CORNWALL — Leo Francis Hotte died unexpectedly, surrounded by his wife and son and other family members at the UVM Hospital on Feb. 14, 2023.
Leo grew up in Bridport, one of nine children who worked and played hard on the family dairy farm. Between school and chores Leo found time for sports, hunting, and adventuring. He graduated from Middlebury Union High School and after trying a couple of non-farming jobs, he returned to Bridport to take over the management of the family farm. He worked the farm with his brother Tim for several years, and then decided it was time for a new challenge. Thanks to the many, many useful skills he acquired on the farm and his strong work ethic, Leo became manager/caretaker of Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Mountain Campus in Ripton, where he remained for 26 years before retiring in Cornwall.
Leo loved sports; he played a little football in high school, joined his brothers on the local Bridport softball team, and friends knew him as a ferocious ping pong player. He later dazzled students and staff at the School of English vs Ripton softball games played every Sunday.
At Bread Loaf Leo was admired for his boundless energy, skill with all vehicles, deep knowledge of the inner workings of campus buildings, and his ability to bail anyone out of almost any jam, all done with an easy grin. In addition to keeping the physical plant running, Leo also supervised the grounds and housekeeping staff, working alongside them and making sure all groups using the campus had the support they needed for their session or event.
The writers and readers who became friends during summers sometimes spread Leo’s renown beyond Bread Loaf. A writer for the short-lived Fame magazine wrote about an off-road challenge she threw down, pitting her new Jeep against Leo’s old beloved Land Rover (Leo had to tow her Jeep out of the river). More recently and affectionately, Leo was featured in a Middlebury magazine cover story written by a Middlebury and Bread Loaf alum. Leo was greatly amused when the bumpy tractor-driven hayrides he gave each summer at the Writers’ Conference appeared on the “Word Loaf” episode of The Simpsons.
Respecting Leo’s wishes, there will be no formal memorial service. Family and friends will gather to celebrate his life and friendship privately. Later in the spring there will be a graveside service for family.
Leo is survived by his wife of 43 years, Sandy LeGault of Cornwall; his sons, Leo Hotte Jr. of Granville and Jean Paul Hotte of Auburn, Wash.; siblings Lucien Hotte Jr., of Bridport, Barbara Gleeson of Florida, Julia Benoit of Bridport, Timothy Hotte of Bridport, Jesse Hotte of Bridport, Laura Altman of Mayetta, Kan., and Lisa Taylor of Bridport; and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, his daughter Terry Hotte, and his sister Roseanna Lesser. ◊