New Haven – Alan Walter Curler, a life-long Vermonter and pillar of the New Haven community for nearly 30 years, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep during the early morning hours of January 20, 2020.
The oldest of five boys, Alan grew up in “the Hollow” in North Ferrisburgh, where his mother, Pauline (Thorpe), and his father, Walter Curler, fostered his kindness, humility, selflessness, and work ethic, while his brothers taught him to have patience and a sense of humor. Although he was not the most studious as a young man, Alan graduated from Vergennes High School in 1968, then went on to earn his Associates degree from Vermont Technical College in 1970 and a Bachelor’s from the University of Vermont in 1972, both focused on Agricultural Technology.
After finishing his schooling, Alan returned to Randolph as the VTC herdsman where he met his wife-to-be, Elizabeth (Carlson). Alan, always knowing a good thing when he saw it, waited only three weeks before proposing to Betsy; they were married on May 1, 1976. Heather and Matthew, their first two children, were born in Randolph; their second son, Jesse, joined the family a few years later. It was obvious how proud Alan was of the men and woman his children had become. His two grandchildren, Sullivan and Rosemary, brought him great joy and he coveted opportunities to show off pictures of them. Alan loved his family and friends dearly; they were the most important thing in his life.
When the opportunity arose, Alan returned to Addison County with his family in 1990, taking over an old farmhouse on North Street in New Haven, where he lived the remainder of his life. It was here that Alan and Betsy raised their family and created a home. Alan could frequently be found puttering around in his garage woodshop, tending to his large vegetable garden, and spending Sunday afternoons processing those vegetables while watching his beloved Giants. He enjoyed movies and the time spent on the couch with his family watching them, though you were just as likely to find him “resting” his eyes as watching the film. Alan relished any opportunity to mix up a batch of cookies; he would bake mounds of them to share with neighbors for the holidays and would make a batch for special occasions or just to brighten your day. Alan was always the first to call on birthdays and anniversaries and never missed an opportunity to send a greeting card.
Alan was musically gifted. He learned the guitar as a young man, before embracing bluegrass music and teaching himself to play the banjo. Throughout their childhood, his children would fall asleep to his nightly banjo picking. More recently, Alan added the fiddle to his repertoire and spent his time learning songs to play for his family and grandchildren. In addition to his instruments, you could count on Alan to bring his playing cards and cribbage board to family functions. He was an avid card player, with cribbage and nickels being his favorites, though you could also find him playing Uno with his nieces and nephews. Alan’s competitive spirit extended beyond the card table to include bowling and horseshoes. He participated in the Shelburne bowling league for the duration of his time in New Haven and filled box upon box with trophies from his horseshoe tournaments.
Alan was a lifelong supporter of Vermont agriculture. Following his upbringing working on local dairy farms with his father and brothers, he continued working on dairies in his early career and later became an agricultural lender for the USDA. He spent the remainder of his career working with dairymen, and other agricultural producers, to develop business, marketing, and succession plans, as well as finding ways to help them fund their ventures. He cared deeply about the dairy industry and the farmers with whom he worked; he was a favorite of innumerable dairymen in Vermont and the surrounding areas. He was also the “only banker to show up on a Harley” for many of these farmers.
Alan believed in giving back to his community. He also felt strongly that children should have access to the many opportunities he did not as a child. His commitment to children and community shined through in the organizations he supported with his time. His contributions are too numerous to list and tenures of such duration we’ve lost track. Alan helped build the New Haven recycling program from its inception; he served as Cubmaster and Den Leader for generations of Cub Scouts in Pack 600; in addition to coaching the New Haven girls’ softball team, he served as coordinator for New Haven Little League and later President of the Mt. Abe Little League District; he served as President of the Addison County 4-H Foundation and Treasurer of the Vermont FFA Foundation, and, for 19 years, from 6AM to 11PM, you could find him behind the grill at the Dusty Chuck at Field Days, where he refused to allow the 4-Hers to use a calculator, insisting they should learn to do the math in their head. Alan also served the VTC Alumni Association as Treasurer and, later, President; Eastern States Exposition and New Haven Congregational Church as a trustee; and his bowling league as President.
Alan received numerous awards and recognition for his community service and although he was proud of the contributions he made, he was modest and rarely spoke of his accomplishments. His most recent acknowledgements included: the Honorary American FFA Degree, recognition in the New Haven Town Report; a Vermont House concurrent resolution honoring his “outstanding civic service”; and VTC Alumni of the Year.
Those who have been fortunate enough to know Alan (and there are many), speak of his kindness, thoughtfulness, his passion and dedication, his sense of humor, and their thankfulness to have had the opportunity to know such a wonderful man, a gentle giant. His presence will be missed by all. Alan is survived by his wife Betsy; daughter Heather; son Matthew (Jennifer); son Jesse; grandson Sullivan and granddaughter Rosemary. He is also survived by his brothers Peter (Laurie), Kenneth (Robin), and John (Penny); his wife’s family; and numerous nieces, nephews, and their children. Alan was predeceased by his parents and his brother Lee.
Alan’s legacy and ideals will long survive him through the dozens, hundreds, and probably thousands of lives that he influenced with his love and caring.
A celebration of Alan’s life will be held 11 a.m. on Saturday January 25, 2020 at the North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church. Calling hours will be 5:00-8:00 PM on Friday, January 24, 2020 at Brown McClay Funeral Home in Vergennes. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made, in his name, to the Addison County 4-H Foundation and/or the Vermont FFA Foundation.