Jose Marie Chenard

August 10, 1922July 31, 2018

Celebration of the life of Grandmaman Jose Marie

Jose Marie Julienne Victorine Vanheer Chenard was born August 10, 1922 in the French and Flemish municipality of Ixelles, a community south of Brussels in Belgium. She came into this world with the assistance of les soeurs de la Charite Maternelle. Her mother Josephine Victoire Vanheer was 32 years old when she gave birth to her only child.

Grandmaman Jose is survived by her three children who have the initials “CC”: Claude and his wife Julie of Minneapolis, MN; Christian and his wife Gigi of Virginia Beach, VA, and Cynthia and her husband Tom of Sudbury, MA. Grandmaman Jose was a world traveler as evidenced by the birthplace of her children. Claude was born in Berlin, Germany. His wife Julie was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Christian was born in Bremerhaven, Germany. His wife Gigi was born in Cebu, Philippines. Cynthia who became her soulmate was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and her Polish American husband Tom in Trenton, NJ.

Grandmaman Jose is survived by her nine fantastic grandchildren who also hail from all parts of the world. Sonja was born in Panama City, Panama, Edward in Nashua, NH, Claudia in Minneapolis, MN, Christiane in Boston, MA, Jacqui in Berlin, Germany, Nikki in Newton, MA, Raki in Bohol, Philippines, Kathryn in Sudbury, MA, Eric in Sudbury, MA. Grandmaman Jose was overjoyed with the addition of her five great grandchildren Daliza, Jeralyn, Oren, Kilian and David.

Jose-Marie who was thought to be as beautiful as Ingrid Bergman, the top movie star of the period, married a dashing US Army captain named Jean Joseph. They chose Friday July 13, 1946, as the starting date of their 58 year union. Their wedding reception took place at the world famous Grand Place in the center of the old town in Brussels. Soon thereafter they started their world travels together by touring Europe to include the old Yugoslavia and Greece. Jose-Marie became a US citizen on September 11, 1951, before returning to Europe to live in Geneva, Switzerland for 20 years.

Grandmaman Jose was a linguist fluent in French, Flemish, German and English. An avid reader she was fond of reading in all these languages with a glass of German Riesling cooled with ice cubes by her side. Her recipe for longevity was to have “one” glass of wine a day and five fish meals a week topped off with two chocolate truffles. “Only 85 calories each” she would say when she passed them out with a wink of an eye. No meal was complete without a shot or two of Courvoisier brandy.

Photography was a passion of Grandmaman Jose. She was ahead of her times using only the best Leica and Rolleiflex cameras. Her photo albums were works of art with fantastic pictures accompanied by commentaries written in a flowing handwriting. When the digital age arrived she would always ask for a print to add to her collection. She would put on great slide shows and narrate them with firsthand details. In short it was an event. She could easily have sold tickets. Today her grandchildren are continuing the family tradition by celebrating her life with a wonderful video of cherished moments where her joie de vivre jumps out of the screen.

Grandmaman Jose prided herself in being a frugal person which led her to the world of sewing. Since her husband Jean couldn’t always afford the latest fashions Grandmaman Jose learned how to make the boldest creations on her own using patterns spreading them around her sewing room. It was a gala event every time she finished one of her pieces. With her bon vivant partner Jean by her side Grandmaman knew how to captivate a room with a dashing smile when she made her grand entrance. Of course her cameras came in handy to memorialize these moments.

Today we all aspire to capture the free spirit of Grandmaman Jose. She rose from the humble beginnings of a boarding school run by Ursuline nuns to being the much celebrated matriarch of a global family with talented and enterprising individuals. We will all remember the Grandmaman who always wore a whiff of 4711 cologne. Let us celebrate her 96th birthday with gusto.


  • Visitation Saturday, August 4, 2018
  • Funeral Mass Saturday, August 4, 2018

Jose Marie Chenard

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