in front of me, and another 20 stacked up from the other direction. We were parking in the field at Woody and Ingrid Jackson’s house, where eventually 350 cars would harbor, plus over 50 motorcycles, proudly lined up along the quarter-mile driveway — in solidarity with Deane and one of his true loves: motorcycles and motorcycle racing.
Shuttle buses were on hand to taxi those who preferred to ride, but many just hoofed the half mile to Churchill and Janet Franklin’s house, where Deane had been the property manager and Janet and Churchill’s right-hand man at Bread Loaf View Farm and more recently at the Pink House Farm. Along the roadside a steady mass of friends, neighbors and family acquaintances made their way with heavy hearts at Deane’s passing the previous Sunday in a tragic traffic accident on Route 125. We passed more parked cars, 15 here, another 20 there and more parked to the east. The mood was somber, but everyone was also filled with awe — awe that so many took off in the middle of the day to pay their respects.
As I approached the shed-like barn where the service was held, the sea of people — some in casual dress, others in summer casual — were from all walks of life: college officials, lawyers, doctors, judges, local business owners, farmers, landscapers, mechanics, tradesmen, handymen and lots of females with tears in their eyes. The diversity was humbling.
Through the sadness one point was clear: You don’t have to be mayor to have a large impact in your community.
But how did Deane touch so many so closely that he drew a crowd fit for a king?
The 1,000-plus in attendance stood in the sun on a sky-blue, cloudless day — or ducked into the shade of the nearby trees — as we listened to those who knew Deane best.
He was that guy, Churchill reminded friends and family, who was always there for you. That guy who dropped anything he was doing to help you when you called. He was kind and thoughtful, yet gregarious and genuine. He made friends in an instant, gave bears hugs to seal the deal, and went about brightening everyone’s day.
He was that guy who lit up the room when he entered, who led cheers in every situation you might imagine (from ball games to celebrations), and who brought a smile to your heart. He was the life of the party, lived large, and as one speaker said, “embraced his wild.”
He loved cars, motorcycles, mountain bikes and skiing (water and alpine), to name a few of his passions. He loved going fast and doing tricks in whatever sport he took up. He was an accomplished athlete. He lived life with gusto — never halfway, rarely with hesitation. And he loved telling stories, some maybe exaggerated, but then maybe not. When you were around Deane, he was never pretentious, but just naturally larger than life.
Everyone had a story in which Deane was at the epicenter, even if it was but for a moment — and even then, it felt personal, memorable, special.
That he had such impact is even more remarkable in that he had no defined audience. He wasn’t a town official or leader; not a teacher or coach; not a minister of a congregation, a rock star with adoring fans, nor the president of a company who employed hundreds.
He was a guy doing his job, raising his family, having fun along the way, and giving everything he could to a whole lot of people.
That such love was given back to Deane and the Rubright family is not surprising in small-town Vermont, but the volume was. It makes you question if you’re doing enough for others, or if your concerns are too much your own?
The community deeply mourns the loss to the Rubright family, and will sorely miss a good friend, a helping hand, a bright light in your day whenever you saw him — that guy, Deane.

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