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Richard Coutant III


1948 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Richard Coutant III Obituary
Richard Henry Coutant III

1948 - 2015 GUILFORD Richard Henry Coutant III died at home on the morning of Sunday, June 7, 2015, with his beloved wife, Verandah Porche, at his side, six weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Richard was 67. He was born in East Orange, NJ on April 6, 1948, the son of Richard Henry Coutant Jr. and Florence Marjorie McElrath. Richard's parents moved from suburban New Jersey to East Bethel, VT in 1953. Richard's father operated Coutant's Country Center, a small grocery store and gas station, while his mother refinished and sold antiques out of their garage. Richard and his sister, Christopher, attended elementary school across the street in an octagonal, one-room schoolhouse with a wood burning stove and outhouse. Richard spent his childhood in East Bethel riding his bicycle, playing baseball, fishing, collecting baseball cards and exploring the woods where he acquired his life-long love of history, represented by abandoned buildings and crumbling foundations. In sixth grade, at a time when the testing of IQ in schools was a popular fad, Richard scored at "genius" level. His thrilled parents insisted on his education being diverted into the high level achievement of private schools. Finding himself suddenly thrust into the social and economic world of the Loomis Chaffee school while on academic scholarship provided his first real life challenge. All he really wanted was to come home. He put his energies into a combination of misbehavior and academic antics that got him expelled after three years, and he finished his secondary education at Montpelier High School. That same year he became a National Merit Scholar. He attended and graduated with honors from Marlboro College in 1969, where his unique brilliance was valued and where he finally felt at home. It was there that he met many who became life long friends. A few were able to visit him in his last weeks. For many years he ran the CETA (the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) office in Brattleboro and became well known for his compassion and creativity. In 1983, he began work towards a law degree at the Vermont Law School from which he graduated J.D. Magna cum laude, in 1986 and acted as Head Notes Editor of the Law Review. He began work in Bellows Falls for Salmon and Nostrand Attorneys in 1986, became a partner two years later, remaining with the firm until his death. He was a skilled mediator and believed in alternative dispute resolution. He will be remembered by his fellow lawyers and clients as a man of great skill, gentleness, manners and wit. He privately assisted friends and neighbors with legal issues, often refusing compensation for that work. After a brief first marriage, he met and wed Verandah Porche, on October 6, 1979. With that union, he became the proud father of Oona Adams and then Emily Julia Coutant, born on April 6, 1981. He and Verandah divorced in 1995, reunited in 2001 and remarried on May 31, 2014. Richard loved old cars, maps, and the ruins he traveled the world to see. A brilliant photographer, he often focused on the beauty found in rusting cars, the curve of a tree trunk, and the faces of those he loved. He was a collector of cameras, artifacts and hundreds of friends. All will miss him. Richard leaves his beloved family: Verandah, their daughters, Oona and Emily, Oona's husband, Matt Bunting and granddaughter, Sadie Bunting, his sister, Christopher Coutant of Brattleboro, and her children, Suzannah and Henry Wainhouse and granddaughter, Indigo Wainhouse. Richard was buried by his family and friends, hours after his death, on the property of Packer Corners Farm in Guilford, where he lived. A memorial service for Richard will be held at a future date to be announced. Those wishing to honor Richard may make a donation to Vermont Legal Aid or The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on June 12, 2015
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