You need to remember that Vermont Yankee had a design lifetime of 40 years, which it met with reasonable success. I always worry about what the thoughtful engineers of old were thinking when they said that the plant would last that long. There are a couple of aspects to this.
First and foremost, Nuclear power in its present state is completely unforgiving. While there are newer designs that overcome many of the problems, the fact remains Vermont was an aging nuclear plant. One of the cooling towers collapsed in itself near the end because of rusted bolts. While this per se was not a part of the critical area where the plant operated, it still highlights the type of problems that aging equipment faces. As good as plant operations may have been, this cooling tower failure was completely unanticipated.
This is actually the exact same type of failure that Fukushima fell victim too. No one predicted that there would be a Tsunami capable of taking out power to the plants which lead to the cascading failures (otherwise they would have caught the sea incursion flaw of the sea being able to get into the plant).
I suspect this was some of the thinking that the early engineers had. That the plant could become subject to failures that they could not predict because of aging equipment *or* an aging design like Fukushima (which had some of the same era Mark 1 designs that Vermont Yankee has). If Fukishima was a modern design, it perhaps could have withstood a complete loss of power like what happened there.
Clearly (imho) the way forward is with smaller, more contained nuclear plants and not relying on large monolithic plants that when they fail, they hurt the entire surrounding society.
I otherwise agree with your points. It's just that people need to realize that equipment does have limited timelines that it can reliably work. Vermont Yankee did meet what the original engineers intended. I submit that it needs to be replaced with another reactor that is a smaller, modern, and a safer design - rather than lament it's absence.