Jerry Euclid Bouchard, much loved father, friend, newspaperman and community servant, died on Oct. 21, 2019, at Mount Desert Island Hospital following a long illness complicated by Lyme disease. His family was by his side. He was 85.
He was born on Nov. 24, 1933, in Stockholm, Maine, son of the late Wilbrod and Lottie (Bernaiche) Bouchard. Nicknamed “Tonnerre,” French for “thunder,” he was a precocious child who survived an early brush with death, when he fell backward into a tub of scalding water that was being used to process chickens in the backyard. His mother nursed him back to health.
During World War II, while his parents worked in the South Portland shipyards, he boarded at the Sacred Heart Convent School in Jackman, along with his older sister, JoAnne, who died earlier this year.
After the war, his parents settled in Auburn, where his father operated Willie’s Barber Shop and his mother was a shoe shop quality inspector. He delivered the Lewiston Daily Sun and Lewiston Evening Journal, beginning a 50-year career in the news business.
He studied printing at Edward Little High School, graduating in 1951, and went to work at the Lewiston papers as a linotype operator. He was among the fastest at his craft, “hanging” at least 1,800 lines of hot type per shift. “The best made it look effortless, like tickling the keys on a piano,” he recalled. “I tried to mimic them.”
He enlisted in the Army in 1953, during the Korean War, and served honorably for two years with the 1st Infantry Division, stationed in Bamberg, Germany. He then returned to the Sun-Journal, where he worked in production and delivered bundles to paperboys. He completed advanced printing studies with the International Typographical Union and later became the local union president. As newspaper production grew more automated, he adapted, eventually becoming an advertising sales representative.
In 1955, he married Barbara Hurley and they started raising a family in Auburn, in a house he renovated with his father. His carpentry skills expanded when they moved to Lewiston, where he built a garage and mud room addition with lumber salvaged from an old barn.
In 1959, he built a camp on Hurley’s Island, on Upper Narrows Pond in Winthrop, an idyllic family retreat established by his father-in-law and great friend, the late Charles Edward “Bob” Hurley. As usual, his helpers included his wife and then-2-year-old son, Michael, who joined him on many other building projects and is now a business executive.
He was most happy on the island, whether working on the camp or soaking up the sun during long summer vacations; hosting friends for bean-hole baked bean suppers, skinny dipping after the kids went to bed or ice fishing and skating on brisk winter days. He relished the sound of rain falling on the roof, loons calling on the lake and the stereo playing low late at night.
He had a sonorous voice, a strong handshake, a hearty laugh and he often whistled when he was busy and content. He defined DIY in his younger days, chopping his own firewood, maintaining his own vehicles and doing most home fixes himself rather than call a repairman.
His travels included a Knights of Columbus national convention in New Orleans, a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Bermuda and a Penobscot Bay cruise aboard the schooner American Eagle. He had a deep appreciation for nature and the arts, especially music, taking in live performances such as Ray Charles and B.B. King.
A man of conviction, he was a gifted conversationalist who had a great interest in politics and current events, and a voracious reader who consumed a variety of local newspapers, national periodicals and historical fiction and nonfiction throughout his life. The last check he wrote, days before his death, was to renew his subscription to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, where his daughter, Kelley, is a staff writer.
Divorced in 1991, he retired from the Sun-Journal in 1995 and took an ad sales job with The Bar Harbor Times. He purchased a home on a wooded lot in the Town Hill section of Mount Desert Island, where he enjoyed maintaining his property and dabbled in gardening and photography. He later delivered rural mail and worked in Acadia National Park’s gift shops.
His community service ranged from president of the Farwell Elementary School PTA in the 1970s to member of the Bar Harbor Housing Authority from 2001 to 2006. A former parishioner of St. Patrick’s Church in Lewiston, he was a member of Holy Redeemer Church in Bar Harbor, American Legion Post 25 and the Knights of Columbus, serving as grand knight of Lewiston Council 106 from 1977 to 1979.
He shared his last decade with Patricia Curtis, whose love and companionship renewed his joie de vivre, fueled road trips across Maine and beyond, and led to many wonderful afternoons sipping red wine and chatting about current events and family achievements. He was most proud of his grandsons, Dr. Michael Bouchard II, a podiatry resident, and Matthew Bouchard, an insurance underwriter.
In addition to Ms. Curtis, he is survived by a son, Michael Bouchard, and his wife, Tina, of Lewiston; a daughter, Kelley Bouchard, of South Portland; two grandsons, Dr. Michael Bouchard II and Matthew Bouchard, both of Hoboken, N.J.; his former wife, Barbara Bouchard, of Lewiston and Marathon, Fla.; and many other relatives and friends.
Condolences and fond memories of Jerry may be shared at www.thefortingrouplewiston.com.
Visiting hours will be held Friday, Nov. 1, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Fortin/Lewiston. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m. at Holy Family Church, 607 Sabattus St., Lewiston. Burial will take place at a later date at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta.
Memorial donations may be made to the Lyme Disease Association, P.O. Box 1438, Jackson, NJ 08527, lymediseaseassociation.org or Honor Flight Maine, P.O. Box 1770, Portland, ME 04104, honorflightmaine.org. Arrangements are under the care of The Fortin Group Funeral Home, Cremation and Monument Services 70 Horton St., Lewiston, 784-4584.