I encountered my first “aptronym” in the summer of 1972 at Camp Mar-Lin in Windsor, Connecticut. It belonged to an infirmary nurse named Sandy Sheets. My next aptronym — that is, a name aptly suited to a person’s profession, hobby or other distinguishing feature — was a Scarsdale, New York, dentist named Lou Smoler. Some people, it seems, were born into their professions, while the rest of us muddle through our lives with names that hold no particular meaning.
Incidentally, the only time my own name ever held aptronymic promise was when I submitted a spec script to Paramount Studios for the 1990s TV series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Executive Producer Jeri Taylor wrote me back, saying she couldn’t pass up a script written by someone named Picard. (Alas, Captain Jean-Luc Picard never spoke any of my words.)
Over the last five years, I’ve compiled, with the diligent help of other Seven Days staffers, a list of people who may have fallen victim to “nominative determinism,” that is, making life choices that were influenced by their names.
Richard Watts — spokesperson for Vermont Electric Company (VELCO)
Phil Tower — Operations manager for WTKG-AM radio
Michael Pollan — gardener and author of The Botany of Desire
Fern Lickfield — local gardener and “flower essence practitioner”
Philip Duane Johncock — author of The Sexual Ecstasy Workbook
John Buck — deer biologist at Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee — knitter and knitting author
Kevin Bean — award-winning Burlington vegetable gardener
Nancy Baggett — author of The 60-Minute Bread Book and other baking books
Franklin Bushwhack — president of the National RVers Association
David Provost —vice-president for finances at Champlain College
Oliver Gardner — owner of Four Seasons Garden Center
Carmen Or — director of Vermont International Opera Festival
Steve Springer — Randolph water activist and president of Water First!
Jonathan Wood — Vermont Commissioner of Forests and Parks
Gregory Good — quality control engineer at MSA-Newport
Angel Collins — director of hospice and palliative care at the Visiting Nurses Association
Lee Wood — executive director, Building for Social Responsibility
Steve Almond — best-selling author of the book Candy Freak
Tyler Cabot — author of 2007 Esquire magazine article on cheeses
Anne Semans — marketing director for Babeland, a chain of sex shops in Seattle, Washington
Eric Love — director of the East Texas Abstinence Program
Suzanne Marie Butts — repeat offender accused of stealing toilet paper from a central Iowa courthouse
J. Manlove — researcher with the National Campaign to End Teen Pregnancy
Angel Colon — Vermonter convicted of smuggling heroin in 2007
E.L. Blood — owner of West Groton, Massachusetts, slaughterhouse
Cynthia Jean Forehand — anatomy professor at the University of Vermont
Running Deer —“Member-at-Large,” Vermont Protection and Advocacy board of directors
Kevin Lawrence: Thanks, 7-Days, for sharing these stories. We who loved Jordan Smith agree that he deserves a special place…
Dina Senesac: Thank you. I didn't know any of these people personally. But I truly enjoyed celebrating their life. amazing…
Sara Trimplekt: Debbie Reynolds as well, but i'm sure you went to press before that.
Don Eggert: Thanks for the correction @ghoop and @Dan Barnes. Lemmy Kilmister did indeed die on December 28, 2015. Perhaps…
ghoop: You forgot Scotty Moore, and Lemmy died in 2015.