I'd only been preparing for Lynn Corum's death for a few weeks. Even though she had been struggling with her illness for a long, long time, I never really thought the disease would win and was confident that her energy, her indomitable spirit and her strength would triumph. But I suppose her body finally called it quits, exhausted by months of chemotherapy and constant attempts at self-healing.
My confidence in her strength was supreme. She was one of the strongest, most resilient women I'd ever met. In her many community activities and projects, Lynn truly shined, bringing energy, humor and passion to everything she did.
As most people know, Lynn served on the Brattleboro Union High School School Board for nearly two decades. She was always faithful to the goal of sound educational principles and using common sense as a guide. She was not a fan of fancy abstractions or experimentation for its own sake, and was suspicious of attempts to create "pockets of perfection" in a world that she knew all too well to be imperfect.
But I only learned these things about her later, after I had already known her a few years. In fact, my first meeting with her was memorable not only because she was beautifully dressed, but because I learned that she was one of Windham County's most endangered species: A Republican woman. Since, at the time, I was working on a history of the Vermont political tradition, I was understandably eager to talk to
I also learned that she had a group of close friends who, to my great amusement, she called "the Elephants" -- people who tended to support long-forgotten principles of free enterprise, limited government and local tradition. Eventually, I got to know some of these "Elephants," many of whom are still friends, and, over time, Lynn and I also became good friends.
Shortly after that first meeting, Lynn and I started work on developing and producing a community television show. The format of the show was simple: Lynn would interview local business owners, community leaders and state officials about themselves and their activities. Together, through this experience, Lynn and I learned about camera placement, lighting and production. It was fascinating and a lot of fun. I vividly remember being in the control room -- learning how to switch between Cameras 1, 2 and 3, how to zoom in and out, how to cut to another shot -- and then, how to fuss over it all with her on FinalPro.
A few years later, I left Vermont for an extended sojourn abroad. But I tried to stay in touch with Lynn, as well as her husband, Jesse, no matter where I was. I was always delighted to hear about her latest experiments with social media, the latest book read and her take on current events.
In the past few years, anytime I found myself back in Brattleboro, I stopped by to see Lynn. I always left feeling amazed that in addition to her community involvement, she routinely seemed to be in the middle of an important home improvement project -- from building an outdoor fountain and re-planting the garden, to repainting a hallway or wallpapering an upstairs room. She did it all (and well). Nothing slowed her down -- except, in the last few years, her health.
My wife and I will always consider it our great fortune to have been able to have Lynn and Jesse as guests at our Dummerston wedding last year. To share that day with a couple that we have both admired for years -- and whose commitment to each other and faith-filled lives inspire us -- was an honor we won't forget.
We will all miss Lynn and our lives will be impoverished by her absence. Her family will, of course, miss her terribly, as will her extended network of friends. But Brattleboro, too, will be different without Lynn, as she brought such vibrancy to community affairs. She was an incredible, energetic and courageous woman who my wife and I will remember with great affection--and more than a few tears.
A. Mario Fantini lives in West Dummerston.