Donald Skinner Bicknell, M.D., 84, longtime Vergennes physician
FERRISBURGH — Donald Skinner Bicknell, M.D., passed away peacefully on Monday, March 2, 2020, while surrounded by his loving family.
Don was born on Aug. 16, 1935, at home in Jeffersonville. He was the son of George and Rachel Skinner Bicknell. Don graduated from Richford High School in 1953, where his father was a teaching principal who taught him math, physics and chemistry. While attending and graduating from UVM undergraduate school in 1957, he was a member of Delta Psi fraternity and the Key and Serpent Honorary Society. He graduated from UVM College of Medicine in 1961, where he was elected a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society.
Don interned at the Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y., and then entered the U.S. Army Medical Corps, in which he served for a year each at Fort Douglas in Utah and at Madigan General Hospital in Tacoma, Wash. He returned to Vermont in 1964 and set up his medical practice in Vergennes in the family home on Main Street. Don then moved to a single converted apartment on North Street. When his son, Tim, joined his practice in 1995, another son, Peter, built a new office on North Street. This became Little City Family Practice.
In 50 years of practicing medicine in Vergennes Don grew the office from a solo practitioner to a staff of over 20 caring and dedicated employees. He mentored countless medical students and medical residents. He was beloved by his patients and extremely dedicated to them. He continued to make house calls and meet patients at the office on weekends until the end of his career at the age of 77.
Don met the love of his life, Elizabeth Beck, while at UVM. They were married on June 20, 1959, in Charlotte. Together, he and Liz raised five children: David, Timothy, Ann, Peter and Paul. Each one made Don very proud, as did his ten devoted and loving grandchildren. One of Don’s favorite pastimes was spending time with his family at his summer camp on Thompson’s Point in Charlotte, a summer home that Don enjoyed from the time he was seven years old.
Don enlisted the Vermont Army National Guard in 1979 and served as Commander, Medical Company, 186 Forward Support Battalion. In 1995 he retired as a full Colonel and State Surgeon, having received the Army Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
In addition to being a full-time physician, Don served his community in many ways: he was elected the Ferrisburgh Moderator at Town Meeting Day, which he served for more than 20 years; a member of the UVM College of Medicine Admissions Board; dedicated parent of the Vergennes Swim Team, serving as a starter and as an official at swim meets when all five of his children were members of the team; umpiring Little League games; chairing the Vergennes United Methodist Church Administration board; being a founding member of the Little City Jazz Band, where he played both tenor and alto saxophone; member of Vergennes City Band; founding member of the Vergennes Union High School Boosters Club; member of the Counseling Services of Addison County Board of Directors; assisting the Vermont State Police Diving Team; and in the early 1970’s he and Liz began the Ferrisburgh Cub Scout pack.
His professional awards and achievements include co-authoring a New England Journal of Medicine article on Tularemia published in 1968. In 2004 he was the recipient of the UVM College of Medicine’s Co-Family Medicine Doctor of the Year; in 2006 he received the Service to Medicine and Community Award from the UVM College of Medicine; and in 2016 was a recipient of the State Community Service Legislative Recognition.
Don is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Elizabeth Beck Bicknell; his children David Skinner Bicknell of Nonthaburi, Thailand (wife Pomh and children Kai and Kayla), Dr. Timothy Donald Bicknell of Ferrisburgh, (wife Casey and sons Maxwell and Robert), Annie Louise Bicknell Poskas of Ferrisburgh, (husband Michael), Peter Beck Bicknell of West Addison, (wife Sarah and children Gavin, Michaela, Isaac and Delaney), and Paul Michael Bicknell of Bridport, (children Hannah and Nicholas); his sister Ann Bicknell Hodgman (children Suzanne, Sandra and Donna); and brother-in-law, Richard Beck (wife Katie and children Brian and Charles). Don was pre-deceased by his brother-in-law Bruce Clark Hodgman and nephew Daniel Edwin Hodgman.
Please join the family for a celebration of life, which will be held at The Vergennes Opera House at 2 p.m. on March 21.
The family would like to thank the staff at The UVM Health Network-Porter Medical Center for their care and compassion.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Addison County Home Health and Hospice at achhh.org.
Arrangements are in care of Corbin and Palmer Funeral Chapel, 209 Falls Road, Shelburne, VT.◊
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