The recently published book Legendary Locals of Burlington would figure to have plenty of UVM people in its pages. Still, flip through the volume and you come away impressed at the numbers of UVM alumni and faculty included, a reminder of how integral the university is to the life of the city both historically and today.
You can start with the book’s author, UVM alumnus Robert Resnik, a guy who deserves his own legend status as a familar face at the Fletcher Free Library and Vermont folk and children’s musician. And it goes from there—close to thirty UVM connections by my count. Legendary Locals of days long gone include Ira Allen, John Converse, Zadock Thompson, John Dewey, Frederick Billings, Grace Coolidge, Horatio Nelson Jackson, and Effie Moore. Legends who have taught on the UVM faculty: Larry McCrorey, Bertha Terrill, Ed Feidner, Sara Holbrook, Ken Rothwell, Will Miller, Francis Colburn, Tom Bassett and Raul Hilberg. Resnik’s picks for alumni who have made their mark on Burlington: Dudley Davis, Mark Bove, Jim Lampman, Steve Conant, Pamela Polston, James Kochalka, Ron Krupp, Madeleine Kunin, and the guys in Phish.
It’s hard to argue with any of Robert’s choices, but easy to find others worthy of a place in the book if there’s a sequel. Talking with my friend Mark Madigan (a UVM alum and former faculty member), we agreed that the late John Cunavelis—known around town as “Johnny C”—is deserving of local legend status. A birdlike, wiry man, he was a fixture at UVM sports events, on Church Street, and working out and just hanging out at the Burlington Y. Johnny C, a UVM alumnus, had been a sportswriter for the Burlington newspaper back in the day and was always eager to talk sports or local news.