Cecile M. Roy
August 7, 1921 – January 20, 2021
Cecile Roy died at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Lewiston on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, a week after suffering a stroke. She was 99. She and her late husband ran a guest home in Lewiston for more than 30 years. She also worked as a nurse’s aide taking care of elderly people. She was born Cecile Marie Lagasse in Connor Township which is located in Northern Maine just north of Caribou on August 7, 1921, the third of 10 children in a French-speaking family. When Cecile was about 2, the family moved to the outskirts of St. Quentin, New Brunswick. She spent most of her childhood in an area known as Five Fingers, including the hamlets of Petit Ouest and Arseneau. The family was poor. They lived thru the Great Depression in the 1930s. When she was 16, Cecile went to Van Buren, Maine to work. While there she cleaned a doctor’s home. She also tasted her first ice cream – vanilla. Soon thereafter she went to far-off Lewiston – more than 300 miles from home – where jobs were more plentiful. She found work taking care of an elderly, wheel-chair-bound, French-speaking woman. Cecile sent money home to help her family. She knew almost no English when she got to Lewiston so she began taking night classes to learn how to speak, read and write in English. Cecile lived with the elderly woman for several years, tending to all of her needs. Later on, a friend helped her purchase a two-story house in Lewiston. Her sisters eventually came to stay with her, followed eventually by their mother. Cecile worked as a waitress at the Hotel Dewitt in downtown Lewiston. When her sisters moved out, Cecile rented out their rooms. One of her renters during the late 1940s was a World War II U.S. Army veteran who sold life insurance for Prudential, named Emilien Roy. They courted and eventually married on June 10, 1950 at the chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul in Lewiston. They had three children: a daughter, Therese, and fraternal twins Roland and Gisele. Not long after the wedding the couple bought a three-story house , which they operated as Roy’s Guest Home. It catered mostly to travelling salesmen, summer tourists, and parents of students at nearby Bates College. Cecile washed and cleaned and painted and maintained the inside of their 16-room house while her husband sold life insurance and maintained the outside of the house. At home the family spoke French, which was their children’s first language. They sent the children to St. Peter’s parish elementary school and then to St. Dominic Regional High School in Lewiston. All three went on to complete college degrees. In those years Cecile walked a mile each weekday morning to attend the 7 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Lewiston. Her husband Emilien retired from Prudential in 1969, and took over many of the guest home duties. During the 1970s, Cecile worked at local clothing stores and department stores. She excelled in selling to new and repeat customers who relied on her advice on clothes. Keenly aware of her limited education, Mrs. Roy attended night school at Lewiston High School to obtain a high school diploma, which she received in June 1975. She went on to become a certified nurse’s aide, earning a certificate in June 1985. She also earned a certificate that allowed her to give patients oral medication later that year. She worked at Auburn Home for the Aged during the mid-1980s. Later, she worked for individual elderly patients, taking care of them at their home. Her children also remember her for her hard work and her helpfulness. Emilien and Cecile sold the guest home in 1983 and moved to a much smaller house in Lewiston. Cecile’s Roman Catholic faith meant everything to her. She went to Mass frequently and prayed the rosary every day. Her children say she seemed to know that some things would happen before they happened. One example occurred as follows: “One early summer evening she had a premonition that her mother was sick or hurt and that she would arrive in Lewiston on the Greyhound Bus traveling south from Northern Maine,” her son recalls that "we drove over to the bus station, and lo and behold her mother was the first to step off the bus -- and her mother was just as totally surprised as no phone call or letter was sent to mom alerting her to be there to pick up her mom.” Cecile took an active interest in the lives of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, even those who lived far away. A prayer card and a personal note often provided a pick-me-up for those who needed it. Mrs. Roy’s husband Emilien died in September 2001. She lived all by herself until well into her late 80s. About 10 years ago her son came to live with her and take care of her. In Lewiston, Cecile and Roland were regulars at the dining hall of Bates College. They also took trips together throughout Maine and eastern Canada. Their favorite spot was Dummer’s Beach Campground on Lake Webb in Weld, Maine, overlooking Tumbledown Mountain. It was there, on a beautiful summer day this past August, that she celebrated her 99th birthday with her son, her granddaughter and spouse, and their eight children and her niece. In July 2020, at age 98, she went flying in her son's airplane on two beautiful sunny days with clear visibility. On one day, they flew from Oxford to Lewiston, flying over their home and over Bates College. The next time they flew over Pismo Beach where they often went to enjoy being by the water and they loved feeding the ducks wild bird food. She enjoyed both flights which allowed her to see Maine's Scenic Coastline and watch the sun set behind the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Cecile was the daughter of the late Thadde Lagasse and Angele (Beaulieu) Lagasse. A brother and a sister died in childhood: Jeanne and Gerard. A brother and two sisters died in adulthood before Cecile: Yvonne, Joseph, and Ida. She leaves behind four sisters: Marie-Ange Sumpter, of Connecticut; Lorette Hanks, of Arizona; Lina Malo, of Virginia; and Annette LaBrie, of New York. Mrs. Roy leaves three children: Therese Bowdren (and her husband Rick), of Ohio; Roland Roy, of Lewiston, Maine; and Gisele Cyr (and her husband Mark), of Florida. She also leaves five grandchildren: Kelly McDonald, of Massachusetts; Shannon Heald, of Illinois; Jarrett Bowdren, of Illinois; Alan Cyr, of Florida; and Danielle Robins, of Florida. She also leaves 12 great-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews. Visiting hours will be held at Fortin\Lewiston on Tuesday January 26, 2021 from 4-7pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday January 27, 2021 at 11am at the Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul (lower chapel) 122 Ash St. Lewiston followed by committal prayers at St. Peter's Cemetery also in Lewiston. The Mass will be livestreamed on the funeral home's Facebook page (Fortin Funeral Home) Arrangements are under the care of The Fortin Group Funeral Home, Cremation and Monument Services 70 Horton St. Lewiston, 784-4584.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
A Mass of Christian Burial
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Cecile M. Roy
February 9, 2021
My heartfelt condolences over the loss of your dear mom. She was certainly a Faithful and Dedicated angel of our Catholic Faith.
When my dad passed passed away suddenly at 41 years old, your mom was an Angel messenger. She encouraged my mom to go to mass everyday. Mom did that for the remainder of her life until her passing in 2008 (age 89).
Your mom was an Inspiration to Many! What a beautiful obituary of the account of her life. I'm honored to have known her.
May the Grace of God be upon All of You as you grieve her loss.
Betty A. Perreault
Youngest daughter of Lily (Hebert) Perreault