Jack Lylis

Jack Lylis passed away peacefully on April 15, 2024 surrounded by his family in a room filled with so much love and gratitude.

Jack lived life up until his final moments � managing to get himself to Brooklyn to watch his beloved University of Vermont Catamounts play Duke and escaping his hospital room to get outside and witness the recent solar eclipse.

Jack was born on January 15, 1943 to John Charles Lylis, Sr. and Catherine Lylis in Bellow Falls, VT. It was growing up in Cambridge NY, an idyllic village with trout filled streams, where his passion for fishing began. It is also where his love of basketball started; proudly playing on the Cambridge championship team -- resulting in lifelong bragging rights and 60-yearlong friendships with teammates. He cherished those glory days.

After graduating from Cambridge High School in 1960, he went on to earn his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Botany at the University of Vermont, followed by a PhD in freshwater biology at UCONN. In 1964, as a teaching fellow in a UVM science class, he met a pretty freshman named Sara which kicked off a 60-year love story for the ages. Soulmates and best friends, their commitment and devotion to each other inspired everyone who knew them.

His career began teaching Botany and serving as chairman of the Graduates Studies in the Biology department at the University of Hartford and the assistant director of its Environmental Center in Norfolk. In 1976, he joined Hartford Hospital where his career spanned 30 years as the Vice President of Education. Highlights include serving as the President of North Central Connecticut Emergency Medical Services Council and his involvement with LifeStar, the Hospital's medical helicopter service.

An ecologist and environmentalist, he loved teaching, and it transcended beyond the classroom. He loved identifying plant species, animals, birds and fish. Going on a short walk through the woods with Jack would quickly become a science lesson. He was an avid fisherman and some of his favorite memories were stream fishing with his eldest daughter Amanda (Mandy), showing her the wonders of nature which instilled her deep love of wildlife to this day.

For forty years, he and Sara raised their four children in West Hartford, CT. The OG Six. He cherished his friendships from those days and remembered with great fondness the annual Lylis Christmas party where dear friends would celebrate the season with soup competitions and memorable meatballs. For several summers, while the rest of the family was up at the Adirondack camp in Willsboro, NY, he got to spend solo time with his daughter Heather, making special dinners together and talking about their days. He was the ultimate girl dad before it was cool to be a girl dad. He treasured spending time with his daughter Stephanie at Camp � both of their happy places -- working in the garden, enjoying the Adirondack mountains, boating on Lake Champlain and appreciating the quaintness of the small community. He loved going to Red Sox games with his son, Eric, whom he declared the funniest person in the family. Eric could make him laugh to tears.

Jack and Sara moved back to Burlington, VT upon his retirement in 2006 to be able to spend time doing what he loved: enjoying the warmer months at Camp. Some of the family's most memorable days � from Knock 31 card tournaments to competitive Wiffleball games (complete with family uniforms) were there. A perfect day was gardening, cooking a big meal together for the family, and shooting hoops with his grandson Trevor. These evenings often concluded with the perfect toast by Trevor; aka "The Toaster."

There is nothing Jack loved more than his family. Growing up as an only child in a quiet family, he had to quickly learn to embrace and adapt to the chaos, drama and fierce love that ensues with a family of six. Big personalities, sarcasm and teasing were rampant -- and humor was borderline (or, always?) inappropriate. The Lylis family loves to laugh, have fun, and be around each other � so much so, that in recent years the family was fortunate to travel to great places together. Vacationing as a family of adults was a true gift. He loved the bonus of having a close-knit extended family and looked forward to their many holiday gatherings. He was a devoted father-in-law, brother-in-law and so proud of his niece and nephews. And he loved being a pet granddad --he loved all furry creatures.

Beyond his family, his greatest joy and love was UVM sports. You could always count on Jack and Sara sitting courtside in their green and gold. Made even more special, his son-in-law, Afi and granddaughter, Maddie shared this passion and they went to countless games together � home and away - bonding with players, coaches and other Catamount fans, to will their beloved teams to championships. His dedication and support of UVM Athletics earned him the UVM 2013 Rally award � one of his greatest honors.

He accomplished so much in his life but what mattered the most to him was how he made people feel --- and Jack Lylis never met a stranger; he always met a new friend. From garage attendants to restaurant waiters to the nurses and doctors at UVM Medical Center � he learned names and asked genuine questions of everyone he met. As his children grew up and expanded their network of friends, he loved the cocktail hours and long dinners where he learned about their lives. As always with Jack, his children's friends quickly became his own.

Jack fought a long and valiant health battle for many years. The eternal optimist, he beat cancer for seven years by living his life with gratitude and positivity. He never complained. His family would like to express their heartfelt appreciation to his extraordinary medical team at the University of Vermont Medical Center -- with special acknowledgement to the Hematology and Oncology doctors, nurses and staff as well as the compassionate care team from UVM Home Health & Hospice.

He is survived by his wife Sara, daughter Amanda Ahmadi, son-in-law Afi Ahmadi, grandchildren Maddie & Trevor Ahmadi, daughters Stephanie Lylis and Heather Lylis, son Eric Lylis and his partner Katie Kellogg. Katie's thoughtful caretaking in his final years is something that meant so much to him and all of us.

In a book he wrote for his children, he said "In looking at childhood photographs, I am reminded at just how much I loved nature, fishing, small town living and the high school glory days. The more recent pictures have allowed me to cherish all the wonderful moments I have had in my adult life. Collectively, this journey down memory lane has allowed me to realize just how great and fulfilling my entire life has been, particularly my adult years as a husband, father and grandfather. Thank you one and all."

There will be a celebration of life on Sunday, May 19th at 2pm at the Old Lantern Inn & Barn in Charlotte, Vermont. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to one of these organizations that brought Jack comfort and joy:

Vermont Medical Center


Lake Champlain International, an organization working for a swimmable, drinkable, fishable Lake Champlain.


UVM Athletic department


And lastly, for all the anonymous strangers whose blood donations extended Jack's quality of life, we are so grateful. Please also consider donating blood:


Class of 1960
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