ATTLEBORO – On May 8, 1951 Elaine Elizabeth Bedard was born to her family, Chris, Bob & Mickey–her first community–like a drop in a pond. Then as a big sister she welcomed Jimmy, Ginny & John to her ever-widening family community of Bedard and Mooney cousins.
Through her 70 years she acquired more and more communities. Her longest childhood friend Karen added a loving and ever-present encompassing ripple to Elaine’s life. Even before becoming a Girl Scout, Elaine innately knew it was the silver and gold of new and enduring friendships that would drive her life and give it the deepest of riches. As a candy striper at Sturdy, her caring ways expanded. Elaine’s involvement in activities at North Attleboro High School, combined with teachers who inspired her, planted the seed of becoming an English teacher. Her Wheaton College experience added Brenda specifically along with copious amounts of laughter. UNH, where she obtained her Masters, added the ripple that would send her back to North High.
Now we come to her teaching career–talk about ripple effect. Her mentors to name just a few–Vic Lister, Judy Cobb and Mary Ellen Samma– whole-heartedly embraced Elaine with her enthusiasm, skills and love of the English language–written and spoken. Suzanne, a guidance counselor at North, developed a lasting friendship with Elaine that started with something like “you wanna come over for skillet lasagna”.
The laughs compounded for Elaine with acceptance of the dinner invite. Elaine’s most lasting contribution to her students came in teaching kindness, compassion, and critical thinking–specifically asking students to pause and think about how certain activities/decisions would affect their families. North was not all work & no play–not when Vinny, Rus, and Charlie, among others were in the building–Elaine’s eyes certainly sparkled as stories were relayed. Mary, Kathy, Jeannie, Sue, Bob, Patty, Art, the Frutcheys, the Dereks and so many others added more depth to Elaine’s North experience. Forgive us for not mentioning more colleagues; it is not for lack of importance in Elaine’s life–a wide community indeed. As Elaine was happily welcomed by her mentors, she too widened her community by mentoring wonderfully inspired teachers–I know there are so many, and you know who you are as you can feel and remember the warmth and encouragement extended to you by Elaine. Elaine’s mentoring of Marilou provided Elaine a kindred spirit and a beautiful and loyal friendship.
Of course as was Elaine’s way–each person’s family was absorbed into her community–whether fellow teachers or students–her interest and care has no end–still.
A book presented to Elaine upon her retirement contains personal thoughts by students of Elaine’s contribution not only to effective English Language skills but also life skills. All the letters Elaine received through and after her teaching years are a testament to her “career story”. Elaine obviously taught her students to write with sincerity–it shows in these letters. Elaine’s extraordinary ways of connecting will always be inspiring. Her student community is vast with ripples upon ripples–children of former students now reaping the benefits of life lessons which now flow to grandchildren.
When Elaine’s health dictated a move to Life Care, she made it her home and masterfully added more ripples to her community. Her interest and care in others pulled people in as she inquired and astutely listened to responses. Sharing laughs has always driven Elaine. Dr. Thursby mentioned how much Elaine enjoyed happiness and laughter and would want to be remembered that way.
Elaine’s crochet legacy is far reaching whether in lovingly bestowed afghans, scarves or baby blankets; her communities of family, friends, caring team members from every department at her home at Life Care, as well as her transport teams have all reaped the warming benefit of her speedy and easy flowing crochet ability–Elaine’s way of wrapping people in love. There’s not much Elaine loved more than giving gifts–Mad Libs a favorite to all her beloved nieces and nephews and Godchildren. Her love of giggles and laughter was a gift to us all. Books given shared her love of reading. Elaine loved sharing in joy! The ripples keep multiplying.
The medical staff she encountered through her journey embraced her and felt her warmth–even though not pleased to be at the medical offices, hospitals or dialysis. She was always grateful and easily expressed it.
As Salutatorian of the North High Class of 1969, Elaine spoke of tolerance.
She embodied that word as well as resilience–she never allowed her enjoyment of people to be taken away no matter what she was dealing with. Asked by her care team at Brigham to describe Elaine–the heartfelt and deserved words of kindest, most caring flowed out with true conviction. Elaine’s ability to get conversations and laughter rolling was a work of art. It was brought up that a room of strangers with Elaine in it would no longer be quiet as she would find a way to form this conversant community.
Elaine recently had mentioned that her favorite book was Of Mice and Men–quizzing her, she had said it was the theme of compassion that made it so.
We–Mickey, Jean, Katy, Carla, Bruno, Jack, Vivian, Jimmy, Ginny, Kerry, Kerry Jr., Kailey, Steven, John, Kelly, Jared, Josh and Kaitlyn–Elaine’s first community, are so very grateful to Elaine for her unwavering love and support and to each and every ripple community she added to her life–she did it with the joy and appreciation of a child picking dandelions. It is with that same joy and ease she welcomed the overflowing number of Godchildren and all those that lovingly called her “Auntie”.
Elaine lived a life immersed in love–given and received, boundless friendship, caring, compassion, interest, tolerance, resilience, acceptance and faith in many things–kindness being utmost. Elaine leaves a complete legacy–surrounded and embraced by all those ripples creating one endless community whom she would want to remember her with happiness.
As Elaine’s primary concern was care and love of her collective community, we, knowing the turnout would be more immense than we can even imagine, feel she would want a Celebration of Her Life held in the safest of ways. With her in our hearts now and always, we intend to honor her on her birthday Sunday May 8, 2022…time and place to be determined where we will commune with love, laughter and wonderful stories. In the meantime, please sing, read poems, and share happy stories creating more ripples.
Arrangements entrusted to Sperry & McHoul Funeral Home, 15 Grove Street, North Attleboro.
Elaine’s wish in lieu of flowers was for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude’s Place, Memphis, TN 38105
Published by Sun Chronicle on Dec. 15, 2021.