Bertrand “Frenchie” Lavoie
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My dad passed peacefully into heaven at the age of 93 on Saturday, June 22nd surrounded by myself and his granddaughter Emma. He was diagnosed only 2 ½ months ago with kidney, bone and stomach cancer of which he courageously fought until his last breath; he wasn’t ready to leave his family yet.
Born on December 20, 1925 in Rimouski, Quebec Canada he was the third born out of 16 children to parents Ernestine Morin and Paul Lavoie. During his youth he was a logger, trapper and responsible for his family’s farm. His family migrated south to Sherbrooke, Quebec where he met the love of his life Therese Delisle. The two were married on August 28, 1948 and were married over 68 years. A devoted husband who visited his wife daily while she was at North Adams Commons.
Migrating to the United States Dad was hired by McCarthy’s Tree Service in Williamstown and soon began to learn the language and taught himself to read in English. In 1958 he joined the Buildings and Grounds crew at Williams College which he worked for 30 years prior to his retirement in 1988. It was during this time he was nicknamed Frenchie and proudly drove around with a license plate of the same name. He was revered tree expert as well as a heavy equipment operator. One of his proudest accomplishments was planting all of the maple trees alongside of Route 2 as it runs through campus. In the winter months he and his crew were responsible for maintaining downhill slalom as well as x-country ski trails at Berlin Mountain Ski Area. He drove bulldozers, 18-wheelers and in his spare time created his own vehicles made of scrap parts such as riding lawn mower attached to beer kegs in order to lay blacktop in narrow areas of the campus. Dad’s retirement citation read “…if it has wheels, Frenchie can drive it”. Dad was also responsible for search and recovery missions for various airplane crashes on Berlin and Mt Greylock mountains. Dad never said no to anyone and had a tremendous well of patience.
Dad cherished and protected his family and those of others. He had a wonderful personality and his thick Canadian accent was endearing. One of his proudest moments was becoming a Naturalized Citizen of the United States. He was a Deputy Sheriff, volunteer fireman, member of the Civil Air Patrol, lobster & clam bake caterer, an ingenious inventor, stock car racer at Lebanon Valley Speedway, snowmobile racer and member of the Snow Drifters Club, proud owner of Honda Gold Wing motorcycles, Square Dancer at Swistak’s, Limousine Driver, a member of the Silver Greys and more.
He and mom would travel to Canada to help with the family’s maple syrup house and visit family in their motor home opting for taking the road less traveled in hopes of finding a good fishing spot. Dad loved fishing and made many trips to Val d’Or Canada and Lake Champlain.
Dad was happiest with his girls; his wife Therese who passed in 2016, his daughter Michelle Waryjasz and granddaughter Emma Waryjasz. He was a treasured husband, daddy and Pepe. He leaves 5 sisters and 2 brothers all living in Canada, many nieces, nephews and friends; predeceased by 8 siblings.
Emma and I want to thank Dr. Kristin Lamontagne, his doctor and friend, Heidi, staff at Williamstown Commons, Hospice of Berkshire County, loyal friends and neighborhood family, friends at Rite Aid Pharmacy, the Moulton family at the Spectacle Shoppe, and staff at Advanced Eye Care and Dr. Messenger’s Office for taking such good care of him so he could be with us for so long.
Funeral notice: A celebration of the life of Bert Lavoie will be held on Monday, July 8th at 2:00 pm at Flynn & Dagnoli-Montagna Home for Funerals West Chapels, 521 West Main Street North Adams, MA. A calling hour will be from 1-2 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society at cancer.org or through the funeral home. To add to the Book of Memories, please visit www.flynndanolifuneralhomes.com. Burial will be private at a later date.