JAFFREY - Michele Andrea Belletete, 65, of Jaffrey, died peacefully in her sleep Dec. 7, 2012, at home with her family by her side.
The Guest Book is expired.
Michele was born on Oct. 20, 1947, in Manchester, daughter of Eudore and Cecile (Tessier) Paquette. She grew up in Manchester and was a 1965 graduate of Memorial High School.
She moved to Jaffrey in 1976 to raise a family and later decided to become a nurse.
In 1980, she earned her LPN from St. Joseph's School of Practical Nursing, which was the start of her career helping others. She received nursing degrees from Mt. Wachusett Community College in 1985 and from Rivier College in 1997, graduating with honors.
Michele worked at the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene for 20 years, primarily as a rehabilitation nurse. In 1990, she joined Intercultural Nursing on a mission to Haiti to help the underprivileged sick and dying. She was immediately taken by the overwhelming need and began her true calling of helping the poor.
In 1993 she became the second president of Intercultural Nursing and led numerous trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. After serving as president of Intercultural Nursing, she continued making several trips a year to Haiti, organizing clinics to assist wherever the need was greatest, all without the formal backing of any organization. She loved the work and the people of Haiti, and they in turn loved her. She provided financial support to several orphans to continue their schooling and was most proud of one young man who is now serving as a doctor in Haiti.
Michele also served with Medecins Sans Frontieres, better known as Doctors Without Borders, for four years before getting brain cancer in 2010. With MSF, she spent nine months at a birthing clinic in Haiti, did two missions in Africa one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and one in Zimbabwe. She also went on a second mission to Haiti following the devastating earthquake in 2010.
In 2001 she was recognized by the Dorothy Day-Thomas Merton Foundation for her work of peace, justice and mercy. In 2007, she was honored as a Hero for International Services by the American Red Cross. She was also recognized for her courage, leadership and dedication to the Haitian people by St. Jude-Ann's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
On one of her early trips to Haiti, she met Sister Annata of the Missionaries of Charity and formed an immediate bond with the organization affiliated with Blessed Mother Teresa. Michele affectionately referred to the congregation as "the MCs" and held them near and dear to her heart, often travelling far and wide to help. Michele was also an associate of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary with whom she kept very close ties.
In between her many volunteer missions, Michele always made time to be on the pond for the summers. She loved spending time with her family and in her magnificent gardens. She was also an avid hiker. She climbed Mt. Monadnock countless times, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2003 and in 2008 she completed the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a 500-mile solo trek across Spain.
Michele is survived by her son, Lance and his wife, Leah in Seattle, Wash., her son Aaron in Moxee, Wash., and daughter Maria Shea and her husband, Tim of Centennial, Colo.; seven grandchildren; her sister, Suzanne Merrill of Weare, and her sister, Jocelyn Paquette of St. George, Maine.
SERVICES: As per Michele's request, there will be no calling hours.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 at St. Patrick Church, 89 Main St., in Jaffrey. Family friends Father Tom Hagan, O.S.F.S. of Hands Together in Haiti and Father Richard Kelley of Saint Christopher's Parish in Nashua will co-officiate.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to Hands Together, PO Box 80987, Springfield, Mass. 01138 or online at www.handstogether.org.
To view an online memorial, send a condolence to Michele's family, or for more information, please visit www.cournoyerfh.com.
Cournoyer Funeral Home & Cremation Center
33 River Street
Jaffrey, NH 03452-0486
Published in Union Leader on Dec. 13, 2012