FALMOUTH – Eloi Joel Bois served in World War II as a paratrooper, helped new parents get through some of their most troubling times and traveled throughout the world, visiting more than 60 countries.

The longtime resident of Falmouth died Thursday at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough after a brief illness.

Mr. Bois, who preferred to be called Joel, was 90 years old.

“Being Franco-American was a big deal for him,” said his daughter Suzette Bois of South Portland. “He acted as an interpreter (during World War II) and made umpteen trips to France throughout his life.”

Mr. Bois was born to Ovide and Sophie Bois in Winterville, a small community in Aroostook County. He was one of 11 children and outlived all of his brothers and sisters.

He joined the Army during World War II, serving in France and Germany as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.

After the war ended, Mr. Bois re-enlisted. He was stationed in the Philippines, where he worked as editor of a military newspaper called the Daily Pacifican.

When he returned to the United States, he worked for a newspaper in Lewiston called La Messenger.

In 1953, Mr. Bois married Betty Kragelund of Portland. In 1955, they moved to Blackstrap Road in Falmouth, where they raised three daughters — and a lot of roses.

Mr. Bois had an impressive garden that enticed drivers to stop and take photographs, Suzette Bois said.

“He was a huge gardener,” she said.

In the mid-1950s he went to work for the March of Dimes, which was formerly known as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

Suzette Bois said her grandfather owned a building in Portland’s Monument Square that also housed the March of Dimes office. Her father went to work for the agency and became the organization’s executive director for Maine. He worked at the March of Dimes for 17 years.

Although he spent a lot of time recruiting and organizing volunteers, Mr. Bois also tried to coordinate funding and services for parents whose children had suffered birth defects. Polio was prevalent at that time.

“Eventually, the March of Dimes expanded into dealing with all types of birth defects,” his daughter said. “He’d meet with families and figure out how he could help them.”

After Mr. Bois retired, he became a world traveler. His daughter said he visited more than 60 countries, including China, Ethiopia, South Africa, Australia, Russia and nations in northern Africa and South America.

“He had this incredible interest in different countries and how people in those countries lived,” his daughter said.

In addition to gardening and travel, Mr. Bois made clocks and did woodworking and antique restoration in his spare time.

“He could fix anything. Back then, you had to figure out how to do something on your own, especially if you could not afford to have someone else do it for you,” his daughter said.

A memorial service will be held in May at the Maine Veterans Cemetery in Augusta.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]