February 7, 2013

Feature obituary: Roland Bouthillette, 88, sociable, hard-working shipyard boss

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Roland Bouthillette, a longtime superintendent at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, who had a passion for playing golf and cards, died Tuesday night with his family by his side. He was 88.

click image to enlarge

Roland Bouthillette with his granddaughter Emma at the beach in July 2012.

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.

Mr. Bouthillette worked for the shipyard for more than 30 years. In his early years, he was a laborer and painter. He rose through the ranks to become general foreman, then group superintendent. For many years, he worked the night shift. He managed nearly 100 workers, including his son, Peter Bouthillette, of Biddeford.

His son said Wednesday that he was highly respected among Navy officials. "He enjoyed his work dealing with people and getting things done," said his son. "I kind of wondered sometimes how he was able to get people to get things accomplished. He wasn't there to please the people on top. He was there to take care of his boys and get the job done."

He retired in 1986.

Mr. Bouthillette was a life-long resident of Biddeford.

He attended local schools and enlisted in the Navy in 1943. He served as a cook on the USS Clay in the South Pacific during World War II. He was discharged in 1945 and returned home to Biddeford to his wife, Gisele Bouthillette. The couple was married for 43 years and raised two sons.

He was remembered by his family Wednesday as a good man who worked hard and enjoyed his time with family and friends.

For many years, the Bouthillettes spent summers at a cottage he built at Fortunes Rocks Beach in Biddeford.

"He loved entertaining the family and relaxing," his son said. "He enjoyed playing horseshoes and bocce ball."

His granddaughter, Emma Bouthillette, shared fond memories Wednesday of their time at the beach. She said in an email that her Pepere taught her how to body surf and how to count by playing cribbage. She recalled the last day she spent with him -- eating George's Italian subs in his kitchen, fantasizing about sipping cocktails on his patio this summer.

"Going back to the cottage this summer will be hard, but we're going to go and enjoy it because that's what he loved best," his granddaughter said in the email. "He loved the summer days when lots of people were at the cottage enjoying the beach enjoying what he built for us."

Mr. Bouthillette's wife died of breast cancer in 1988.

Soon after, he found love again. He was in a relationship with Muriel Belanger for more than 20 years. The couple enjoyed dancing and socializing with friends.

Mr. Bouthillette spent his spare time playing golf and cards with his friends, such as Maurice Bernard, of Biddeford.

"He was as good as I was," Bernard said of Mr. Bouthillette's golf game. "We had great times playing together and kidding each other and so forth."

The two played cards a couple times a week until recently.

"Roland was a nice guy. He was a plain nice guy, period," Bernard said. "I'll miss meeting him and him telling me where to go after he lost at cards."

 

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

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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