BRUNSWICK — Marcelle Berthe Bisson Nadeau, 94, Born on July 4, 1923 to Canadian immigrants, Marcelle was the second of four children and the only daughter of Adelard Onizeme and Alma Albertine Dionne Bisson.

As her heartbeat stopped and her eyes slowly closed, God took another angel at 2:28am on November 28, 2017. She died in the home where she has lived for over 65 years,

Marcelle was brought up in a French Canadian community where French was her first language and life revolved around the immigrant traditions of first generation Franco American citizens. She spent her entire life in Brunswick, with the exception of five years, living on A Street in Topsham. She was born in an apartment building that housed Fortin’s Variety Store at Mill and Maine Streets. In 1926 her parents bought the Quarry Farm at 5 Casco Road from Angeline Helie, widow of Maxime Fridolin Helie, her father’s uncle. The Bisson’s remained on the farm until 1942. 72 Harpswell Road was Marcelle’s home from 1952 until her death.

Unlike most French Canadian descendants who attended Saint John’s Parochial School, local farmers sent their children to any of the 27 one room school houses in this area at that time. Marcelle learned English while attending Bunganuc School. She later transferred to Growstown School, where she soloed in two school programs held at the Growstown Church, singing “America” and “Trees.” She was proud of her spelling skills, and was a runner-up in a regional Spelling Bee held at the old Town Hall on Maine Street. She started 7th grade at Saint John’s School, but quit school mid-year to help at home. Her father had been kicked by a horse and was bed-ridden with a broken leg. Her mother was also bed-ridden after giving birth to Louis, Marcelle’s baby brother. She remained self conscious of her lack of formal education. However, she excelled in common sense, determination and persistence.

She met Romeo Nadeau, an Augusta native, on October 13, 1945, at a pre-wedding dance for one of his cousins and Marcelle’s co-worker. Not admitting that this was love at first sight, Romeo and Marcelle were engaged on Easter Sunday, April 22, 1946, and married on her 23rd birthday, July 4, 1946. In their 38 years together, they learned that marriage is coping with illness, working long hours and overcoming struggles…it takes trust, respect, commitment, understanding and keeping the faith to make it last. Marcelle set the tone for their marriage when she sang “Always” to Romeo at their wedding reception. “Always” has been her theme song for over 71 years!

Marcelle’s ongoing joke was that she was born on July 4th, married on July 4th and she wanted to die on July 4th. She has pulled a fast one: She passed this year’s July 4th, however, July 4th is also 7/4. 7+4=11 and 7×4=28. Therefore, her death on November 28 is significant!

Her faith was challenged many times, from the sudden death of her father when she was 15 to the untimely death of her husband just as they were planning to retire, and the tragic murder of her only son in 1996. Never one to dwell in self-pity or question life’s big challenges, she put her faith in God, and proved that she would not be a stranger to hard work.

Following her father’s death, she continued with farm chores, while working a 40 hour week at the Verney Cotton Mill, to help support her younger brothers who were 9 and 3. Caring for and supporting Leo and Louis were paramount.

Marcelle’s dream of starting a day care was realized when she and Romeo bought their home on Harpswell Road in August 1952. This house wasn’t big and needed work, but it had an ample yard that was a safe distance from a busy roadway. Proceeds from her day care children and her tenacity helped her pay off a 30 year mortgage in 6 years. Mr. Whitman, the bank president was so impressed he called her into his office to personally congratulate her!

Her work history besides the Verney Mill included the Bath Iron Works Harding Plant as a time keeper, an inspector at a mill, and a meat wrapper at the A&P. But her avocation and greatest accomplishment was her day care. It started in October 1952, with a single ad in the then weekly BRUNSWICK RECORD. It had no formal name…it was just Mom’s day care. Raising her then 17 month old daughter was necessary and essential, and Marcelle realized the importance of interaction with other children. The day care started with five children. It was closed in 1984, following Romeo’s death, because it was so heartbreaking to hear the children constantly asking for “Dad.” Ten year ago, she read a help wanted ad in the TIMES RECORD, from a couple who had recently adopted an adorable boy and were searching for a private day care. Her daughter, Pauline, told her she was crazy to resume babysitting at age 84, after a 24 year hiatus. Marcelle persisted, saying she needed “young blood” in the house. Inquiries were made and the day care reopened. Marcelle has cared for well over a hundred children who currently range in age from 3 to 69. The essence of her day care: parents need to work and these children deserved to be in a home setting, where they were loved, nurtured, and taught the basics by a woman who remained self-conscious of her 7th grade education. We could feel her pride and see her enjoyment each time they got in touch, visited or called. One of her “kids” said it best: “My only memories will be of the joy she felt to be around her kids. All of us.”

She reached a special goal this past July 4th. She is the first to outlive her paternal Grandfather, Joseph David Bisson. She took pride in saying she was the oldest living Bisson!

Marcelle was a life-long communicant of All Saints Parish, St. John’s Church. She is a former member of The Children of Mary and the Ladies of Saint Anne, and a current member, albeit inactive for many years, of the Daughters of Isabella, Father Remy Circle #508.

In addition to her parents, she is pre-deceased by her beloved husband, Romeo; her only son, Ronald; her three brothers, Gerard, Leo and Louis Bisson and her Godchildren, Anne Bisson Bouchard, and Connie Patenaude Humphrey. Marcelle leaves behind her daughter, Pauline, Brunswick, Maine; her grandson, Jake and his fiancée, Kayla, West Bath, Maine; her sister-in-law, Jacqueline Bisson, Brunswick, Maine; her Godchildren, Albert Potvin, California; Normand Bisson, Lewiston, Maine; Virginia Ewert, Saint Catherines, Ontario; Cathy Black, Bowdoin, Maine and Jennifer Sawczyn, Minnapolis, Minesota; a special cousin, Maurice Pelletier, Brunswick, Maine; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Timeless and traditional she lived a full and rich life. Please remember Marcelle as a gracious and caring woman who opened her heart to all and had an easy, unforgettable laugh. She was a prolific letter writer whose signature ending was “Love and a Big Bear Hug.”

Visiting hours will be held on Sunday, December 3, 2017 from 1:00 – 5:00pm and a Time of Remembrance from 7:00 – 9:00pm (a time for stories and remanence about the old times with the family) at the Demers-Desmond Funeral Home, 34 Cushing Street, Brunswick. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, December 4, 2017 at 11:00am at the All Saints Parish, St. John the Baptist Church, Brunswick.

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