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Ballard Ebbett

March 7, 1931 — March 12, 2022

Bud Ebbett, a beloved teacher and an everlasting student himself, died on March 12, 2022, at the age of 91 at his home in Kirby, Vt., where he had lived since 1964.

Bud was born on March 7, 1931, to Ballard Ebbett and Lauretta Galvin Ebbett of Quincy, Mass. From an early age, fascinated by the Quincy granite quarries, he developed a deep curiosity about the outdoors and science, eventually deciding to make his life’s work the study and teaching of geology. His passion for the natural world led him west, where he hiked and rock-climbed in the Rocky Mountains, and studied geology at the University of Wyoming. When he returned East, it was not to Massachusetts but to Vermont, where he made a career teaching geology at Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University) and married Sandy Elliott of St. Johnsbury – also a geologist. They bought an old farmhouse in Kirby, which became their lifelong home. They and their three children raised much of their own food in their gardens, orchards, and pastures. Generations of Jerseys and Scottish Highlanders kept the fields and pastures open and supplied the family with milk and beef.

Though Bud was not a native Vermonter, that never stopped him from acting like one— albeit more loquacious.

The old-fashioned Yankee values of self-reliance and frugality came naturally to him. He was famous for pouring tiny servings of good wine, trying to make one bottle last for eight or 10 people. However, after that first bottle, he would generously open several more. He was quick to lend a hand when a neighbor needed help or the town needed someone to fill a local office.

His enthusiasm for the outdoors and the world around him was infectious and made his classes popular even with students who didn’t think they were interested in geology. He emphasized looking at the history of the earth as it reveals itself in the landscape and rocks that surround us, and field trips became one of his favorite methods of teaching. Later in his career, with his esteemed colleagues, he led many field trips to the American Southwest. These became a beloved tradition among Lyndon students, and continued for years after he retired. He joined the last of these Western trips when he was 89 years old.

He enjoyed a good joke. Many of his tests consisted of a bare table set with a large number of unlabeled rocks, and the students’ jobs were to identify the rocks and answer Bud’s questions about them. One former student recalls that in 1995, the class was stumped over a “mystery rock” among the different kinds. When nobody guessed the right answer, Bud revealed that it was a rock-hard brownie—laced with marijuana—left behind in the lab by a careless student 25 years before.

Bud is survived by Sandy, his wife of nearly 60 years; their sons Augustus and his wife Tosha of Whitefish, Mont.; Elliott and his wife Sachiko of Kirby; and Patrick of Portland, Ore.; six grandchildren; and seven nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents; his brother, Fred Ebbett, of Harwich, Mass; his nephew, Kyle Ebbett, of Williston, and his brother- in-law, Dr. John Elliott of Lyndonville.

An outdoor memorial service will be held this summer.

Those who wish to make a donation in his memory may direct it to the Upright Steeple Society.

Memories and condolences can be shared at

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