Letter to the editor: Celebrating the Rubrights, a classic New England family
Almost every community in New England, it seems, boasts at least one family that embodies New England’s founding and cherished ideals: integrity, decency, industrious work, service to others, a web of loving friendships, bonds of enduring love within the family circle.
In Addison County, that family would be the Rubrights.
Jim and Cathy, and their children Brett, JJ, Ryan, and Lindsay. And until the mid-afternoon of Saturday, September 9, Deane.
The cars, the rows upon rows upon rows of cars, and the long phalanx of motorcycles, that came and went and filled a rolling meadow on Cider Mill Road last Friday—and the hundreds of mourners who spilled from those cars and bikes to embrace the family and offer words of loving solace—provided a vast visual poem of eulogy to Deane, and a human mural of affirmation to this beautiful, exemplary family.
My son Dean and I arrived near the end of the memorial gathering for Deane Rubright. We felt awestruck yet not surprised to take in the sunlit acres that were alive with the Rubrights’ friends, gathered in small clusters, waiting in the long line to sign the guest book, waiting to press the family’s flesh. Alive with Deane’s spirit.
We had a special reason for coming to celebrate Deane Rubright’s memory. I suspect that nearly everyone on the grounds had a special reason of some sort.
Ours was this: the Rubright family reached into the Powers family at a critical time in our lives. I’m sure that we are not alone in this experience, either.
In the summer of 1998, our Dean—then 16—was the pariah of the county. He had been at the wheel of a car that struck a tree and seriously injured the girl in the passenger seat. (After months of painful therapy, the girl recovered.) Vengeful forces were pillorying our son in handbills and reports to the media—and falsely—as a drunk driver. Dean was distraught, under house arrest, and aware of demands that he serve a six-year prison term.
The Rubright family, including Deane, made a humanitarian gesture to our son that my family will never forget, a gesture that restored Dean’s battered self-image and may have forestalled, for a while, the schizophrenia that eventually gripped him. Jim invited Dean to continue his work behind the counter of the Middlebury Bagel and Deli—which, as everyone in Addison County knows, was founded by Jim and Cathy, and staffed by their children. Narratives and word-portraits of this luminous place are available online.
Our son stepped up gladly and gratefully—and looked the people of the county in the eye each morning as he helped serve up bagels and doughnuts and coffee. It was Deane Rubright, robust and larger than life even then, who confirmed Dean’s membership at the Bakery by slapping a nickname on Dean: “Junior,” to keep the two of them distinct. Dean bore that nickname with pride for years. Junior modeled his sense of manhood on the self-reliant, work-with-your-hands vigor and brio of Deane, Jim, and J.J., and Brett, and Ryan. He kind of admired Lindsey, too.
The Powers family never got around to thanking Deane Rubright for the bond he created with our son. But we can thank Jim and Cathy Rubright for emblemizing all that is good in Addison County and America, and for supplying the world with five magnificent souls in their image. And in fact, that is what we’re doing right now!
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