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Doris Ann McNamara Thabault

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BURLINGTON -- Doris Ann McNamara Thabault, 82, a longtime Burlington resident, former nurse and wife of the late Dr. Wilfrid Thabault, died peacefully in the comfort of her home on April 2, 2006. Mrs. Thabault had lived with Alzheimer’s disease for many years.

Doris was born in Ogdensburg, N.Y., on Oct. 30, 1923, to the late John F. and Clara (Gillespie) McNamara. She was the proud and loving mother of nine children, and for 56 years, she was the devoted wife of Dr. Thabault, a longtime physician in the Burlington area.

Doris, the eldest of 13 children, graduated from Mount St. Joseph’s Academy in Rutland in 1941. She received her R.N. diploma in 1945 from the Fanny Allen School of Nursing, where she was the valedictorian. She was a member of the Women’s Army Nurses Corps in Fort Devens, Mass., during World War II.

Following graduation from the Fanny Allen School, she worked at the Fanny Allen Hospital, where she met her future husband, who was then a medical intern. After they married, the couple moved to New Haven, Conn., where Dr. Thabault did his residency and Doris worked as a nurse at St. Raphael’s Hospital. Doris loved nursing and she shared her wisdom, care and compassion with others.

In the mid 1950s Doris and Wilfrid lived in Japan at Johnson Air Force Base while Dr. Thabault served in the U.S. Air Force. After returning to the United States, they settled in Burlington, where Dr. Thabault opened a medical practice in obstetrics and gynecology. They became members of St. Anthony’s parish, where Doris was an active member.

Doris and Wilfred loved traveling and took many memorable trips together, including to Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Alaska, the Gaspe Peninsula and the Calgary Olympics. They also enjoyed extensive travels with their children. Most memorable were the many camping trips the family took to the ocean, and the lobster feeds that ensued. Doris was an exceptional mother and left many examples for her children to follow. She will be remembered as the mother who ran a tight ship.

Doris was gracious and generous. She hosted many joyous celebrations for family and friends, especially festive meals at Cherry Lane during the holidays. Doris will be remembered for her green thumb in the garden, her tortiere and cranberry nut bread at Christmas, and her love of song and dance. She particularly loved singing the Irish tune “McNamara’s Band,” and often joked that in her next life she would return as a singer and a dancer.

Doris was an active member of her community. She generously volunteered her time to the Fanny Allen Auxiliary, provided religious education for children with special needs, and volunteered for Meals on Wheels. For many years, Doris was a hospice volunteer, providing end of life care to many. Her example of caregiving and devotion to the church served as an inspiration to all who shared in caring for Doris throughout her illness.

Doris was kind, gracious and elegant. She was devoted to her siblings, helping to raise, love and nurture them. Doris was a dear friend to many. She and her friends enjoyed traveling, skiing and playing cards. Doris especially enjoyed playing bridge with her dedicated bridge partner, Elizabeth Cannon. Together, they were very proud whenever they “set the big boys.”

Doris is survived by her children, Suzanne C. Thabault Pisanelli and husband, Dr. Victor Pisanelli, of Rutland, Isabelle M. Thabault of Washington, D.C., Bernard T. Thabault of Washington, D.C., Georgette Thabault and her husband, Robert Blount, of Hattiesburg, Miss., Paulette J. Thabault and husband, Dr. Peter Gunther, of South Burlington, Denise C. Thabault of Sarasota, Fla., Dr. Noelle C. Thabault and her husband, Dr. John Coco, of Clarendon, Bridget M. Thabault and her husband, John St. Francis, of Burlington, and Patrice L. Thabault of Burlington; her 12 beloved grandchildren, Kristina, Stephanie, Matthew and Andrew Pisanelli, Sarah Thabault, Erik, Kaitlin and Luke Johnson, Andrew and Betsy Coco, Wilfred and Brima St. Francis, and two stepgrandchildren, Jamie and Sasha Gunther; her sisters, Nancy McNamara Lenney of Naples, Fla., and Martha McNamara Druke of Kirkville, N.Y.; her brothers, John E. McNamara of Ogdensberg, N.Y., Richard McNamara of Benson, Ariz., Daniel McNamara and Donald McNamara of South Colton, N.Y., and Michael McNamara of Colton, N.Y.; an aunt, Elizabeth Kelly, 106 years young, of Syracuse, N.Y.; and many devoted nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by an infant son, her angel, Gabriel; her siblings David, Robert, Bernard, James and Douglas McNamara.

The family extends its deep gratitude to Karen Meriam, a dear friend and dedicated caregiver for Doris and Wilfrid. The family takes deep comfort in knowing that Doris and Wilfrid received such loving and devoted care from her. The family expresses its great appreciation to Dr. Peter Gunther for the compassionate care he provided to Doris. The family thanks Shayla Reynolds, Sylvia Macaig and Crissy Sears for their kind care of Doris. The family also sincerely thanks Jean Sheehey for her ongoing love, friendship and support, and especially for her Thursday nights with Mrs. T.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated in St. Anthony’s Church at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 5. Calling hours will be held on Tuesday, April 4, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the LaVigne Funeral Home, 132 Main St., Winooski. Memorial contributions may be made to the Father Paul Thabault Memorial Scholarship Fund, Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845, or the Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont, 172 North Main St., Barre, VT 05641.
Published in Bennington Banner from Apr. 3 to Apr. 4, 2006
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