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Paquette's legacy endures in hearts of loved ones

Date: 9/28/2010

Sept. 29, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

AGAWAM -- Paulene Paquette of Agawam never saw her years of hard work on the building committee come to fruition when the new senior center opened in January, 2009; she had passed away at the age of 83, just two months earlier.

Paquette's generosity and dedication to the Friends of the Agawam Senior Center as their vice president, continues even now as the group graciously accepted $20,000 from her estate earlier this month. The funds will be used to supplement the center's needs outside of its fiscal budget.

"I don't think she ever will be forgotten," Jane Schmidt, Paquette's best friend and assistant treasurer of Friends, said. "After all this time people still give me condolences."

Those at the senior center became Paquette's family, as she had no children or close relatives other than her sister who passed away several years prior, Schmidt noted.

Paquette worked as a teacher for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in France and Belgium for 30 years, before retiring in 1993 and moving to Agawam to live with her sister.

"She worked and lived in Europe for 32 years so she didn't know anyone in the States. Her sister got tired of her staying in the house so she took her over to the senior center. At the old center [on Meadowbrook Manor], you'd walk in and see the pool tables so they headed to the pool table," Schmidt recalled of how she met Paquette. "[From that day on] we used to play pool every Tuesday. We laughed a lot. People called us 'the zany nuts.' We enjoyed life."

Schmidt and Paquette joined many senior clubs together and participated in numerous fundraisers for the Friends, while lobby for a new senior center. Paquette was also a participant in the Massachusetts Senior Games.

"She was a very active senior and a role model for staying active in your senior years," Joan Linnehan, director of the Senior Center, said. "She must have been a wonderful teacher because she was always a great mentor and very interested in what you were doing ... she was a positive force."

J. Emile Cot , president of Friends, echoed Linnehan's sentiments. "She was a very, very hard worker [on behalf of Friends]. She was delightful, always smiling, always had a good world and loved everybody," he said as he tried to hold back tears. "I miss the heck out of her, we all do."

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