Casey Bouchard was a strong, compassionate and fiery young woman, determined to make a difference in the world.

At 5 years old, Bouchard started volunteering at the Preble Street soup kitchen, handing out juice and milk. When she was 9, she hiked Tuckerman Ravine to the summit of Mount Washington. In 2013, she fulfilled her dream of traveling to Africa to help orphans.

Bouchard, who had plans to return to Zimbabwe this summer to work at an orphanage there, died on March 5 from a drug overdose in Florida. She was 27.

Casey Bouchard Photo courtesy of Peter Bouchard

Bouchard was known for her boundless energy and love of music, dancing and books.

She grew up in South Portland and attended Greater Portland Christian School. She took classes for 15 years at City Dance in Falmouth, learning ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop.

Music was an important part of her life. She grew up listening to gospel, jazz, blues and rock – BB King, the Rolling Stones, Journey, Michael Jackson, Muddy Waters, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett. Her favorite song was “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.


“Casey was well rounded in music and could sing the words to many songs,” her father said. “Being able to dance to her favorite music was very enjoyable for her.”

Bouchard spent summers with family at Whitney Pond in Oxford. She and her sister, Paige, would make bonfires, s’mores, listen to music and dance.

She had a voracious appetite for learning and reading. Her father remembered teaching her how to read using his finger to point to each word. He said she had amassed a collection of more than 500 books.

“When I asked what she wanted for her birthday, she gave me a list of books,” he said. “I said, ‘How about I get you a Kindle?’ Casey said no. She liked the way books feel and smell. She got a tattoo on her ribs of a stack of books that said, ‘I’ve lived a thousand lives.’”

Bouchard transferred to Falmouth High School for her junior year. After her graduation in 2013, she and her family traveled to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where her father purchased land to build an orphanage, a school, and community and learning centers.

Photo courtesy of Peter Bouchard

According to her obituary, about 100 children live at the orphanage and attend the school. There’s a farm with animals and crops, which help feed more than 175 children three meals a day.


Peter Bouchard said they spent three weeks in Zimbabwe on that trip. He said the experience had a profound impact on Casey’s life.

“She got so much out of it,” her father said. “She was amazed that these poor, disadvantaged children were so happy. The kids kept touching Casey’s red hair and skin. A little boy who was left in the bush for roughly six months was stuck to Casey. It was magical.”

Bouchard went to Curry College in Massachusetts to study psychology. She began experimenting with opioids during her sophomore year. Soon after, she entered her first 30-day detox program at Mountainside Treatment Center in Connecticut. She returned to college and graduated in 2017.

Rhiannon Newfell, of Sudbury, Massachusetts, Bouchard’s college roommate, said she touched a lot of lives.

“She was one of those people who could light up a room with her smile,” Newfell said. “She was always reading a book and was so inviting to people. She could start a conversation with anybody.”

Newfell said it was tough to watch her friend struggle with addiction. She said they last saw each other in November and talked on the phone the day before Bouchard died.


“I was so proud of her,” Newfell said. “She was doing so well. It’s just so sad.”

Kristen Mononoke, a childhood friend, shared her grief in a tribute on Facebook.

“This is the hardest goodbye that I have ever had to say,” Mononoke wrote. “You were the sweetest, most soft spoken, little ray of light that I knew … since we were four years old. I will cherish the memories that we made together, dancing on the beach, sleeping in the back of my Subaru with our toes out catching the summer breeze, and planning our futures together. I love you Casey. I can not fathom this. It is so unjust, but I will see you there my friend.”

Casey Bouchard with an elephant behind her, in Zimbabwe. Photo courtesy of Peter Bouchard

For a brief time after college, Bouchard worked with kids with disabilities at Strive in South Portland.

As her drug use escalated, she entered Pine Tree Recovery Center in Portland. She lived at The Plymouth House and Grace House and got active in Portland’s 12-step recovery community.

In early 2020, Bouchard moved to Delray Beach, Florida, and entered another detox facility, Immersion Recovery Center. Her father, who lives in Delray Beach, talked openly about his daughter’s relapses and the impact they had on him and the family.


“I know from all the years of dealing with Casey’s addiction, this disease, that she needed to want to stay clean and sober,” he said. “I couldn’t want it enough for her. God knows I wanted it with every molecule in my body.”

A glimmer of  hope came in September of 2021, when Bouchard started getting monthly injections of Vivitrol, a drug that blocks the euphoric effects of and urge to use opioids. Bouchard had four months of injections. She saw a therapist and attended Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“Her cravings stopped,” her father said.

Bouchard continued her education and got licensed as a registered behavior technician. Most recently, she worked with children with autism at Chrysalis ABA Therapy in Delray Beach. She was working toward getting another license to become a case manager, her father said.

“She loved helping children make gains in their lives,” he said.

Bouchard’s insurance changed in January and no longer covered Vivitrol shots, which cost $1,000 a month. She couldn’t find a provider on her new plan who offered a monthly Vivitrol injection and did not take the medication in January and February, even though her father offered to cover the costs. She relapsed. Her father dropped her off at her apartment on March 5. He said she died around 10 p.m. after taking pills laced with fentanyl.

“As I remind the family, God didn’t call me to be Casey’s father just for the good times,” he said. “There’s a fine line, as I came to learn through attending many Al-Anon meetings – I had to be careful not to enable her. Unfortunately, my gravest fear came to fruition. I would tell Casey, ‘Sweetheart, I can’t put you in another facility. If you think I’m going to catch you every time you relapse, I’m giving you a false hope. Because one of these times, my love, you are going to get fentanyl and you’re going to die. I can’t save you from that.”

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