Dean C. Letourneau, 74, who lived most of his life in Turners Falls, Mass., died Saturday, April 11, 2020 at the Soldiers Home of Holyoke, where he had lived since 2016.
Born in Montague, Mass., on December 13, 1945, he was the youngest of eight children of Bertha (Dube) and Herman Letourneau. He graduated from Turners Falls High School in 1964 and attended Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Mass. and Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. He also became a licensed realtor. In 1997, he graduated with honors from Briarwood College in Southington, Conn., where he earned an associate's degree in mortuary science and became a licensed funeral director and embalmer.
Dean enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served from 1965-66.
He was predeceased in 2000 by his wife of 31 years, Charlene R. (York) Letourneau. They met in high school and were married in St. Anne's Church in Turners Falls on May 24, 1969, by the Rev. Clarence Forand. He is survived by his daughters Nicole Letourneau and Danielle Letourneau-Therrien, both of Greenfield; sons-in-law Matthew Cavanaugh and Marc Therrien; grandsons Jonah, 12, and Julian, 9; and sister Sandra Dube of Belchertown. He also leaves numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brothers Edward, William, Herman, Robert, Brian and Bruce, and his parents, who died when Dean was still a young man. He was close with his mother-in-law, Gloria J. (Moody) York, who died in 1999, and his brother-in-law, Norman Dube, who died in 2018. He also leaves many dear friends.
Dean worked in paper mills and as a firefighter in Turners Falls, was manager for 18 years of Railroad Salvage stores in Turners Falls, Hadley, Chicopee and Connecticut. Later, he worked for several local funeral homes, assisting with funerals and as an embalmer. Most recently, he worked as a maintainer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, before retiring in 2013.
In 1980, he and Charlene built the house in Turners Falls where they lived most of their lives together and raised their children. After selling the house in 2012, Dean moved to Country Club Apartments in Turners Falls, and later the Arbors in Amherst, an assisted living facility, after his diagnosis with dementia. He lived at the Arbors until he moved to the Soldiers Home in 2016.
Dean loved his hometown of Turners Falls and was active in his community. He was a lifetime member of the Turners Falls Rod and Gun Club, where he had served as president. He was a member of the Turners Falls Fire District Prudential Committee, having served as chairman, and of the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee. He was a Massachusetts certified mediator and a notary public. He was a member of the Montague Elks and American Legion.
He was active with St. Anne's Church in Turners Falls and spearheaded a fundraising effort for its new steeple. He also organized and worked at most of the church's fundraising dinners and was a greeter and reader at church services. After St. Anne's Church closed, he joined Our Lady of Peace Church in Turners Falls, and continued his active involvement in the church community. He volunteered for the Missionaries of the Poor and traveled several times to Jamaica to carry out that organization's work there.
Dean volunteered for Hospice of Franklin County and community meals in Turners Falls. He donated goods and time to the former homeless shelter in Turners Falls. He donated furniture to the former After Hours Teen Center in Greenfield, which served Franklin County youth. He checked on his friends and neighbors often, especially the elderly. While working at Railroad Salvage, he was known to hire people, especially young people, when they needed a second chance in life.
His greatest joy in life was being a grandfather and a father. His favorite hobbies were spending time with his grandchildren, working in his yard, taking care of his pool, taking long walks and hikes around Poet's Seat Tower, collecting interesting items from yard sales and thrift stores, hosting family and friends at his house, and helping others with building or home-improvement projects, especially his daughters. He enjoyed eating out at local restaurants and was a regular at the Shady Glen. Dean loved animals, especially his dog, Zoey, who accompanied him almost everywhere. He was a writer, keeping a journal at various times in his life, including during his work with the Missionaries of the Poor, writing short stories and poetry since he was a young man, and taking writing classes through workplace education when he worked at UMass.
Dean had fond memories of family vacations and trips he and Charlene took over the years, including to Bermuda, Aruba, California, Montreal, Maine, Florida, New York, Cape Cod and various cruises. He visited his daughters when they lived in North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C.
Under arrangements by Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home in Greenfield, a private service will be held this week at the convenience of the family. A memorial Mass will be planned at a later date at Our Lady of Peace in Turners Falls and the family will plan a celebration of Dean's life for his many extended family members and friends.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to ServiceNet's Shelter and Housing Services, 131 King St., Northampton, MA, 01060 or the Friends of the Soldiers Home in Holyoke, PO Box 1338, Holyoke, MA 01041, [email protected]
Published by Recorder on Apr. 13, 2020.