Jennifer Kochman, a South Burlington community advocate and long-time volunteer member of numerous city committees, died on June 11. She was 78.
The South Burlington City Council passed a resolution Monday in memory of Kochman’s community service and lasting mark on the city as a “beloved friend and neighbor,” according to the resolution.
Kochman, who had battled cancer for many years and defeated it, died suddenly in early June due to other health issues.
“We have lost one of our very best, a tireless advocate working to improve the quality of life of our residents with a deep love and devotion to this community,” city council chair Helen Riehle read from the resolution Monday.
Born in 1943, Kochman settled in Vermont in 1969 after splitting her time between the Midwest and Green Mountain State. She settled in South Burlington in 1987 where she lived until her death. She leaves behind her husband, Frank, and daughters, Janice Cable-Nyström and Lena Francesca Kochman.
Kochman served on the South Burlington Recreation and Parks Committee for 12 years, a portion spent as chair, as well as on the city’s Public Art Selection Committee, the Wheeler Conservation Easement Task Force and the Library Board of Trustees.
In 2015, she participated in an oral history interview for the Vermont Historical Society, detailing her early life living as a young single mother in the 1960s. Kochman discussed her involvement in the Vermont Freeman, an alternative newspaper founded in 1969, as well as her advocacy around women’s health issues.
In 2019, Planned Parenthood of Northern Vermont honored Kochman for her contributions in founding the Vermont Women’s Health Center in the early 1970s, according to her obituary.
The city council resolution also states that Kochman worked to support victims of domestic violence through the South Burlington Police Department, “by giving a voice to survivors by courageously sharing her story.”
“She was a force of nature and, just, a wonderful person who will live on,” said councilor Meaghan Emery, after the resolution passed.
Cable-Nyström, who tuned into the meeting virtually, thanked the councilors for the tribute and for making her mom feel like her work mattered.
“My mom had a passion for city governance that I did not at all understand. I come from a long line of people who believe in service to their communities, and my mom is the most prominent, most devoted person of my family that’s done that,” she said. “Thank you for making her feel like she was doing something in the city and giving her an outlet for all of that need and energy and drive, and for recognizing her hard and good work. I appreciate it.”
City councilors recognized Kochman for “her intelligence, quick wit, candor, courage, honesty and determination,” per the resolution. It also noted that recognition of her service would be displayed in the new City Hall, library and senior center being constructed on Market Street, which will open to the public next month.