The funeral for long time Rutland dance instructor Lorraine Gilbert – better known as Miss Lorraine – will be held Wednesday. Gilbert died at home Friday at the age of 85.
Lorraine Gilbert was born in Rutland County in 1929 and always loved to dance. She ran a dance studio briefly in France in the 1950s while her husband was stationed there with the Air Force. She also ran a studio in Oklahoma.
But she left her biggest mark in Rutland, opening Miss Lorraine’s School of Dance there in the late 1960s.
Peg Kraus, one of her first students, says Miss Lorraine taught her much more than dancing and the two ended up teaching side-by-side for years.
“I was with her for 47 years, and she was like a second mother to me,” Kraus says. “She held the bar high along with this love and encouragement. So people felt really good when they were around her and learning from her, because she would just pull the best out of people.”
Lorraine Gilbert had a gift, says Rita McCaffrey, teaching with both love and discipline. McCaffrey’s four children took dance and acrobatic lessons from Miss Lorraine throughout the 1970s and early ‘80s. McCaffrey says field trips Gilbert led to New York City to expose her students to Broadway and the ballet were trips her daughters looked forward to every year.
She had a way of making every student feel special, says McCaffrey.
“She was just remarkable for the number of years she was teaching, the number of lives she touched. She was just a magnificent presence in Rutland and did so much more than the dance recitals,” McCaffrey says.
Lorraine Gilbert taught dance well into her seventies before her daughter Pam took over the studio. Her granddaughter Heather Brouillard is now running Miss Lorraine’s, something Pam Brouillard says her mother cherished.
A funeral mass for Lorraine Gilbert will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at Christ King Church in Rutland.