September 24, 2013

Feature obituary: Real Paquette, 83, dry cleaning expert devoted to family

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Real "Ralph" Paquette, a longtime employee of the former Maine Cleaners in Saco, who devoted his life to family, died Saturday after a period of declining health. He was 83.

click image to enlarge

Real Paquette sits with his grandson, Andrew Miller Korda, and his granddaughter, Kristin Korda at the Miss Maine Sendoff in late August of this year.

Family photo

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

He was the loving husband of Marcelle Paquette, his wife for 56 years. He is also survived by his daughter, Janice Korda and her husband Jonathan, of Saco; and their two children, Andrew and Kristin Korda.

Mr. Paquette was born in St. Honore, Quebec, one of 12 children. At age 3, his family moved to Saco. He attended Saco schools and graduated from the eighth grade. Instead of attending high school, he went to work to help his family. He was later drafted in the Army and served during the Korean War.

In 1955, he met his wife at Rapid Ray's in Saco. She and her girlfriends were regulars, as were he and his brothers. One day, he noticed her.

"When he saw me, he said, 'that's the one,"' his wife recalled.

The young couple dated for two years before getting married in 1957. They lived in Biddeford. He worked at the former Maine Cleaners in Saco for 45 years. His wife said he enjoyed helping customers.

"He liked dry cleaning and running the machines and removing the spots from clothes. He enjoyed that," she said.

At home, Mr. Paquette was a devoted husband and father, who enjoyed spending time with his family. His wife reminisced about their life together, noting the weekends they spent at their camp at Indian Point on Sebago Lake. She said they went to camp every weekend in their retirement years.

"It was a place for the family to gather and relax next to the water," his wife said.

Mr. Paquette was a member of the Biddeford and Saco Lodge of Elks. He also volunteered at the information desk at Mercy Hospital in Portland for the past 16 years. He volunteered with his wife.

"He liked going to the hospital and being able to contribute something," she said. "We both enjoyed going to Mercy and volunteering."

His wife emphasized his love and support for his daughter and grandchildren. His grandson, Andrew Korda is a former U.S. Junior National ice dance champion and his granddaughter, Kristin Korda, is Miss Maine.

"He was so proud of them," his wife said. "He saw her get crowned Miss Maine. These kids are the apple of our eye."

Mr. Paquette's health began to decline this summer. He suffered from COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

"He was my best friend," his wife said. "That is what I'm going to miss the relationship we had. We shared everything. I could share anything with him."

 

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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