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Melinda Bussino

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Melinda J. Holden Doyle Bussino 1946-2012 BRATTLEBORO Melinda J. Holden Doyle Bussino passed away peacefully at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning with her daughters by her side, surrounded by love and music. Melinda was born on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts at 9:00 a.m.; the day and time her mother selected. She was the only child of Sharon V. Holden and E. Grace Fitzgerald Holden of Putney Rd., in Brattleboro, Vermont. Her parents were the proprietors of Holden Antiques. She was raised in Brattleboro and attended Brattleboro public schools. She graduated, with honors, from Brattleboro Union High School, class of 1964. She earned her Silver B in her junior year. She was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Brattleboro. In March 1967, Rev. James Young, then First Baptist's minister, chose her to deliver the sermon in the initial Youth Sunday. As a child, her parents had her learn the name of every Vermont town on its eastern border with New Hampshire and took her on a tour of those towns when she succeeded. She attended Green Mountain Junior College in Poultney, Vermont for part of a semester, but decided on an undergraduate degree so she transferred to Keene State College. She graduated from Keene State College in June 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In December 1967, she married Roderick H. O'Connor, formerly of Brattleboro. That marriage ended in divorce; however they remained close friends for life. She began her professional career working for the Strafford County NH Community Action Agency in Somersworth, N.H. as an Outreach Case Worker. During her time there, she was effective in local, state and New England-wide anti-poverty advocacy efforts. She was also promoted to a case work supervisor position with the Strafford County CAA. She married Louis Doyle on Valentine's Day, 1974 in her parent's home in Brattleboro. Melinda became step-mother to two and she and Louis had two children in the next two years. In 1976, the family moved to Westminster West to settle on the Holden family property. They built a home there that Melinda has remained in since. Louis passed away in 1980. In addition to jobs at the USPS in Putney and with Keith Banjo Tuners in Westminster, Melinda becaue secretary at the United Methodist Church in Brattleboro, Vt. in 1985. Her position there led to her involvement in the founding of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center. She became Executive Director in 1989 and grew the Drop-In Center from a small community service to a nationally recognized model for homeless advocacy. Melinda served as a Commissioner from Westminster on the Windham Regional Commission since 1995, was Vice Chair for three years, and was serving her fifth term as chair at the time of her death. In 2008, Melinda won the Housing Hero award at VHFA's statewide, biennial Vermont Housing Conference. Melinda was a much-valuled colleague, collaborating with her prtners in Vermont's housing and homelessness organizations. She was the most recent chair of the Vermont Council to End Homelessness. She also served as the Governor's appointee on the Housing and Urban Development Comsolidated Planning Committee and the Vermont Interagency Council on Homelessness. She had previously chaired the State Affordable Housing Coalition, Vermont Protection and Advocacy Board, the the Board of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. Melinda also served on the Westminster Planning Commission. Mellinda married Fred Bussino of Rockingham in September of 1998. With that marriage she gained eight more step children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; an honor and privilege that she cherished. Fred passed away in 2000 with Melinda by his side. Melinda was an activist, an advocate, a leader, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother, and a friend. She loved her regular swimming, her church activities, and time in the woods of Westminster West. Melinda was a skilled skier since childhood, a love she passed along to all of her children. Her incredible work ethic was matched only by her generosity and commitment to helping those in need. She was an amazing woman who gave selflessly to all those around her. Amongst her many great accomplishments, those she was most proud of were her children. While her life's work was for those without a voice, her greatest joy was in being a mother. Melinda is survived by a daughter, Sarah Doyle of Plainville, Conn.; a son, Joseph Doyle, of Westminster West.; a step-son, Geoff Doyle and wife, Megan, of Charlestown, Md.; a step-daughter, Liddy Doyle and husband, Alan Katzman, of Granby, Conn.; a foster daughter, Billie-Jo Wilder, of Bellows Falls; granddaughters, Reese Vigneau of Putney, Hannah and Molly Katzman of Granby, Conn.; a grandson, Myles Dakan, of Boston, Mass.; a granddaughter, Lauren Doyle, of Tulsa, Ok., a granddaughter, Rowan Doyle, of Charlestown, Md., a granddaughter, Lillianna Butler of Bellows Falls, Vt.; eight additional stepchildren, 35 step-grandchildren, and numerous step-great grandchildren as well as many cousins, beloved friends, and devoted colleagues. She was predeceased by her husband, Louis Doyle; husband, Fred J. Bussino; a stepdaughter; and her parents, Grace and Sharon Holden. Calling hours will be at KER-WESTERLUND FUNERAL HOME on Friday, March 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. A service to celebrate Melinda's life will be held Saturday, March 10, at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Brattleboro. A brief offering to benefit the Brattleboro Drop-In Center will be accepted during the service. A reception will follow at the Masonic Temple next to the church. Interment will be private for family and close friends. The family requests that in keeping with Melinda's wishes, donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center, 60 South Main St., Brattleboro, VT 05301. Attn: In Memory of Melinda.

Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Mar. 7, 2012
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