Waller MacNiven Conard

Friday, May 17, 2013
Vershire, Vt. — Mac Conard died peacefully at Helen Porter Nursing Home in Middlebury, Vt. on Friday, May 10, 2013, which was the 51st anniversary of the day he and his late wife Doris arrived in Vershire to start The Mountain School.

Mac was born in Bridgeport, Conn., on April 17, 1925, the youngest of four sons of Frederick U. Conard and Julia Hand Conard. He graduated from Kingswood School in 1943, and enrolled at Yale. World War II interrupted his education, and after serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the Fleet Minesweeper USS Raven, he returned to Yale, graduating in 1948. After briefly pursuing his passions for boatbuilding and yacht design, he began a career in the machine tool industry.

In 1951, he met and married Doris Emerson, a secondary school teacher from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Mac was dissatisfied with his career choice, and he joined Doris in making education their life work. He enrolled in the apprentice teacher program at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Mass., and he and Doris taught for five years at the Putney School in Putney, Vt. Mac then returned to Yale and earned his Master’s in conservation at the School of Forestry. Inspired by their experience at Putney, Mac and Doris embarked on the great venture of their lives, starting The Mountain School, a private secondary school in Vershire, in 1962. Mac and Doris raised their three sons in Vershire, and served as co-directors of The Mountain School until 1982. The Mountain School continues to operate as a junior semester program run by Milton Academy of Milton, Mass.

Mac was active in the community, serving for many years as Vershire’s moderator, as a member of the Town’s first planning commission, and as the Town’s representative to the Two Rivers Regional Planning Commission. He was a talented woodworker, and a hoarder of fine lumber. He had a passion for wooden boats, and for renovating the 1815 farmhouse that he and Doris shared for 25 years. The love and devotion he showed in caring for Doris as she succumbed to dementia was an inspiration to all who knew him.

Doris predeceased him in 2009. Mac is survived by his three sons and their families: Nathaniel Conard and Brenda Hamm, and Rebecca and Ben of Basking Ridge, N.J.; David and Carol Conard, and Lindsey, Ian and Addie Johnson of Shelburne, Vt.; and Peter Conard and Laura Appell, and Sam and Eli of Seattle, Wash. His legacy includes the countless former students whose lives he enriched over the years.

Mac’s family is grateful to the wonderful staff and volunteers at Helen Porter Nursing Home, for the joy and support they gave him in the last years of his life.

There are no visiting hours. A memorial service will be held later in the summer at The Mountain School in Vershire Center. In lieu of flowers, people may wish to make contributions in Mac’s memory to The Mountain School Program of Milton Academy or to Vershire Fire and Rescue, Inc.

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