POMFRET — A memorial service is to be planned for a later date for Stuart Dorman Menning was found dead in his home March 7, two days before his 69th birthday.
Stuart was born in New Jersey on March 9, 1945, son of the late Frances Dorman Menning and the late Frederick H. Menning.
Stuart moved with his family to their Pomfret farm in the late 1940’s, attended local schools and graduated from WUHS in 1964. Wentworth Institute trained him in airframe and power plant maintenance playing on his intense involvement in machines, mechanics and tinkering. As a small boy he built a working radio in a small plastic soap dish and got into deep trouble fussing with the farm tractor.
Thomas, a tiger cat, spent his days in close company with the boy usually dangling from Stuart’s arms. His sister was overheard remarking to a friend that Stuart was “ half cat and half tractor” accurately reflecting his earliest childhood interests.
During high school Stuart joined the ski team coached by Mr. Wakeman and competed in all phases of Nordic and Alpine, which eventually led him to volunteer with the Suicide Six Ski Patrol, which he did for years. The Silver Six he won, back in the days when extremely skilled or overly brave skiers vied for the Silver Six pin by basically schussing down the Face of Six to beat a set time, was one of his most precious possessions. The other was the ‘69 Barracuda 340S he drove from his various jobs in Boston, Philadelphia and Schenectady back to ski Six or to attend car races.
Stuart’s excellent touch for the mechanical led him to work in the pit crew at Cecil Co Dragway, MD, for drag racing star “Big Daddy” Don Garlitz. Later when he lived in Vermont he worked with Kirby Hazen on other racecars and mechanical projects.
In the off season from skiing Stuart rode motorcycles through Vermont on roads and byways mostly with friends until a collision with a truck on the South Road from Woodstock prompted him to switch to road bicycles. There he discovered a delightful amount of tinkering.
The unique sense of good humor he sported and a quick response to help anyone earned Stuart many friends so that on the streets in Woodstock at Six or entering almost any bar, restaurant, garage or business in the Woodstock area there was an outflow of greetings to Stuart.
Following successful surgery for brain cancer and some later complications including loss of balance Stuart began to lose his hearing and this began to cut him off from his group of friends, though they continued to support him as they could.
Stuart is survived by two brothers, Fritz (Helena), of Pleasantview, Utah and Bill (Joyce), of Huntington; one sister Fran Loftus (Patrick), of Lancaster Co, Penn. Their Uncle Stuart was a favorite part of the childhood memories of six nieces and two nephews; one remembers riding with Uncle Stuart on his Bultaco motorcycle and his bulldozer. Several remember his delight in the deep powder skiing in Utah and were amazed when he ate his first corn dog there thinking it was a Utah culinary invention. Some would remark on his occasional curmudgeonly moments but all remember him fondly, still enjoying repeating his puns and jokes and recalling his anagrams.
This obituary first appeared in the March 13, 2014 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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