Juanita (Nita) Crosby Choukas, 87, passed away peacefully at her home in Hanover, New Hampshire on November 11, 2017, surrounded in her final days by her beloved husband of 66 years, Michael Choukas, Jr, her three children, her ten grandchildren, and several of her great grandchildren.
Nita was a renowned figure in Hanover for 40 years. She wrote, directed and starred in many regional theatrical productions, authored Bayberry and Beau, a popular children’s book published by Chelsea Green about a real life friendship between a cat and a horse, and hosted countless Dartmouth alumni gatherings, during which she passionately defended her political convictions. Nita graduated from The Mary Hitchcock Nursing School in 1951. She worked as a surgical nurse for many years, notably at Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC. She also served as the head nurse during summer sessions of the Cardigan Mountain School from 1956-1960, and at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Bellows Falls, VT.
She and her husband, Mike, moved to Saxtons River, Vermont in 1954. While Mike taught math, coached several varsity teams and later served as headmaster of the preparatory school, Vermont Academy, Nita was a compassionate and beloved leader in the life of the school, acting in and directing plays and serving as Director of Drama, welcoming and nurturing generations of students, faculty and their families, and contributing to an overall sense of well-being for the school and village communities. The Nita Choukas Theater at the school was built and named in her honor.
Nita served as director of Public Relations and Development at The New England Kurn Hattin Homes for Children from 1978 to 1989 and as Director of Development at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) from 1990 to 1994. She and her daughter Ellie Choukas Anderson co-authored and directed the musical An Elemental Tale. Nita directed and acted in numerous Parish Players productions, including starring roles in On Golden Pond (also with the New London Barn Players), The Gin Game, and Lettice and Lovage.
Nita was born in Whiting, Maine, where she lived as a child. Her family moved to Franklin, New Hampshire and she graduated from Franklin High School in 1948, where she was a student leader and a delegate to Girls’ State and Girls’ Nation in Washington, DC. In addition to receiving her nursing degree, Nita took liberal arts courses at Dartmouth, New England College, and Windham College. Nita was a compassionate friend and active member of all the communities in which she lived, as well as a gracious hostess and gourmet cook. Her loving, creative, playful devotion to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren was boundless and inspirational. She was a brilliant, energetic force and will be much missed by her family and friends. Nita is survived by her husband Mike, her daughters Melanie and Ellie, their husbands Jim Choukas-Bradley and Hill Anderson, her son Mike, her former daughter-in-law and dear friend Kerry Riess-Choukas, and their ten children and eight grandchildren.
The family is grateful for the dedicated care provided to Nita in recent months by Dr. Barbara Lazar and the DHMC-VNH Aging at Home Program, Nurse Anne Sutton, caregiver and friend Bonnie Jennison, and the talented and dedicated hospice team at BAYADA Home Health Care.
The family is planning a private service to be followed by a celebration of her life in the Nita Choukas Theater in Horowitz Hall at Vermont Academy in the spring of 2018 at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to The Alzheimer’s Association, BAYADA Home Health Care, or the DHMC-VNH Aging at Home Program.