A service for Edward Norris III, affectionately known by family, friends and caregivers as “Lar,” who died peacefully at his home at Mertens House on June 3, was held on June 8 at the home of Sara and Chip Brettell.
Lar’s love of his family was as apparent as his love of good stories, classical jazz, and good jokes. His face lit up at the mention of his children and their families: Sara Brettell, her husband, Chip, and their children Ben and Julia, and great-grand daughter, Maya, Ned and his partner, Kami, Dave and his wife, Melanie, and their children Nate and Matt, Sam and his partner, Cady, Julia and her husband, Rob, and their son, Oliver.
Lar felt most at home in the Adirondacks, and passed his love of their streams, lakes and mountains on to his children, where he introduced them to hiking, camping and canoeing. Respect for the outdoors and a deep connection with natural beauty was an important part of his strong bond with his daughter Lee, who died in 1977.
He was born in Utica, New York, son of Edward and Charlotte, Lar attended Brooks School, where he rowed crew and played squash. He maintained many close friendships from the school until his passing. He stayed active in sports and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Trinity College, and served as a naval pilot during WWII. In 1944, he married Sara Cree Smith and later moved to Farmington, Connecticut where he worked for Stanley Tools before forming his own company making precision tools. Starting in Windsor Locks, Connecticut he later moved Tool Tech to Lebanon, New Hampshire. His passion for inventing tools and toys led him to design and market a rowing rig, complete with a sliding seat, which allowed users to row a canoe in much the same way a crew athlete would row a shell. Following this venture he created Fileski, the original ski tuning kit, which he designed with the help of several young ski racers he fondly referred to as his “filing cabinet.” It was clear that the filing cabinet and Fileski were less about business than about Lar maintaining connections with his children and other young, energetic people.
In 1987 Lar was remarried to Sarah (Cinders) Mallory Cheney. The couple enjoyed their communities of Landgrove and Manchester and their travels to England and Portugal before Cinders’ passing in January of 2013.
Lar’s capacity for gratitude each day and his laughter will be missed, as will his jazz, his stories, and his deep appreciation for his children, friends and caregivers.
In lieu of flowers, people may wish to make contributions in Lar’s memory to the Mertens House Memorial Gift Fund, which was established to enhance residents’ lives. Mertens House, 73 River Street, Woodstock, 05091.
This obituary first appeared in the July 10, 2014 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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