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Vermont man’s forgotten ashes finally laid to rest beside wife

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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FAIR HAVEN, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont man was finally laid to rest beside his wife on Friday, nearly 40 years after he died, all thanks to the hard work of some strangers.

We told you a few months ago about the discovery of an urn at a local law office, and how the Fair Haven Historical Society got to work trying to figure out whose remains were inside.

They determined the ashes were those of Thomas Hamilton, a pilot who lived in Middlebury for many years, making his living by spraying orchards for local farmers.

“I think this is quintessential small-town Vermont. Something happens, especially in Fair Haven, the community came together, they found a solution, and they are helping this man. This is what happens in small towns in Vermont,” Fair Haven Town Manager Joe Gunter said.

Thomas Hamilton died in 1985. His wife, Bea, followed a few years later in 1990.

After being apart for 37 years, the couple was reunited Friday. Many of those who attended the ceremony didn’t even know Thomas and Bea, but Heather Bellanca grew up down the street from the couple.

“I could just hang out there and eat food that they let me have that I couldn’t have at my house, and watch TV and draw and play with her toy teddy bear and her jewelry. And so I just have very fond memories of them,” said Bellanca of Salem, New York.

Bellanca says she stayed in contact with Tom and Bea and even invited them to her wedding.

Bea and Tom Hamilton
Bea and Tom Hamilton(Courtesy: Heather Bellanca)

She’s now in the process of writing an illustrated memoir including Tom and Bea, making sure they’re not forgotten.

“It feels great to have a chance to really recognize them because I feel like they are sort of nonentities in the world and they should be remembered, and all these people coming out to do this and, yeah, it really makes me feel good,” Bellanca said.

Others talked about Tom being a great guy, taking local kids up in his plane and always having time for a good joke.

The historical society says they will keep looking for clues about Tom and Bea’s life.

Reporter Katharine Huntley: Is this a fitting end finally for Thomas?

Lorraine Brown/Fair Haven Historical Society: I think so, I think it’s probably nicer than if he would have been buried before because all the attention is on him. And I hope she’s glad to see him.

At the gravesite next to his wife, Tom will have a marker donated by a local company RMG Stone so he is never forgotten again.

Katharine Huntley: Why do this for someone you didn’t know?

Lorraine Brown: Why not... It’s just part of the way we are here. We take care of each other.

Related Story:

Fair Haven man’s urn hidden away for decades

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