Obituary: Stephen Hooper Gelatt, 1939-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Stephen Hooper Gelatt, 1939-2022 

Jericho man loved travel, discussing world affairs, and enjoying Vermont's scenery and seasons

Stephen Gelatt - COURTESY
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  • Stephen Gelatt
Stephen Hooper Gelatt, 83, of Jericho, Vt., husband of Julia Blake, died on April 25, 2022, at home with his wife beside him. He had been in declining health for several months. He was born in Fort Erie, Ontario. Canada, and was proud of his Canadian citizenship. Most of his youth was spent in Central Lake, Mich., where he grew up with five siblings on a small farm. He graduated from high school in 1956 and remained in contact with childhood friends, attending several school reunions, the last in 2021. Steve attended a Bible college; then, for 10 years, he was minister in several churches. During the 1960s, Steve ran a coffeehouse in the inner city of Pittsburgh, Pa.

As an adult student, Steve graduated from the University of Maine with the Highest Distinction, his degree in philosophy. He was a Trustee Scholar and earned a Master's degree, also at UMaine Orono, in liberal studies. Steve was president of the Graduate Student Association for two years, ran the computer lab for the College of Education and was associate statistician for the Office of Institutional Research. He then taught at Job Corps in Maine before moving to Vermont in 1990.

Here he worked for Vermont Student Assistance Corporation for several years, followed by part-time teaching at the maximum-security prison. After 2001, Steve applied for a U.S. Customs position and graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Center in Georgia — probably the oldest person to successfully complete that two-month course! Afterward, he worked on the U.S.-Canadian border as a Customs Inspector for a while.

In 1991, Steve married Julia Blake, and they enjoyed many years together on their Jericho land, which they named Lilac Mountain Farm. They raised Jacob sheep and sold breeding stock around the Northeast. The beautiful Vermont scenery and seasons were a great joy to Steve. At various times, he and Julia also made a home for horses, cows, goats, pigs, llamas and beloved dogs. Steve created the farm and managed the fields and animals, doing much of the vet work, machine repairs and haying. He trained several boys in farmwork, always emphasizing safety, and these young men became good friends. Steve was an ideas person who liked planning projects. He designed the barn and the extension to our home; working with the builders and doing some of the work himself was a pleasure.

Steve had a wide range of skills and experiences. He enjoyed traveling with Julia, especially in Europe, where they spent extended time in rural Britain, their favorite place. Discussing world affairs with Europeans was a real pleasure for him. In their Jericho home, they were hosts for several years for Servas, an international peace/hospitality organization, in which they welcomed guests from Europe and the U.S. In addition, many friends and family enjoyed gathering in Steve and Julia’s warm and welcoming home for a visit or a potluck supper.

In Vermont, Steve joined the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington and remained a strong supporter of the church’s social action agenda. He was deeply interested in politics and loved discussing ideas, big questions and ethical issues. An avid reader, he devoured many varieties of books, from philosophy to poetry and fiction, as well as daily reading several newspapers online from around the world.

In his last months, Steve was cared for by a wonderful hospice team, especially nurse Sandra Harms. He also received caring medical help for many years from Dr. Charles MacLean. All of that is much appreciated and valued.

He is survived by his wife, Julia Blake; and by two sons, Stephen W. (Lois) of Richford, Vt., and Michael (Maria) of Crown Point, N.Y.; as well as by a “surrogate” son, Jake O’Neal, of Bolton, Vt. Two beloved granddaughters, Mia O’Reilly (Trevor) and Michelle Gele, also survive him, as well as two great-granddaughters, several dear nieces and many friends. Steve was predeceased by his sister Ruth and his brother-in-law (and close friend) Stan Miller, as well as his brother Paul. Three brothers survive him: Peter and Dan of Michigan and Jim of Washington State.

A memorial service celebrating Steve’s life will be held in a few weeks. Exact date, place and time will be posted on gregorycremation.com. Instead of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to the University of Vermont Home Health & Hospice, Habitat for Humanity or the Heifer Project.
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