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Friday, September 22, 2023
11:00am - 12:00pm (Eastern time)
Karlene Rae Dussault, our beloved wife, sister, mom, and friend, passed away peacefully on September 12 following a courageous, seven-month battle with cancer, surrounded by her loved ones. Karlene was a born teacher, known for her love, patience, and propensity to see the best in people.
Karlene was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on July 18, 1950. She graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy in 1968, and married her life-long love, Robert Dussault, also of St. Johnsbury, on September 6, 1969.
Karlene was a remarkable spouse and mother. She cultivated and maintained a loving and welcoming home on Pleasant Street, where her family thrived for many years. Karlene enjoyed planting flowers in the front and back yards, reading on their screened porches, going out to lunch with her husband, siblings, and “the cousins,” and conversing with her sons on a wide range of topics.
Karlene was a doting grandmother who unapologetically spoiled her grandchildren: Brody, Frankie, and Sawyer. Going to “Grammy’s house” was always a welcome treat. Eager, wide-eyed kids were invariably met with hugs, kisses, and—if lucky—a freshly baked apple pie or plate of chocolate chip cookies. (They were often lucky.) Grammy would read to them for as long as they were willing to sit still, and would even get on the floor to play with toy trains or cars with them once they were ready for a more kinesthetic experience.
Karlene excelled at everything she did. She attended O’Brien’s School of Cosmetology in Burlington upon her graduation from high school, and worked at various salons in the St. Johnsbury area in her younger years. (She continued cutting Bob and the boys’ hair up until last month.) As a young mother, she balanced childrearing with homemaking and hairdressing. In the 1980’s, Karlene added college classes to her plate, a move that some saw as unrealistic and perhaps foolhardy. However, she distinguished herself as a top “non-traditional” student at Lyndon State College and, eventually, a beloved English Language Arts Teacher and Special Educator at the St. Johnsbury School. Her former students describe her as kind, patient, and loving. Says one: “[Karlene] was one of my favorite teachers. I remember that she cared about me as a person. She has such a lovely, comforting voice! I loved when she’d read to us.” It is a testament to her power as a parent and teacher that both of her sons went on to build careers as high school English teachers.
After retirement, Karlene continued her work in the community, most notably as the Volunteer Coordinator at the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center. She loved the volunteer staff at H&HC, and she felt fortunate to grow up and raise her family in a town steeped in a history of hard work and self-reliance. Volunteering with others who share the same values gave her a renewed sense of purpose and the feeling that her life experiences mattered.
Karlene’s survivors include her beloved husband of 53 years, Robert Dussault, her children, Christopher and his wife, Amy Huang, of St. Johnsbury, and Mathew and his wife, Beverly Lauchner, of Randolph, Vermont, her sister, Carol Anne Perkins and her husband, Dennis, of St. Johnsbury, and her brother, Ronald Skinner and his wife, Pat, of Richmond, Vermont. Karlene is also survived by her three favorite people in the world, her grandchildren, Brody, Frankie, and Sawyer. Finally, she is survived by her many cousins, several of whom she shared monthly lunches with at local restaurants.
Karlene was predeceased by her parents, Ray Skinner and Eleanor (Wheeler) Skinner.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center and/or the American Cancer Society.
A funeral mass will be held on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Church in St. Johnsbury. The mass will be followed by a brief reception and a private internment at Mt. Cavalry Cemetery. Memories and condolences can be shared at www.saylesfh.com
Karlene’s family will miss her profoundly. She was unassuming, warm, and unpretentious. Her love was unconditional. She was one-of-a-kind. May we all know a love like Karlene’s.