Melinda Bussino

April 20, 1946March 4, 2012

Melinda J. Holden Doyle Bussino 1946-2012 BRATTLEBORO Melinda J. Holden Doyle Bussino passed away peacefully at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital on Sunday morning with her daughters by her side, surrounded by love and music. Melinda was born on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts at 9:00 a.m.; the day and time her mother selected. She was the only child of Sharon V. Holden and E. Grace Fitzgerald Holden of Putney Rd., in Brattleboro, Vermont. Her parents were the proprietors of Holden Antiques. She was raised in Brattleboro and attended Brattleboro public schools. She graduated, with honors, from Brattleboro Union High School, class of 1964. She earned her Silver B in her junior year. She was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Brattleboro. In March 1967, Rev. James Young, then First Baptist's minister, chose her to deliver the sermon in the initial Youth Sunday. As a child, her parents had her learn the name of every Vermont town on its eastern border with New Hampshire and took her on a tour of those towns when she succeeded. She attended Green Mountain Junior College in Poultney, Vermont for part of a semester, but decided on an undergraduate degree so she transferred to Keene State College. She graduated from Keene State College in June 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In December 1967, she married Roderick H. O'Connor, formerly of Brattleboro. That marriage ended in divorce; however they remained close friends for life. She began her professional career working for the Strafford County NH Community Action Agency in Somersworth, N.H. as an Outreach Case Worker. During her time there, she was effective in local, state and New England-wide anti-poverty advocacy efforts. She was also promoted to a case work supervisor position with the Strafford County CAA. She married Louis Doyle on Valentine's Day, 1974 in her parent's home in Brattleboro. Melinda became step-mother to two and she and Louis had two children in the next two years. In 1976, the family moved to Westminster West to settle on the Holden family property. They built a home there that Melinda has remained in since. Louis passed away in 1980. In addition to jobs at the USPS in Putney and with Keith Banjo Tuners in Westminster, Melinda becaue secretary at the United Methodist Church in Brattleboro, Vt. in 1985. Her position there led to her involvement in the founding of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center. She became Executive Director in 1989 and grew the Drop-In Center from a small community service to a nationally recognized model for homeless advocacy. Melinda served as a Commissioner from Westminster on the Windham Regional Commission since 1995, was Vice Chair for three years, and was serving her fifth term as chair at the time of her death. In 2008, Melinda won the Housing Hero award at VHFA's statewide, biennial Vermont Housing Conference. Melinda was a much-valuled colleague, collaborating with her prtners in Vermont's housing and homelessness organizations. She was the most recent chair of the Vermont Council to End Homelessness. She also served as the Governor's appointee on the Housing and Urban Development Comsolidated Planning Committee and the Vermont Interagency Council on Homelessness. She had previously chaired the State Affordable Housing Coalition, Vermont Protection and Advocacy Board, the the Board of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. Melinda also served on the Westminster Planning Commission. Mellinda married Fred Bussino of Rockingham in September of 1998. With that marriage she gained eight more step children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; an honor and privilege that she cherished. Fred passed away in 2000 with Melinda by his side. Melinda was an activist, an advocate, a leader, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother, and a friend. She loved her regular swimming, her church activities, and time in the woods of Westminster West. Melinda was a skilled skier since childhood, a love she passed along to all of her children. Her incredible work ethic was matched only by her generosity and commitment to helping those in need. She was an amazing woman who gave selflessly to all those around her. Amongst her many great accomplishments, those she was most proud of were her children. While her life's work was for those without a voice, her greatest joy was in being a mother. Melinda is survived by a daughter, Sarah Doyle of Plainville, Conn.; a son, Joseph Doyle, of Westminster West.; a step-son, Geoff Doyle and wife, Megan, of Charlestown, Md.; a step-daughter, Liddy Doyle and husband, Alan Katzman, of Granby, Conn.; a foster daughter, Billie-Jo Wilder, of Bellows Falls; granddaughters, Reese Vigneau of Putney, Hannah and Molly Katzman of Granby, Conn.; a grandson, Myles Dakan, of Boston, Mass.; a granddaughter, Lauren Doyle, of Tulsa, Ok., a granddaughter, Rowan Doyle, of Charlestown, Md., a granddaughter, Lillianna Butler of Bellows Falls, Vt.; eight additional stepchildren, 35 step-grandchildren, and numerous step-great grandchildren as well as many cousins, beloved friends, and devoted colleagues. She was predeceased by her husband, Louis Doyle; husband, Fred J. Bussino; a stepdaughter; and her parents, Grace and Sharon Holden. Calling hours will be at KER-WESTERLUND FUNERAL HOME on Friday, March 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. A service to celebrate Melinda's life will be held Saturday, March 10, at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Brattleboro. A brief offering to benefit the Brattleboro Drop-In Center will be accepted during the service. A reception will follow at the Masonic Temple next to the church. Interment will be private for family and close friends. The family requests that in keeping with Melinda's wishes, donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center, 60 South Main St., Brattleboro, VT 05301. Attn: In Memory of Melinda.


  • Visitation Friday, March 9, 2012
  • Memorial Service Saturday, March 10, 2012

Melinda Bussino

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March 16, 2012

I was so saddened to hear about Melinda's passing it was so sudden, I keep expecting to see her car pull in the Drop In Center last Sunday, My condolensie to the family. Lynn next door neighbor

Lori & David Orfinik

March 12, 2012

What an amazing and full life. May her memory and lagacy live on. As a dear friend of Melinda's step-daughter, Liddy Doyle, we want to express our deepest sympathies to the entire family.

Amy(Capen) Avery

March 12, 2012

To Melinda's family the good your mom did has helped many and that will last forever and lay the path for the future.

Susan Shea

March 11, 2012

To All the Family,
As a former neighbor on Windmill, I will miss her VW about town. As the former director of Our Place in BF, I called upon your mom when we were putting the the warming shelter together in BF 2 years ago. Her unending persuasion, passion and energy that night was wonderful. "We are all in this together as neighbors, friends and family..."

She has left a place in many hearts and her passing has left a huge hole in our community. Melinda, your work is done may others will learn from your legacy and continue on. May you rest in peace...

valerie rices

March 11, 2012

she will be missed dearly i will always have her in my heart for ever she was a great person to know and be around to i will miss her a lot god be with you we all love you all every much

Judith Reichsman

March 9, 2012

Thank you, Melinda, for coming to all of our Gathering in Gratitude performances. Missing you already.

Patricia Lyman

March 9, 2012

I will never forget Melinda and I pray I pray that I can be half the person she has been through her life. Her committment, energy and love has always shown brightly. I will miss Melinda as a mentor and great friend.

March 9, 2012

marlene flick and her children would like to thank you for taking care of our mom. her children are sandra repko and george hall jr. we will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers. my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family. melinda will be sorrily missed.

Linda Brown

March 8, 2012

Dear Sarah and family.I am so sorry for your loss, Melinda was a wonderful human being in so many ways, she always put others before herself and I am willing to bet that sometimes when she helped folks, it was coming out of her own pocket. Saw firsthand the need for more services and she started the Drop In Center where a homeless person could get a hot meal and be able to take a shower and wash their clothes, a family struggling to make ends meet could get a food basket and above all, folks have been treated with dignity and grace, whatever the need was, Melinda would try to meet the needs. I remember asking for help once myself and she came through and I was so grateful, a couple of times, when I could I would volunteer answering phones and greeting people and it was quite humbling.

Sandy Lynn

March 8, 2012

Melinda was a support that we needed when we wanted
to open a food pantry in Guilford. She offered advice
and always always her smiles.