Claudette Godbout Lafontaine1932-2022
Claudette Giselle Godbout Lafontaine, 90 years old, died December 31, 2022 surrounded by family at the Mont Marie Nursing Home after dealing gracefully with dementia for years. Born to Emile and Albertine Godbout in Fairfax, Vermont on April 20, 1932, she was the third of ten children. Claudette spoke solely French until she entered school, where her first word in English was "mouse," upon seeing one in the coatroom. Raised on a dairy farm, she milked six cows before going to school each day. Brought up to be self-sufficient, she learned to cook, bake, sew, knit, braid rugs, garden and take care of her younger siblings. A Christmas present was meant to be shared by all family members. Determined to complete high school with a class in bookkeeping, she was the first child in the family to do so, graduating from St. Albans High School in 1950.
Upon graduation, she moved to Willimansett, MA, living with her mother's sister and husband, Irene and Rene Perrault and their children Lillian and Donald. Her first employment entailed sewing baseballs at the Spaulding Factory in Chicopee, MA. Always having a love for numbers, she subsequently worked as a bookkeeper at Wrap King in Holyoke where she met Paul Lafontaine, a machinist, when she had to process his new employee paperwork. They married November 10, 1956 and moved to Southampton, MA where they raised their three daughters in a pink house on Wolcott Road. A fervent believer in women's rights and the strength and intelligence of women, she encouraged her daughters' independence and resilience in the face of challenges.
A stay at home mother for twelve years, Claudette was an expert seamstress and knitter. She created matching Easter dresses and coats for her daughters for years, curtains and drapes for her home, and her daughter Laura's wedding dress. Later, she learned to quilt with her daughter Linda. Her family and grandchildren, as well as most of her nieces and nephews, were the grateful recipients of her knitting handiwork including mittens, sweaters, hats, and scarves in their favorite colors. Her love of math served her well as she was an election worker for the Town of Southampton when votes were tallied by hand. An accomplished gardener, her rock garden on Wolcott Road was admired by all who passed. Pies, cookies, and muffins could always be found in her kitchen, and she was known for her potato salad and deviled eggs. She loved a good card game, particularly pitch. For years she served as a Girl Scout Leader, organizing meetings, cookouts and camping. Although fearful of swimming, she made sure her daughters could swim. A member of the Southampton Mother's Club, she enjoyed connecting with other mothers in town. A decades long member of the Notre Dame Church, she was a member of the Ladies of Saint Anne and served on the Parish Festival Tag Sale Committee. Upon the closing of Notre Dame Church, she became a parishioner at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Westfield. Long a proponent of exercise before it was fashionable, she attended aerobics and once retired from her 9-5 job, walked four miles daily making sure to stop at "Cumbies" for coffee. She loved to read while eating a piece of cheese, but the story had to be "real" focusing on autobiographies and biographies of women, many of which were gifts from her daughter Ellen. An animal lover, she was often seen walking their dog Sheba, and took delight when her children's cats would sit with her. Looking forward to the fall, she enjoyed her annual pilgrimage to Vermont for apples and maple syrup. Upon moving to a condominium complex in Southampton in 2006, she cherished the many friendships she created with her neighbors.
Upon reentering the workforce, she was initially employed at Borowski Insurance Agency in Northampton. Claudette was also employed at Western Mass Hospital, becoming the first junior accountant to balance the budget, earning her a trip to Boston to recognize her accomplishment. She worked at various other businesses including Jubinville Insurance, New England Apple Organization and H and R Block throughout her career, taking a short break while she battled breast cancer in 1986. Upon retiring as a bookkeeper, she enjoyed working retail at Lord and Taylor in the Holyoke Mall, ultimately retiring from the workforce when she was 72.
Raised in a close-knit family, she spent much time with her brothers and sisters. She frequently visited her sister Marielle and her three children in Fairview MA and attended the Brimfield Fair regularly with her sisters Pauline and Rita. Additionally, she traveled to Sint Maarten for two weeks in March where she and Paul vacationed with her sister Rita and brother-in-law Dave. For years, she organized the "Godbout Family Picnic'' at Look Park. She thoroughly enjoyed family parties with her daughters, their spouses and all the grandchildren. Joyous at the birth of each grandchild, she celebrated every one of their accomplishments. Driving a small, white Toyota pickup truck, she embarked upon many adventures in the New England area to visit with family and deliver presents she found for them on her travels.
Claudette will be dearly missed by her husband Paul of 66 years, as well as her three daughters, Linda and her husband Raymond Lacourse of Southampton MA, Laura and her husband Peter Flynn of Townsend MA, and Ellen and her husband Neal Heinze of Westfield NJ, her seven grandchildren, Joseph Lacourse, Rachel Lacourse, Erin Flynn, Sarah Flynn Kokocinski, Emma Heinze, Caroline Heinze and William Heinze and great grandson, Graham Kokocinski. She also leaves her brothers Marc and Rene, her sisters Lucille, Pauline and Rita, and over 50 nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents, Emile and Albertine Godbout, her brothers Henry and Lionel, and her sisters Marielle and Cecile.
The family appreciated the care she received from Highland Valley Elder Care and Mercy Adult Day Care. Additionally, the family would also like to thank the dedicated third floor staff at the Mont Marie Nursing Home for their compassionate care of Claudette. We realized she was in "good hands" during the many months she resided at the facility.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (www.bcrf.org).
A Calling hour will be from 9 to 10 on Saturday January 7 at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, 127 Holyoke Street, Westfield, followed by a Funeral Mass at 10AM. Burial will be at St. Brigid Cemetery, 91 Everett Street, Easthampton. Boucher – O'Brien Funeral Home in Easthampton is assisting the family.