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In Memoriam: Rhoda Brown

February 23, 2021

To the Middlebury Community,

I write to share the sad news that Rhoda Brown, a member of our custodial staff, died unexpectedly on February 16. We have been in touch with Rhoda's family and ask you to keep them in your thoughts.

A resident of New Haven, Rhoda was born in 1947 and grew up in Orwell, Vermont. She joined our custodial team in May 2003 and is remembered fondly by colleagues for her hard work, dedication, and humor.

"Rhoda was one of those employees we would consider irreplaceable," said Associate Director of Support Services Missy Beckwith. "Her attention to details, dedication and commitment to the faculty and staff she worked with were second to none. Personally, I always appreciated Rhoda’s wit and ability to think critically about her work—especially if new instructions would negatively impact ‘her’ people. She was one of a kind and we will miss her dearly."

Custodian Deb Larocque, who worked with Rhoda for 15 years, says of her friend and coworker, "She was a person you could talk to about anything. She loved her son, Scott, and her daughter, Tara. She had three grandkids and a ‘grand-doggie’ who were the apple of her eye."

Several colleagues have noted how much pride Rhoda took in maintaining her assigned buildings around campus. One of those buildings was 3 South Street, the president’s house, where she and President Laurie Patton developed a strong bond.

"Rhoda’s warmth, empathy, can-do spirit, and love of people and animals was evident to everyone she met," said President Patton. "She had a way of creating a beautiful, calming atmosphere as she went about her work, and she did it with a twinkle in her eye as well as a focus on the task at hand. She was always ready to lend a hand in solving a problem, and a willing ear to listen and think things through. Rhoda loved coming to work, and she loved taking care of people. She will be deeply missed."

Rhoda also worked at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, where Designer Ken Pohlman says she was integral to operations. "We always thought of Rhoda as part of our museum team," he said. "She understood our responsibility in caring for the collection and took her role in cleaning the galleries very seriously. And she was also just a lot of fun. She had a great sense of humor with great deadpan delivery. I will miss our morning laugh sessions."

Amy Carlin, community relations specialist and presidential events coordinator, and president of staff council, remembered her friend and colleague fondly. "Rhoda Brown was an amazing, kind, and funny woman. All the time that we spent together we would end up sharing funny stories and laughing with each other."

Rhoda Brown is survived by her son, Scott Brown of Middlebury; her daughter, Tara (Brown) Knapp of Middlebury; three grandchildren, Benjamin, Christopher and Abigail, of New Haven, Vermont; sister Claudia (Beeman) LaPorte and husband, Chuck, of North Carolina; cousin Chuck Beeman and his wife, Diane, of Florida and Orwell, Vermont, and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by both of her parents.

A funeral Mass and gathering for family and friends will be planned for sometime in the spring. Memorial contributions may be made to the Addison County Humane Society.

Sincerely,

David Provost
Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, and Treasurer