- Janet Louise (Silsby) Dunham, 86, passed away on November 30, 2016, at Portsmouth Hospital. Janet was born on July 26, 1930, to John and Mae Louise Silsby in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. She had a very happy childhood, graduated from Portland Street Elementary School and from St. Johnsbury Academy in the class of 1948.
Janet was a 1952 graduate of the University of Vermont and received her degree in Elementary Education. She later earned a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Maine.
During the summers when Janet was in college, she worked for the Vermont Congregational Conference conducting Vacation Church Schools in rural towns of Vermont.
Upon graduation from UVM Janet taught one year in Winooski, Vermont. While at the UVM Janet met her future husband, Wallace Dunham. They were married on Christmas Eve in 1953 in the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury. Wallace was on a brief leave from the military service in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Janet then taught first grade on the Base.
Janet and Wallace were blessed with three wonderful daughters and Janet was a homemaker for several years. When Wallace was on a sabbatical from the University of Maine in 1968-1970, Janet taught remedial reading at Boynton Junior High School in Ithaca, New York. Upon returning to Maine where Wallace was on the faculty at the University of Maine, Janet taught school for twenty years in Bangor, Maine.
Upon retirement Janet and Wallace moved to Madbury, New Hampshire. Janet was active in the community where she resided and was always busy with various projects. She enjoyed sewing and knitting and made over 550 small quilts for the Seacoast Linus Project as well as many little "Peace Dolls" for a mission in Haiti. For several years Janet was on the Board of Managers at the Wentworth Home in Dover. She was a member of the Community Church of Durham in which she was an active member.
Janet and Wallace thoroughly enjoyed traveling in their retirement visiting many places in the United States and Europe and also traveling to Egypt, Tunisia, the Yucatan Peninsula, Argentina, and Chile. They also enjoyed many cruises.
Janet is survived by her dear husband of 63 years, three daughters; Susan Dunham Smolinsky and her husband Dr. Lawrence Smolinsky of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Cynthia Dyer and her husband Donald of East Falmouth, Massachusetts; and Carol Anne Vaicunas and her husband Raymond Vaicunas of Randolph, New Jersey. She is also survived by four grandchildren: Rachael and Luke Vaicunas and Nathan and Alyssa Dyer. Janet is survived by her sister Carolyn of Montpelier, Vermont.
A Memorial Service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to either of the following scholarships: The Wallace C. and Janet S. Dunham Prize or the Wallace and Janet Dunham Ecology & Environment Sciences Program Scholarship c/o University of Maine Foundation, Buchanan Alumni House, 2 Alumni Place, Orono, Maine 04469-5792.
Arrangements under the direction of Purdy Funeral Service, Dover, NH; To sign our online guestbook, please go to