Emmett Moffitt Van Buskirk, 81, from Bristol – 71Bait


BRISTOL – Emmett Van Buskirk passed away peacefully on March 1, 2022 after a long battle with heart disease. Emmett was born on October 31, 1940 in Fort Monroe, Virginia to Dr. Born Frederick W. Van Buskirk and Margaret Moffit Van Buskirk. In 1946 the family moved to Burlington, Vt., and purchased the well-known Main Street home now known as the Lang House Bed & Breakfast, where Emmett spent most of his childhood.

A lifelong artist and teacher, Emmett graduated from Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania in 1959 and received a Bachelor of Arts Fine Arts degree from Middlebury College in 1963. After receiving his Masters of Arts in Teaching from Oberlin College in 1964, Emmett taught art in public schools in Ohio and Indiana before becoming a professor of art at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa in 1968, where he received numerous teaching awards and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree in 2000.

In 2000, Professor Van Buskirk relocated to Bristol, Vt. back to where he spent the last decades of his life.

Emmett was an extraordinary man of many talents. A lifelong realist painter, he worked primarily in watercolor and created an impressive variety of vibrant landscape and portrait work over the course of his artistic career. Though Emmett was far too humble to say so, the striking depth of his art was reminiscent of his beloved Andrew Wyeth, even as they firmly established his own unique aesthetic voice in the Brandywine School tradition. He leaves behind a rich legacy of remarkable beauty and creative expression that will allow him to stay here with us forever in a cherished way.

In addition to his love of art and its creation, Emmett was a formidable collector with a variety of avid acquisition interests. He maintained impressive collections of Native American pottery, Inuit soapstone sculptures, art books, collectible toys, and antiques. In each case, these respective treasures showed his keen eye not only for rarity but also for memory and joy. In fact, for Emmett, the most important thing was that a piece spoke to you in a meaningful way. The rest was just a bonus, and his collections were fueled by that fundamental wisdom.

Emmett’s fondness for gardening mirrored his love for the glory of Vermont’s summer. He loved to pull colors out of the ground, tomatoes and other perfect things. When he wasn’t gardening, he could often be seen sitting in his favorite spot on the porch in the sun, soaking up her hug. It was a place he would go as soon as spring’s whims permitted, and would not give up until November insisted. And when it wasn’t available, Emmett tuned in to golf tournaments, not for the game but for the deep green grass and warm sunshine that bathed every hole. As part of this perpetual search for the sun, he was keenly interested in the weather and could always be relied on to know the ins and outs of the weather forecast.

Though Emmett had many skills and myriad interests, he will be remembered most for his kindness and the deep well of generosity from which it flowed. He was always willing to help, whether it was setting a table or moving a cumbersome piece of furniture from one impossible place to another. When life got really tough, Emmett always rose to the challenge without complaint, putting his own needs ahead of all others, and selflessly devoting himself, his home, and his heart to whatever was needed, be it comfort, sustenance, or anything else.

Emmett appreciated a good joke and was always quick with a grin. He had nothing negative to say about anyone and could always be counted on to offer a compliment and encouragement. He carried himself through this world with a peaceful grace that didn’t always manifest itself physically, but could always be found in his gentle nature and gentle presence. He was what has become the rarest thing in our world. He was a lovely man. And he will be deeply missed.

Emmett is survived by his wife Jo; his son Duncan; his son Cameron, daughter-in-law Lorena and grandson Anderson; stepson Geoff Davis, stepdaughter LuAnn Chiola and granddaughter Genevieve; honorary son Jim Pugh and his wife Leah; sister Anna Little and brother George; a large contingent of dearly loved nieces and nephews and many dear friends, all of whom he cherished.

All are invited to share their memories of Emmett at a celebration of his life on Saturday, July 23 at 2pm at his Bristol home.◊

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