Former 20-Year Haverhill Police Officer, Church Deacon Gaudreau Dies at 87

Robert J. Gaudreau.

Deacon Robert J. Gaudreau, 87, of Hampstead, formerly of Haverhill, passed away on Thursday, Feb. 15 surrounded by family at Lawrence General Hospital.

Born in Haverhill, Robert “Bob” Gaudreau was the son of the late Henry J. and Beatrice V. (Gauthier) Goudreault. He was a four-year member of the Air Force achieving rank of staff sergeant in the years following the Korean War Armistice, serving domestically and abroad in Iceland. He was a 20-year veteran of the Haverhill police department, achieving the rank of sergeant. After retiring he worked for a time at Merrimack College, and was later ordained by the Archdiocese of Boston as a deacon of the Catholic Church.

Deacon Bob, as he was known by all in the parish community, served at Sacred Hearts Church in Haverhill, where he taught CCD religious classes, performed weddings, funerals, baptisms and served as a Eucharistic minister to homebound parish members. He would spend his free time volunteering at local hospitals visiting and anointing the ill and sick.

Gaudreau met the love of his life Janice in the third grade at Sacred Hearts School in Haverhill. They grew up as childhood friends and were married at the age of 20 on his birthday, Sept. 8, in 1957. They raised four sons in Haverhill and shortly before retiring from the Haverhill police department, Bob and Jan moved their family to a farm outside of the city with land where they could raise their family, farm and raise a variety of farm animals. The animals were all a part of the family with dogs, chickens, pigs, sheep, cows and Bob’s favorites, a donkey named Mr. Jiggs and a milking cow named Elsie. Bob loved to buy used, antique farm equipment, with his sons running the farm with his collection of antiques.

After moving from the family farm to their retirement community, Bob enjoyed many of his hobbies and the lifelong companionship of Jan. One love of Bob’s was to ride around on his electric trike to fish the local pond. Robert loved cooking, reading and many genres of music, even playing one of his favorite genres, “elevator music,” to tease his grandchildren. He would sit for hours playing his vinyls and singing out loud, always putting a smile on his face. As the years passed, music was always his happy place.

Bob “Papa Bob” Gaudreau took a very active role in mentoring his grandchildren Joseph and Meisi. From his early days teaching Joe how to use the tools in the barn and tend to the garden and family property, to his teenage years teaching him to golf and spending countless hours together on the golf course, Papa Bob had a lasting impact on his grandson as he grew. With four sons and a grandson, his granddaughter Meisi held a special place in his heart and was affectionately nicknamed “THE girl.” Meisi would spend hours with her grandparents doing arts and crafts, reading stories, playing cards and whenever asked ‘Who loves you baby girl,’ Mesi’s answer was always Papa.

The love Papa Bob and Jan “Grammy Jan” had for their grandchildren was demonstrated countless times as they supported their education, both academically and in faith, as both Joseph and Meisi attended Central Catholic High School. The love and respect went in both directions as Joseph and his wife Rose asked Papa Bob to preside over their wedding ceremony and marry them. Papa Bob turned into GREAT, Papa Bob, with the arrivals of Jayce Robert, Grant Joseph, and Rhett James—Bob’s great grandchildren. Papa Bob has always and will always be a large presence in all of their lives.

Bob was always a larger-than-life character.  He loved helping others, and the love was always reciprocated back by all that knew him.  He will be truly missed.

He is survived by his loving wife Janice M. (Kennedy) Gaudreau, and sons Matthew Gaudreau of Hampstead, Robert Gaudreau Jr. and his wife Nora of Cape Coral, Fla., John Gaudreau and his wife New of Auburn, N.H., and Andrew Gaudreau and his wife Shelby, of Danville, N,H. He also leaves behind his sister Mary (Goudreault) Whittaker, grandchildren Joseph and Meisi Gaudreau, and great grandchildren Jayce, Grant and Rhett Gaudreau.

Memorial donations may be made in his name to the Sacred Hearts Food Pantry.

Family and friends are respectfully invited to attend calling hours on Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 4-6 p.m., at the Kevin B. Comeau Funeral Home, 486 Main St., Haverhill. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. at Sacred Hearts Church South Main St. Bradford.  Interment will follow at the Elmwood Cemetery Mausoleum, Salem Street, Bradford.

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