BIDDEFORD — Following a lengthy illness, long-time former state Rep. Paulette Beaudoin died Friday at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

According to her family, Beaudoin suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, for many years.

The Biddeford native is survived by: her husband of 61 years, Roger; daughters, Diane Turgeon of Saco and Susan Beaulieu of Biddeford, as well as her “adopted daughter,” Laure Wilensky Pinette of  Virginia; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. 

Beaudoin worked as a secretary for many years. It was after she retired that the 83-year-old Democrat ran for the Maine House of Representatives. She served eight years as the representative for District 135, from 2006 to 2014, which included part of Biddeford; she was 71 when she was first elected and ended her last term at the age of 80 — the state limits legislators to four consecutive terms.

Turgeon said after her mother retired she became interested in the prescription drug issue — prior to Medicare including prescription drug coverage plans.

“She organized bus trips to Canada, that pretty much kick-started her political career,” said Turgeon.

Other legislation Beaudoin worked on included getting assault riffles for state police and banning texting while driving.

When she was interviewed by the Journal Tribune in June 2012, prior to her last run for office, Beaudoin said while helping the elderly was one of her main concerns, but she also wanted to help all of her constituents.

If elected, she said, “I intend to do what I’ve been doing, working hard for the people, especially the people of Biddeford. … With everything going on (in the economy) the people are hurting and something has to be done.”

“She just loved politics and loved what she did and she just never quit,” said Turgeon about her mother. “She fought tooth and nail for everything.”

Though she was a fighter, Beaulieu said her mother “was very kind to people” and “she had a lot of friends.”

Politics wasn’t her only interest, said they daughters, noting that “she loved her great-granddaughters” and “she loved to cook for the family.”

“She loved to talk,” said Turgeon, “she loved to shop and she loved to eat.”

Those who served with Beaudoin have fond memories of her, remembering her as being tenacious well-respected.

“Her stamina was amazing,” said former state Sen. and Rep. Linda Valentino, a fellow Democrat from Saco. Beaudoin “would climb up three flights of stairs to drop off campaign literature. .. She drove herself (to Augusta). She would be there in snowstorms. She was tenacious.”

Valentino added that Beaudoin “was always impeccably dressed, head-to-toe, the make-up, the hair, the suits.”

While the interests’ of senior citizens was her primary issue, Valentino said Beaudoin was interested in all issues. “She was always asking what was going on. … She was never afraid to speak up in a debate. She was a real asset.”

Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, served with Beaudoin for two years in the House of Representatives. “Paulette was always a bundle of energy,” he said

He said she was well-respected by other legislators, even those that disagreed with her. “She always made debates into something civil.”

“I always admired her,” said Chenette, “her energy, her thirst for life. She had passion of the people.’

She was called the mémé (French for grandmother) of the House, said former state Rep. and Sen. Barry Hobbins, a Democrat of Saco.

“She was a good person,” he said. “She could be greatly caring but when she had an issue she could be feisty and tenacious.”

Beaudoin stood up for what she believed in even in adverse situations, said Hobbins, noting that at one point, despite being extremely sick, she traveled to Augusta to vote on a MaineCare bill.

“She was extremely well-liked and well-respected,” he said. “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

Paulette Beaudoin’s obituary may be viewed on page A6.

— Associate Editor Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]

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