Stuart Thurber Obituary, Death – On August 27th, beneath the gentle sway of Zinnias outside his window and the contented grazing of milking cows in the nearby pasture, Stuart Johnson Thurber peacefully passed away in the comforting embrace of his home, surrounded by his family.
Stuart, an astute farmer, esteemed conservationist, and dedicated civic leader, played an integral role in the Windham County community, tending to Lilac Ridge Farm, which had been his cherished home for 84 years. Born on November 5, 1938, in Brattleboro, Stuart’s connection to agriculture was nurtured from a young age.
His early involvement in 4H and farm work on his family’s homestead laid the foundation for a lifelong passion. His dedication was evident even at the age of 10 when he famously burned his first sugaring pan because he was called in for dinner. Stuart’s education continued at Brattleboro Union High School, where he served as an officer in the FFA and supported his family’s dairy farm by delivering milk to the Hillside Dairy Creamery on his way to school.
Stuart pursued higher education at the University of Vermont, earning a degree in Animal Science. During his time at the university, he became a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, played cornet in the band, and forged lasting friendships within Vermont’s agricultural community.
In 1960, Stuart returned to the family farm, dedicating himself to making Lilac Ridge Farm a modern, diversified dairy farm. On August 7, 1965, he married Beverley Evans from Guilford, establishing a partnership that not only cultivated a thriving farm but also nurtured a loving family.
Throughout his agricultural career, Stuart’s influence extended beyond the farm’s boundaries. He served as a director for the Agway cooperative and the Northampton Cooperative Auction. However, his most enduring legacy may be his contributions to land conservation in Brattleboro and the state of Vermont. He was instrumental in the creation of local tax stabilization for farmland in Brattleboro, a measure that continues to protect the town’s working farmland. Appointed by Governor Madeleine Kunin in 1987, Stuart served on the first Vermont Housing and Conservation board, advocating for affordable housing and farmland protection. His visionary leadership continues to shape Vermont today.
In addition to his civic contributions, Stuart was an active member of his faith community, serving as a Sunday school superintendent and Elder at the West Brattleboro Baptist church.
In his later years, Stuart embraced Lilac Ridge Farm’s transition into organic production and explored new technology to manage grass-based dairy. He also participated in the Windham Regional Woodlands Association, remaining curious about forestry practices.
While Stuart may have embraced a version of “retirement,” it mainly involved attending his grandchildren’s various athletic events, where he cheered wholeheartedly for their achievements. Stuart’s enduring love for his family, community, and agriculture has left an indelible mark that will be cherished for generations to come.
Stuart is survived by his devoted wife, Beverley Evans Thurber, to whom he was married for 58 years, and their children: Sara Thurber Cobb, Hanna Thurber, Ross Thurber, and Jessica Thurber Gould. Stuart was a beloved “Papa” to nine grandchildren and had the joy of meeting his first great-grandchild, Colette Thurber Mueller.
A private burial will be held, while a memorial service and gathering will take place on Sunday, September 10th, at the home of Beverley and Stuart at 30 Covey Road in Brattleboro, with parking available at Lilac Ridge Farm. In honor of Stuart, attendees are encouraged to bring a favorite dessert to share.
To memorialize Stuart’s legacy, contributions can be made in his honor to The Vermont Land Trust and Brattleboro Area Hospice.