Ramona Elaine Roberts, 78 of Englewood FL, formerly of Essex Jet. and Middlebury, passed away in the comfort of her home with her loving husband of 57 years Bill Roberts by her side. Since their retirement they resided on Lake Iroquois in Hinesburg Vt. Summers and Englewood, Fl. Winters.
“Mona” was a loving “Mom” to her two sons, Richard “Rick” Roberts [1953-1978] and Kenny “Bert” Roberts of Jeffersonville. She was always their greatest fan at all their sports activities. She provided wonderful support for them as well as her husband Bill while he served as a Village Trustee and then as President of the Village of Essex Jet. Besides her loving husband Bill and son Ken she is survived by 2 Grand daughters Lauren Roberts and Yohanna Briscoe as well as cousins in VT and Mass. She was predeceased by her father Clarence Pitts of Malden Mass. and her Mother Dorothy Perry of East Middlebury VT.
Mona brought up two fine sons, taught Sunday School, was a Den Mother for Cub Scouts, sang in the church choir of the Grace Methodist Church as well as the Fun Chorus of Englewood during Winter months. She held many offices in the United Methodist Women and was awarded a life membership pin. Mona worked 25 years for the Federal Government and retired in 1987 as a deputy clerk of the Federal Court in Burlington Vt.
Mackenzie Pratt, who showed grace and determination during two battles against cancer as a three-sport athlete at Lamoille Union High School, has died. She was 21. Pratt, who was in her fourth year at NorwichUniversity,died at her Hyde Park home late Sunday night from complications related to her third bout with cancer, athletic officialssaid Monday.
“I was blessed withthe wonderfulopportunityto both teach and coach Mackenzie Pratt,” LamoilleAthleticDirectorTim Messier said. “Mackenzie, a multi-talented, three sport all-star, represented what we all hope for in our youth. Her positivityand bright smile simply filledany room and endeared her to everyone she ever met.”
The Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association voted Pratt the 2006-07 Vermont Athlete of the Year for females. Pratt was a four-year standout soccer goalie, one of the state’s most dominating softball pitchers and a starter for the Lamoille basketball team, which went to the final four all four years and won the Division II state crown in her senior year.
She was diagnosed with cancer and began receiving treatment in her junior year. In January of her senior year, doctors found three tumors each about the size of a bottle cap in her chest. Pratt remained sidelined until the final 19.5 seconds of the state title basketball game in early March at Barre Auditorium.
In one of the most touching moments in Vermont sports history, Pratt slipped off her colorfulbandana to reveal her bald head at the scorers table as she prepared to enter the game. Teammate Becky Tisbert gave it a good-luck rub as fans from both Lamoilleand Mount Abraham rose from their seats to give Pratt a thunderous standing ovation. Pratt became a Freeman Foundation Scholarship recipient at Norwich.
Norwich University President Richard Schneider said in a telephone interviewthat Pratt willbe long remembered as a
positive role model on the Northfieldcampus. Schneider said he and his wife enjoyed watching Pratt play softball for the Cadets.
“She was a wonderful student, a great athlete, a strong woman and had a lot of heart,” Schneider said. He said Pratt was a battler to the end.
‘An inspiration and a heroine’
LamoilleNorth School Superintendent Debra Taylor said Pratt’s death is a loss for Lamoilleand beyond.
“Mackenzie was a remarkable young lady who, in spite of the challenges of her illness over several years, was always positive, persevering, an inspiration and a heroine to her peers and adults whose lives she touched,” Taylor said. “The loss of this tremendous young woman will certainly be felt by many.”
Pratt served as a substitute teacher, assisted with the after-school program, and summer-school program at Hyde Park
Elementary School, where her mother is a teacher. Taylor said the school district is providing support and counseling for staff and students as needed.
Pratt had helped pitch Norwich into the Great Northeast Athletic Conference semifinals last spring and played softball throughout the summer. But in August, she developed breathing issues. The complications initially were thought to be due to the hot, humid, hazy weather, but later medical tests later showed the cancer had returned., She was treated at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington,but during the Labor Day weekend Pratt made a decision to return home. She recently had gone to Boston for treatment and was hospitalized in Burlingtonagain before returning to her Hyde Park farm for her final few days.
In the 2005-06 school year,Vermonters rallied behind Pratt when her junior season in basketball was interrupted after she found a lump near her collarbone. Medical tests diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s lymphoma; doctors found a tumor slightly larger than a softball in her chest.Pratt began chemotherapy as high school teams and organizations donated proceeds from 50-50 raffles, food sales and other fundraisers to her and her familyto help offset medical expenses.During treatment, a 6-inch piece of tubing inserted into Pratt’s chest for chemotherapy broke off, passed through her heart and lodged in the pulmonary artery by the top of the lungs. Two hours of surgery and six recovery attempts were necessary to rem”ovethe tube.
Pratthealedintimeforherjuniorsoftballseason, pitchingafour-hitterintheseason’s openerinmid-April.Shefollowed with a two-hitter,a one-hitter and a no-hitter.
Pratt helped provide Lamoille Union with two state titles as a soccer goalie and another title in basketball. While softball was her passion, Pratt didn’t pick up a high-school softball crown until last spring. After wrapping up her softball season for Norwich,she returned home to become an assistant coach on a Lamoille team that featured her younger sister, Kylie,as the standout pitcher; their father, Charles, as head coach; and their mom, Jean, as scorekeeper.
She and her sister once combined for a no-hitter at Lamoille.They were together in school again at Norwichthis fall and getting ready to be softball teammates this spring. Mackenzie Pratt said the love and treatment she experienced during her two bouts with cancer led her to study nursing at Norwich.
At no moment was that love more evident than during that 2007 state title game as the crowd and both teams cheered her. Pratt actually got a shot off in the final seconds of a 41-32 win, but it was probably just as well that she missed, Messier said at the time.