St. Louis High School in Biddeford ~ a gifted teacher is remembered

It is with great sadness that our L’Heureux family mourns the loss of Roger Armand L’Heureux, my brother-in-law, who died on February 5, 2018, in Melrose, MA, with his family at his side. The alumni of St. Louis High School in Biddeford knew him as Brother Gilbert.

Roger and Jeannine L'Heureux

Jeannine Rochefort L’Heureux and Roger A. L’Heureux were married for 46 years.

He died after a declining illness with Myasthenia Gravis.  A Funeral Mass was celebrated on February 13, 2018, at Incarnation Parish, Melrose MA.  The eulogy was a tribute to his life, given by Steve L’Heureux, the oldest son of Roger and his wife Jeannine.

Like nearly all Franco-American families, Roger valued education and love of family. He grew up in Sanford, Maine, speaking French at home. During his teenage years, he entered the religious life and became a teaching Brother, with the Brothers of Christian Instruction, entering the order in Alfred Maine.

As an educator, L ‘Heureux was beloved by the Biddeford, St. Louis High School alumni. Brother Gilbert, was a respected Principal, coach and teacher. He was one of the last to lead the high school’s administration, before it was closed, in 1970, by the Diocese of Portland.

In the St. Louis High School Alumni Association website, the reason for the closing was financial.

Patricia Therrien Boston of Biddeford is a 1970, graduate of St. Louis High School. “My years as a student at St. Louis High School are rich with memories of friendships I continue to enjoy because we were a close community of students and faculty. I think this is reflected in that fact that our class of 1970, which was the last graduating class, has held reunions every 5 years!  And, as the youngest member of the class of  ’70, I like to brag that I hold the unofficial title of the last-born St. Louis High School graduate!”

In fact, St. Louis High School was created in response to the educational needs of the French-Canadian immigrants who arrived in Biddeford by the thousands to work. St. Louis High School in Boston Alumni Association

French Canadians were welcomed in Biddeford, because of their good work ethic and to provide labor for the city’s mills. On the St. Louis website, they are described as being “industrious in the extreme, do not grumble about pay, are docile and have nothing to do with labor agitation”. French Canadians were essential to the labor force needed in the 1860’s, and into the 20th century, when the United States produced 75% of the worlds cotton.

French Canadians embraced the chance for economic and social promotion through education. Indeed, they were grateful for St. Louis when it was founded, and it was popular among the Franco-Americans who sent their children there, to receive a parochial school education.

Under the administration of Brother Leo Moses (1967 – 1968), and of Brother Gilbert LHeureux, (1968 – 1969), academic life continued on an even keel and the school fielded a powerhouse football team, and one of the first bands in the state.

Steven Roger L’Heureux, was the eulogist at his father’s funeral Mass.

In fact, Steven and his brother Brian reviewed their father’s full life of achievements, from before they were born. Their father had already been a talented athlete, teacher and had the experience of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, when he was in Tanzania, Africa, before they were born.Roger L'Heureux Mount Kilimanjaro Africa

“Whether you knew him as Roger, Pepere, Dad, Brother Gilbert, or Minou the common thread that everyone talks about was how his smile lit up a room and his laughter was contagious. He loved his wife of 46 years and their marriage is how it is supposed to go. He loved being a dad, and then being a Pepere.”

“Family was important to him. There never was a snowstorm that would stop him from getting to Maine for a family Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

“I know that Dad was truly someone who appreciated the simple things in life. He was never one to care what someone else had. He was comfortable with what he earned and achieved. He told me once that always wanting what your neighbor had must be a horrible way to live and that has been advice I live by.”

Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa ~ remembered in the eulogy by his son Steven R. L’Heureux.

In my own family, we were particularly grateful when Roger drove, in a snowstorm, to pick us up at the Boston Logan Airport, in 1977, meeting us, as we were on the last flight cleared for landing. We were arriving home after three years living in the Philippines, when my husband was serving in the US Navy.

Obituary: Roger A. L’Heureux, 89, grew up in Sanford, ME with his brothers William, Gilbert, Richard, and sister Paulette. He attended The Brothers of Christian Instruction School in Alfred, ME and joined The Order as Brother Gilbert. During this time he shared his gift of teaching math and science to many students in locations including The St. Louis School in Biddeford ME, Plattsburgh NY, and in Tanzania, Africa.

He made the most of his two years in Africa by climbing the tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. On returning from Africa he was married to Jeannine (Rochefort) L’Heureux, of Biddeford, and they settled in Plymouth, MA, where they raised their family. He continued his love of teaching at Dennis Yarmouth High School, for 32 years, into his 70’s.

He continued to volunteer through his 85th birthday as a teacher at the public library and at St Peter’s Church, in Plymouth. Roger loved spending time with his family and friends, reading with and playing with his granddaughters, maintaining his yard, building in his shop, rooting for the Boston sports teams, and traveling with his wife. He was the beloved husband of 46 years to Jeannine (Rochefort) L’Heureux and devoted father of Steven L’Heureux and his wife Joanne of Herndon, VA, and Brian L’Heureux and his wife Lee-Ann of Melrose, MA. Cherished Pepère of Noelle, Caroline, and Cadence. Roger is survived by many nieces, nephews, and dear friends.

Memorial condolences can be posted on the obituary.

Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.