Albert Leo Garand of Hancock, N.H., died Sunday, August 4 at the Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, N.H., after a brief hospital stay. He was 93. Three months ago, he lost his wife of 72 years, Louise Mary Garand. For the past 67 years, they lived in Hancock, where they raised seven children: Albert Clifford (now deceased), Laura Paradis, Nancy Driscoll, Phyllis Somes, John, and twins Betsey and Brenda.
Albert was born on April 18, 1920 in Waterford, Vt. His heritage was French Canadian and Abenaki, and his first spoken language was French, which he spoke eight years before learning English. He began his career at the young age of 11, working on many farms in Vermont and Massachusetts, horse logging, growing and picking tobacco, tending cows, and raising, herding, and shearing sheep. He was very proud of raising the best-in-show of a Southdown sheep in the North American Livestock Fair in Chicago, Ill. He also won the award for the best sheep shearer, beating out his Australian and New Zealand competitors. Albert would also compete in herding competitions with his Scottish born border collies, Jock and Jed, who he trained with hand signals.
When he was 20-years-old, he acquired a job as shepherd of a flock of 2,000 sheep on Martha’s Vineyard. It was there that he met his wife, Louise. They were wed in 1941. In 1944, Albert joined the masons and subsequently became a member of the Altemont Lodge #26 in Peterborough, N.H. In June of 2005 he was honored in a ceremony at the lodge recognizing his 60 years of membership.
A World War II veteran, Albert served for one year in the Navy beginning in 1945 on the USS Barnett. He travelled to Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Caroline Islands, and the Philippines. He was in the Second Division in charge of a 20mm gun on four-hour watches. He claimed to have had a bit of practice shooting these good weapons, but the comfort level of the Norton sights was “terrible.” He always mentioned how he never slept below deck, but always on deck, in case the ship went down he would have some chance of survival.
In 1946 Albert was hired in Hancock for the Briggs Farm as shepherd to their flock on Skatutakee Mountain. At the time, there was a baffling ailment killing sheep. Albert did an autopsy on some of the sheep and discovered lungworms. He subsequently showed his discovery to veterinarian Dr. Forrest Tenney, who wrote about it in his book.
As his family grew, so did the need for better paying employment. Albert began a carpentry business, building many homes in the Hancock area, including repairing old barns and building stonewalls.
Farming was a constant in Albert’s life. His small family farm provided fresh dairy products, meats and vegetables for his family and many friends. He made sure all of his children learned how to garden and farm, because he “did not want them to go hungry in case there was another depression.” Albert’s manner with animals was lead by a great respect he had for each life. In his retirement years, he befriended a wild garter snake that would come each day to take a worm out of his hand. Swallows would greet him each morning as he began gardening. In fact, these swallows gave him a special salute by flying around his head when they left for the season. His granddogs Mig, Mouton and Snow will sorely miss the attention and treats he bestowed upon them. As will his feline friend Pretty Cloud, who he tamed as an abandoned, feral kitten.
Longtime family friends Mary Wakeman and Dickie Patton helped to make his final days much easier. Dickie helped split wood and Mary helped Albert plant his last garden. His dear neighbors Sy Montgomery, Howard Mansfield and their border collie friend Sally would stop by frequently, sharing stories and baked goodies. His neighbors Bobbie and Jarvis Coffin frequently bestowed baked gifts and offered help. The caregivers Deb Carr and Brigitte Leger befriended Albert during Louise’s difficult last months and continued to show him numerous kindnesses since her passing. Yet it was the devotion and care from his daughters Betsey and Brenda and his dear friend Paul Lavoie Jr. that enabled Albert to remain at home and live peacefully and comfortably for so many years.
In addition to his children, Albert’s family includes sons in law René Meyer and Michael Driscoll; Louis Pakenham from Québec; Allyson McCabe; three grandchildren, Jessica Mansell and her partner Jim, Michelle and her husband Christopher Nye, and Erik and his wife Jenny Simonetta; and great-grandchildren, Tyler and Samantha Mansell, Patrick, Gabrielle and Nicholas Nye, and twins Ava and Lucas Simonetta; his cherished brother in law, Robert W. Kelley and daughter Shirley Cioffi; and nieces Diane Garand Gilman, Joane Garand, Janet Edwards, Laura, Kelley and Alexandra Akerly. Albert was also the adopted grandfather of the Surette women Heidi, Amy and Julie.
His brother and life-long friend Reginald and wife Gloria also survive him in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Reginald was Albert’s closest brother of nine siblings, and over the years shared many brotherly moments together. “Reggie,” as Albert fondly called him, loved to recount a story in which during the depression years, his beloved brother Albert, 10 years his senior, bought him a bicycle. No small feat. Reggie rode that bike around their small town of Vermont until the tires were worn out and continued to ride it on the rims! All who knew Albert have stories that will remain with them. He was a kind and talented man. It is hoped that these stories will be passed down through the generations.
The Garand family would like to extend a deep gratitude to all of the many outstanding health professionals that cared for Albert and his wife, Louise, over the past few years: the doctors, nurses and staff at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Keene and Lebanon; their primary care physician Dr. Carrie Klonel and the team of nurses and staff at Antrim Medical Group; the team at Pheasant Wood Center where Albert spent two and half weeks in physical therapy; the staff from Home Healthcare Hospice & Community Services in Keene and the dedicated medical volunteers from the Hancock Fire Department and town of Hancock who were first on the scene until emergency ambulance transport on numerous occasions.
Thank you to all of the friends of both Albert and Louise Garand who sent kind notes of sympathy and letters of condolence. It has been a welcome solace to the family.
The respect and care given both deceased parents by Jellison Funeral Home of Peterborough was greatly appreciated by the family. Thank you to Julie Thibault, Daniel L. Keaveny and Traci Denver.
According to Albert’s wishes, there will be no funeral ceremony.