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1922 Rachel 2023

Rachel M. Girard

June 24, 1922 — August 3, 2023

West Boylston

   West Boylston: Rachel Marie (Beaudoin) Girard died peacefully at her home in West Boylston on Aug. 3, surrounded by family and friends and in the care of an exceedingly dedicated team of hospice nurses.

   Rachel was born on June 24, 1922, to her loving parents Adelard and Celina (Gosselin) Beaudoin in Laconia, NH. In addition to her parents, she grew up with 9 siblings: Theresa, Larry, Rene, Alfreda, Irene, Madeline, Cecile, Jacqueline, and Gerard. This large and loving family would be the first of many communities she would be a part of. In this community, she learned and lived many of the guiding lessons that permeated her 101 years. She learned to share, be considerate of others, appreciate others, accept others, and most of all, love others. She remained close and involved with her many siblings and their children, receiving and making calls and visits, even in her last weeks of life.

   She grew up on a small farm in Laconia, NH, where she developed her roots in loving and caring for animals as well as working in a garden. Not only did she gather eggs from her chickens or milk the cows, but she befriended them and could recall their names a century later.

   Rachel’s childhood on “the homestead” helped to cultivate her fierce independence and willingness to take on a variety of projects. Likewise, the values her family lived daily on the farm became lifelong values for Rachel, including hard work, confidence in taking on responsibility, creative problem-solving, and not putting off until tomorrow what one can do today.

    Her parents raised her Catholic, and she maintained a strong and living faith throughout her lifetime. Notably, her faith was both devout and intensely dedicated but also flexible and progressive. In her practice of Catholicism she remained open-minded, inclusive, compassionate, and profoundly humble. Rachel taught catechism at multiple parishes, worked ecumenically with many faiths, and started the Parish Nurse program at Our Lady of Good Counsel, her home church. She was a longtime Eucharistic Minister.

    Rachel found her calling as a nurse, graduating from Notre Dame de Lourdes nursing school in Manchester, NH, in 1944. She was a practical nurse who extended her skills to her neighbors, friends, family, animals, and to even her own care. She frequently shared that “getting old is high maintenance”. As any of her hospice nurses will tell you, she took an active role in her healthcare to the end.

    In 1950 she married her best friend’s older brother, Maurice J. Girard, and the couple moved to Portsmouth, NH. They shared a deep love and respect for one another throughout their fifty years of marriage. They passed on this love and respect to their children Guy Girard and Denise (Girard) Sullivan. Guy Girard passed away in July of 2022, but he remains in our hearts, and through her son, Rachel is survived by Guy’s loving wife Marge Girard, his daughter Kim Hobbs, and his sons Eric and Raymond Girard. Rachel was blessed with 5 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Her daughter, Denise Sullivan, lives in Maine with her husband William Sullivan, with whom they share three daughters, Elizabeth, Katherine, and Anna. Rachel was also blessed with several grand and great-grand-dogs. She is survived by many nieces and nephews, as well as grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

    In the small amount of downtime that Rachel had, she devoted herself to a number of hobbies. She was a talented wood carver, avid reader, and exceptional athlete. She enjoyed skiing, racquetball, and golf. In fact, Rachel was such an excellent golfer that she even managed to get a hole-in-one on two different occasions. She also loved traveling, whether on a parish group trip with her good friends Alice and Nathan, or with her buddies, Millie, Betty, and the two Shirleys.

   She remained a loving and committed family member and friend, while also being an exemplary nurse for the rest of her career. She began her career in the hospital as a surgical nurse, but went on to serve in many roles such as an X-ray technician for a Rhode Island doctor’s office and an Associate Chaplain in Pastoral Care at Fairlawn Hospital. She had an enduring dedication to working with people who faced a myriad of challenges that have often been unjustly stigmatized, including being unhoused, struggling with substance abuse, mental health problems, poverty, refugee status, and trauma. Her work as a community nurse in several facilities, such as the Chandler Street Center, Public Inebriate Program (P.I.P.), Worcester City Hospital, and the Battered Women and Children Family Shelter in Worcester, MA, exemplified this dedication.

   After volunteering for four months as a rehabilitation nurse at Khao-I-Dang Refugee Camp in Thailand, she returned to the U.S. to serve as the Supervisor of Refugee Resettlement House in Worcester, MA.

   Anyone who met Rachel was welcomed as a friend, and all of her friends knew what a gift she was. Although she was a direct, no-nonsense kind of lady, she also had an incredible depth of compassion and humor. She will be greatly missed and will live on in the hearts of all who knew her.

   A memorial mass will be held to honor Rachel Girard’s life on Friday August 11th, at 11:00 am at Our Lady of Good Counsel in West Boylston, MA. A burial of both Rachel and Maurice Girard will be held at Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, MA at a later date. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the charity of your choice.

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