Germaine Marie Leclair – South Burlington

Germaine Marie Leclair, 91, of South Burlington, died Aug. 27, 2013, in Birchwood Terrace Healthcare, after suffering a fall near her home. Germaine was born on Dec. 4, 1921, in St. Chrysostome, Quebec, Canada, the second of five children born to Valerie (Giroux) and Albert Bouchard. Germaine helped on the family farm and helped families in the neighborhood. At the age of 21, she had a chance to go to Valleyfield to work in the cotton mills. Her husband, Rolland Leclair, also of St. Chrystostome, moved to Vermont when he was 11. They met when he returned to St. Chrysostome for the town’s centennial celebration. They married on June 1, 1946, and shortly after moved to Vermont. Germaine and Rolland raised six children on their Charlotte farm. In the mid-fifties, Germaine started to look for ways to supplement the meager milk checks to provide more for her children. She started sewing dresses for some neighbors, ironing for others, and wallpapering. Germaine took care of children after all her own had moved out, caring for over 160, sometimes having 10 at a time on the farm. Rolland and Germaine never made a lot of money, but they did all they could to provide a better life than they had growing up. When Germaine was young, her father had brought home a piano, and later on a violin, and a guitar. Soon, Germaine had learned basic chords on the piano, and a little guitar, but her favorite instrument was the violin. Her children often heard the stories about all the houses their mother’s band had played music in around their community, and the all-nighters they performed at home parties and weddings – stories of musicians setting up on top of kitchen tables, and square dancing in all the rooms of the old farmhouses in the neighborhood. On Sunday nights, Germaine would take her fiddle out and play her favorite reels and French Canadian tunes. After her children were grown, Rolland and Germaine started to attend the Fiddlers’ events, with Germaine sometimes joining the musicians to play for the dancers. Germaine recently celebrated her 28th year as cashier of the Queen City Contra Dancers. Rolland passed away in November 1982, a life changing event for Germaine. In 1986, Germaine sold the family farm and moved to Burlington. Germaine adapted to city life, making a lot of new friends and learning to navigate the bus system. She continued to do sewing and alterations for her many customers, as well as ironing and many other odd jobs for anyone who would pick her up and bring her back home. A Burlington family even flew her to Nantucket to do some wallpapering in their island home. She also spent a lot of time quilting, and made over 50 quilts. Germaine collected books and educated herself beyond any formal education she had received in Canada. She was interested in all subjects. She was very proud to have published two books, one of true stories about animals called “Animals Don’t Talk,” and “Vermont Vignettes in Word and Line.” Her Catholic faith was most important to her. She was even known to hitchhike to church if no one was around to drive her there. Among Germaine’s survivors is Rebecca and Steve Longe of Shelburne and 10 great-grandchildren. Germaine was predeceased by her husband, Rolland in 1982; sons, Maurice in 1991, and his twin, Richard, who died at birth in 1952; and grandson, Joseph Swett in 1998. Germaine’s family wishes to thank the neighbors who helped her the day of her fall, the staff at Fletcher Allen, who treated her that day, and especially the staff at Birchwood who treated her so lovingly and kindly the last week of her life.

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