posted at 8:42 am Mon Feb 1st, 2021 by (WherezIt_Staff)
BISBEE, Ethan 5/16/1928-1/10/2021 Born fourth of six by Dorothy Winsor Bisbee and Elliot Walter Bisbee in Concord, MA, Ethan was well educated at home alongside his five siblings: Ricky, Alice, John, Joyce, and Tom.
He attended the Fenn School and graduated from the Middlesex School, where his father taught, in 1946. He continued his studies at Harvard receiving his A.B. Government cum laude in 1950, and A.M. History 1961. Typically and thankfully he shared these advantages teaching diligently at Milton Academy from 1953-1993. Ethan married Mary Susan Gongaware on Sep. 10, 1955 and they were delighted to raise Ann Scheffler, Liz Bisbee, and Fred Bisbee. Arriving just before the Depression, too young for service in the second world war, Ethan was definitive of his generation. He valued thrift, reserve, responsibility, community; citizenship is a job not a grant. Though born in the flatlands of Massachusetts his heart surely belongs to his family home, Fisher Hill, in Vermont. This is where so much family history, and little else, takes place. Most summer evenings would find him there, 'holding court', if not literally grasping a tennis racquet or croquet mallet, then perhaps a drink on his lovely terraced porch. Summer days were well spent as Ethan could leave few tasks untried, fewer unfinished, and he was brave enough to share them. Whether putting up firewood or vegetables, advancing a trench, argument, or stonewall, the hours passed easily and richly in Ethan's cheerful presence. At Milton Academy Ethan started somewhat green, with great colleagues, and learned the job on the job. He never stopped learning and so excelled. He taught history, both U.S. and World, brought current events into discussion, and tried to draw out the reluctant speaker or doubting student. Always a coach, long an advisor, he went on to teach economics and to chair the history department. Committed to the notion that one must 'earn his keep', and trusting himself enough to think he had something to offer, Ethan contributed much. He sought opportunities to meet students he might never teach: attending a tea, lecture, or performance, supervising a film, proctoring an exam, or simply timing his crossing of the street. Amazingly, looking back, Ethan and Sue even housed students, outnumbered at times. Ethan loved his wonderful office with its doors opening to hallway and classroom, and often welcomed a visitor with his long-faced, toothy grin. In retirement Ethan and Sue spent winters in Westerly, RI, summers in Fayston, VT. For years both enjoyed each other, the longer growing season, and they led active fit lives. Ethan volunteered: maintaining woodland trails in Westerly, working in the woodshop and its adjacent lumber yard at Mystic Seaport, researching and archiving for the Vermont Historical Society. He kept well informed and helped raise four much loved grandchildren. After his wife Sue died, acutely aware of her vast absence and his many deficiencies, Ethan began life at the retirement community of Wake Robin in Shelburne, VT. He was much welcomed there by many, greatly and repeatedly in many small ways. A year later Ethan lost his eldest daughter Ann to cancer and though he worked through much grief and continued to stay involved, he felt much older. He died quickly and fulfilled. Ethan is survived by his brother John Bisbee and wife Brenda, his brother Tom Bisbee and wife Martha, and his sister-in-law Emily Patten. He leaves several cousins, seventeen nephews, ten nieces, his son-in-law Ed Scheffler, his daughter Liz Bisbee, his son and daughter-in-law Fred and Lisa Bisbee, and grandchildren Ted Scheffler, Ethan Scheffler, Eloise Bisbee, and Quinn Bisbee. Much thanks to John Woodruff of Perkins-Parker Funeral Home of WATERBURY, VT. Though no service is planned, the family will gather to celebrate Ethan when conditions permit. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests gifts could be directed to a worthy local need, or for those who knew him through Milton Academy he would probably most wish to support the faculty or their development. The address remains 170 Centre St., Milton, MA 02186.
Middlesex, VT 05602 (Set as Local)
Fayston, VT 05673 (Set as Local)
Waterbury, VT 05676 (Set as Local)