Westminster, Colorado – Marian Santos, 74, passed away at home with her children by her side on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.
She was born April 11, 1945, at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, CT to Alice and Mario Ramos. Marian grew up in Naugatuck, CT surrounded by a large extended family. Her father owned his own company fabricating structural steel for buildings – the steel frameworks that are the skeletons of a building. She worked in her father’s shop as a teenager. Marian would later say, “It was not fun, but I liked the money that I earned!”
After graduating from Naugatuck High School in 1963, she headed north to the rural green mountains of Vermont, enrolling at Johnson State College to study education. Vermont would become Marian’s true home and the place where her heart always remained. While at Johnson, she met Charles Usher whom she would marry in 1968.
They built a saltbox house down a country road in another rural part of Vermont, Ferrisburgh, in the early 70’s. Marian received her Master’s in Education from the University of Vermont during this time. She would spend her professional life as an educator in Addison and Rutland counties, nurturing and inspiring generations of schoolchildren from the early 70’s through the mid-00’s. She taught grades 1, 3 and multi-age 3-4, and grade 4 in Addison and Vergennes. After completing an additional degree in school leadership, she went on to be principal at Northeast Elementary in Rutland and associate principal at Mary Hogan School in Middlebury.
A holistic approach to educating children was always at the forefront of everything Marian did as a teacher. From holding yearly flea markets with her students to benefit the humanitarian organization CARE and Chinese New Year luncheons (all with food prepared by Marian and her students) to weekly Class Star celebrations where each student would pick friends to bake a treat to share with the class, Marian created a classroom where creativity and empathy for others were valued, very often through cooking! In her own words, “Working with young children has always been exciting and fun! My favorite things are to cook with my classes, put on plays, study poetry and learn about other cultures.”
Marian was not only a passionate advocate for children but for her fellow teachers. She worked to advance their profession through mentoring colleagues and continuing and sharing her own professional development through trainings including Wilson Reading, Everyday Mathematics, and Cooperative Learning Methods. Marian was an active member of the VT NEA, repeatedly advocating for improved pay and benefits and becoming co-president of her local association.
Physical fitness and the mind-body connection were important to Marian throughout her life. She enjoyed walking and started a walking club while teaching at Vergennes Elementary. She dabbled in yoga in the 70’s and even taught her young daughter a form of conscious relaxation/yoga nidra in the 80’s that she had read about a decade before. Marian’s sport of choice was tennis. She took lessons and even had Arthur Ashe compliment her serve during a tennis clinic held in Vermont in the 1980’s. She loved attending professional tennis tournaments that were held in Stowe and Stratton during this time, giving her the opportunity to see iconic players of the era compete. And with increasing options for yoga classes and trainings that emerged in the 90’s, Marian started doing yoga regularly, culminating in studying with Peggy Cappy in New Hampshire. She would go on to hold yoga classes in her new home in Colorado. In her mid-60’s, Marian would start weight-lifting, developing an intensive regime while working with a coach at a local Vermont gym. But Marian’s first love was dance. Her earliest and truest wish for herself was to have been a dancer.
Marian loved reading, cooking, baking, and eating out at great restaurants. She enjoyed art and took classes early in her life in drawing and oil painting. She also appreciated architecture, particularly historic homes and buildings in New England and especially in the historic neighborhoods of Burlington, VT. Her love of history extended to antiquing and going to flea markets to search for vintage treasures. She had a keen eye for spotting unique and valuable finds during these visits – even at one point carrying a heavy walnut drop-leaf table through a flea market with her mother-in-law!
Spending time with her family and cats were very important and wonderful times for her. Although she did not grow up with them, Marian had cats in her life from the time she was married throughout the rest of her life. Ms., Scamper, Ewie, Fred, Prince, Miss Kitty, Callie, Max, Comfort, and LeLe provided love and comfort throughout the decades and found a compassionate and loving owner in Marian.
In 2008, Marian made the trip of a lifetime to Portugal to explore her family’s heritage. She moved to Colorado in 2012 to be near her new grandchildren who were absolutely the loves of her life.
Marian is survived by her children Matthew Usher, Blythe Usher, Electra Usher Peckham, son-in-law Dan Peckham, grandchildren Ava and Charlie, and former husband Charles Usher, brothers Tom, John, and Dan Ramos and sister Alice (Ramos) Fisher and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and good friends. She is predeceased by her parents and her brother Mario Ramos, Jr.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Homeward Bound, the Addison County Humane Society in Middlebury, Vermont. https://www.homewardboundanimals.org/
A gathering to celebrate Marian's life will be held at UVM Alumni House at 61 Summit Street in Burlington, VT on Saturday, May 30 from 1pm-5:30pm. All who knew her are invited to attend and to bring stories and remembrances to share with friends and family.
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me;
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on the shadow’d wilds;
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the runaway sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;
Missing me one place, search another;
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.
-From Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Addison County’s Humane Society