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Thetford grocer and volunteer Mike Pomeroy dies at 52

  • Owner Mike Pomeroy is photographed at Baker's General Store in Post Mills, Vt., on Aug. 7, 2007. Pomeroy worked as a stock boy in a grocery store when he was younger and said it was the best job he's ever had. "I knew that before I turned 40 I wanted to be retired and own a general store in Vermont," he said. (Valley News - Nicholas Richer) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Thetford coach Mike Pomeroy and his assistants huddle up with the team late in their game with Whitcomb-Rochester in Thetford, Vt., on May 24, 2018. Whitchester won, 20-1. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/13/2020 10:18:17 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 10:17:30 PM

THETFORD — Mike Pomeroy, who fulfilled a boyhood dream by buying three small-town general stores and also threw himself, with gusto, into the civic life of his adopted hometown of Thetford, died Monday morning after a period of declining health. He was 52.

Pomeroy had battled leukemia for about a decade and overcame fungal-caused pneumonia earlier this year but appears to have suffered a heart attack at his home, his brother Mark said.

In 2004, Pomeroy and his wife Mary Dan bought three stores along Route 113 — the Village Store in Thetford Center, Baker’s General Store in Post Mills and B&B Cash Market in West Fairlee.

Soon after, he became an active volunteer.

Within three years, he was on several committees, including the Thetford Hill Building Improvement Society, the Thetford Broadband Committee and a town common board; serving as a justice of the peace; and helping to coach his two daughters, Maggie and Michaela, on soccer and softball teams.

A few years later, he and Mary Dan had established themselves as mainstays of the Post Mills Labor Day Parade, and he also was elected to the Selectboard, to which he had just returned last March. (One secret to his electoral success was a sign on a tractor reading “I like Mike.”)

Pomeroy also recently served as coach of the softball team at Thetford Academy.

“I just think he was a very active person, and it was because he loved the community,” said Mark Pomeroy, who lives in Springfield, Vt.

State Rep. Jim Masland, D-Thetford, said the Pomeroys had helped keep their stores as essential “gathering places” for the community.

“Mike had dedicated himself to our town for a long time,” Masland said. “It’s difficult to think of the town without him.”

A military brat who wound up in Springfield after his late father Gary took a job as hospital administrator there, Pomeroy graduated from Springfield High School and went on to the University of Vermont. He owned a stake in a computer servicing company along the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but he and his wife decided to return to Vermont in 2004.

Pomeroy had worked as a stockboy at a small market as a teen, and loved the social aspect of the job.

“It was the most fun job that I ever had. I loved talking to people,” Pomeroy, who normally wore shorts at work, told the Valley News in 2007.

Thetford Police Chief Mike Evans said Pomeroy, who was on the board that hired Evans almost five years ago, was both fair and fiscally minded.

“You always knew where you stood with him,” Evans said.

His employees also felt he watched out for them. Melanie Durkee, the Baker’s manager, said she and her sister had worked for Pomeroy for about 15 years, and he had supported them through family crises, including when her son required a kidney transplant and she was the donor.

Mike and Mary Dan threw a big fundraiser for the Durkees and also held her job open as she recuperated.

“They were always there for us. … He cared about us,” Durkee said. “You don’t get that a lot anymore.”

Thetford resident Alexis Jetter, a liberal and active Democrat in town, said she enjoyed her regular encounters at the store with Pomeroy, a Main Street businessman. She was in his store often, as he carried Speeder & Earl’s coffee, a small batch roastery out of Burlington.

Though they agreed on “virtually nothing,” she said by email on Monday, their friendship was proof that politics doesn’t have to divide people.

“I even voted for him once, telling him he was the first Republican I’d ever pulled the lever for. I also told him, shortly afterwards, that I felt like cutting that arm off,” Jetter said. “But he just laughed and so did I.”

Pomeroy carried on his work and civic duties despite his health problems. In April he posted on Facebook that he was getting a third round of chemotherapy in a clinical trial involving two drugs.

“Already had my infusion, now just sitting around all day waiting for blood draws … the joy of being a lab rat #helpingtofindthecure.” he wrote.

About 30 people attended a selectboard meeting Monday night that started out with a moment of silence to honor Pomeroy.

“Mike was one of the best-known and community-minded residents of our town,” said Selectboard member Li Shen, who read a statement from the board. “He was fair minded and paid attention to details.”

Mark Pomeroy said funeral arrangements were pending, with his brother’s wishes firmly in mind.

“Mike wanted a big party, so it will be a big party,” he said.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com or 603-727-3217.




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