Remains of Vermont home where Rainville diedRemains of charred Rainville family home behind yellow tape, Strafford, Vt., mid-February. / James M. Patterson photo, copyright Valley News, West Lebanon, N.H.

UPDATED March 20: People in at least three states have been in mourning over the past month. Official confirmation was received Feb. 21 of the death in a fire on Feb. 15 of longtime former Arlington Town Clerk Corinne Rainville, who after a long career in local public service had moved to the tiny town in Vermont where her two daughters live. 

"As a result of VSP’s investigation, the cause of the fire has been officially listed as undetermined/non-suspicious," said Adam Silverman -- spokesman for the Vermont State Police, one of the key agencies involved in the investigation of the tragic accident -- on Feb. 28.

Her death had been was reported days earlier -- initially without using her name or former professional affiliation -- by New Hampshire-based media that also serve Vermont, including the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H. Its coverage focused on how generously the overall community has responded to the situation.

"The Vermont State Police has identified the [fire] victim as Corrine (sic) Rainville, 77, of Strafford, Vermont," a Feb. 21 news release said. The Orange County town has a population of slightly more than 1,000 and is near the state line with New Hampshire.

"The investigation into the fire is still ongoing," said the email transmitted at midmorning Wednesday, Feb. 21. Per the release, the family home on Rogers Road was found fully engulfed shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, with the body later discovered by firefighters and fire investigators. "Fire officials requested the Department of Public Safety Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit [to] respond to the scene to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Initial investigation indicates the fire is not suspicious."

Rainville in 1994 Advocate political advertisement.Rainville in 1994 Advocate political advertisement.

Retired in 2010

Mrs. Rainville retired in 2010 after 16 years in the elected Town Hall post -- among its many responsibilities is to submit Town Meeting articles to the state after Town Meeting ends -- after having worked for the town since 1981. She began as a part-time senior clerk typist, then moved up to full time in that job category, then became assistant town clerk in 1988. She came back to work at Town Hall temporarily in the autumn of 2019. The position also involves numerous day-to-day duties including overseeing elections and handling birth certificates, marriage licenses and voter registration

Before the tragic news became official, Strafford-based friends set up crowdfunding for the survivors; as of 8 a.m. March 20, this fund stands at $29,510 -- very close to the stated goal of $30,000 -- intended to help with immediate living expenses for Mrs. Rainville's daughter, Kerri, school nurse at the Newton School, part of the White River Valley Supervisory Union, and granddaughter, Kallie. Mrs. Rainville's other daughter, Kristen, also lives in the town. Individual contributions by 298 people have ranged from $20 to $500 per person -- and include a few from Arlington residents. 

Maher, Powers comment

"I served as Arlington Town Counsel from 1975 to 2008 and in such capacity, it was my privilege to serve with Corinne, and I am saddened to hear of her passing," said local attorney John F. Maher via email. "She was unfailing in her courtesy and good humor to both her fellow town officials and employees of the general public who had occasion to have business with the Town Clerk's office. She was extremely capable and universally well liked and respected. I will miss her, as shall the Arlington community," he concluded.

Also feeling the loss is one of Mrs. Rainville's predecessors: Ann Mahon Powers, who was elected Town Clerk twice, in 1959 and again in 1984. "I so enjoyed working with Corinne for years at the Town Hall. She was a dependable and diligent worker and a pleasure to be around, both in and out of the office. She had a great sense of humor," said Powers, 90.

"I would visit her oftentimes after I left the Town Hall. Sometimes I would bring my grandkids to the office 'where Grammy worked,' just to say hello. They loved to visit Corinne, and she was always so excited to see them. It's so sad to hear this news, and I am thinking of her family at this time." 

Wagner remembers

Sharing a particularly telling, touching memory Wednesday evening Feb. 21 was Carl Wagner, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 17.

"I was very sorry to hear of the fire and Mrs. Rainville's death," he wrote. "When she was the Arlington Town Clerk, she once came down to open up the shuttered clerk's office on a Saturday when I had forgotten to pick up my marriage license during weekday working hours. She didn't know me, but she answered her phone when I called in a desperate situation.

"The result was that my wedding could go ahead, despite my forgetfulness in the preparations for the wedding that did go through later that morning! To me, that was a sign of incredible kindness and dedication to her work and the people of Arlington, which I will never forget." 

This account was published at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, based on law-enforcement confirmation, online sources and YourArlington's files; it has been frequently updated as more information becomes available. It was updated at mid-day Feb. 22, to add photographs; almost daily since then to report the latest from the crowdfunding effort on behalf of the decedent's survivors; and Feb. 28, to report that the tragedy has been officially listed as nonsuspicious and its cause undetermined. It was updated most recently March 15, to indicate that the crowdfunding goal of $30,000 had been nearly reached as of that date.

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