For those who never knew Albano, at his best he was intelligent, creative, bombastic, and a force of nature. He was a big man with a large personality and a booming voice that could dominate a room like few others. And he knew how to use those vocal chords. Whether at a committee or board meeting, on the phone putting together a deal or on a stage reciting lines, that voice could cut through just about anything. That vociferous “basso profundo” was often used to take control of a room. Or stir it up, depending on what outcome Albano was looking for. But of course, he was far more than just a big voice in a small town.
Albano had a varied career that ran the gamut from real estate and publishing to preaching and acting (see his obituary on page B10).
Looking back at the businessman in him, Albano was always a dreamer and wheeler-dealer. He was at his best developing ideas on the fly and writing deals on napkins over lunch and sealing them with a handshake and nothing else. He founded a number of businesses and was there at the beginning of the local chamber of commerce. He was never much for the minutiae of business, as many who worked for him would surely acknowledge. However, when looking at the big picture from 30,000 feet, he saw clearly what others could not, and was fearless when taking a risk for something he believed in. Some of those risks paid off, some did not, but he was never afraid to try.
Certainly he left his mark with the Southern Vermont Valley News, as this paper was known under his watch. He was one of the long line of torchbearers to own and operate this weekly newspaper. He kept it true to its mission of reporting on the news and life here in the valley, and helped propel the paper forward during his 14 years at the helm.
Community service was also a big part of who Albano was. He served on government boards and committees and devoted countless hours to numerous organizations, including the Deerfield Valley Rotary Club and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. He was never afraid to take a position on an issue that he saw as favorable to his town, like advocating for a water system in West Dover, even when he knew it was unpopular with many.
In his later years, Albano was often seen with his wife Sheila enjoying the summer concerts in the Dover Park or careening through various events in the Rotary Club golf cart, often with fellow Rotarian and former Valley News gossip columnist Betty Crawford in the seat next to him. They made quite a pair, and between them carried more history of the past half century in the valley than just about anyone.
Albano was also a family man who loved his wife, their children, and grandchildren. He was able to mix business and family by partnering not just in life but in entrepreneurial ventures with his wife and his children. We should all be so lucky.
There is no doubt that Albano left an impression on Dover, the valley, the state, and just about everyone he came in contact with, be it for business or one of his volunteer initiatives. And, like most of us, probably not all of those impressions were favorable. Anyone with as strong a personality as Albano’s was certain to rub some the wrong way. But, when looking over the whole of his life here in Vermont, he gave more than he received, by a wide margin, to the valley, to his town, to the business community, and to his family. Could there be any better legacy than that?
We’re all better for the time Don Albano spent here. He will be missed and remembered. Rest in peace.