Thérèse Cécile Lachance

Thérèse Cécile (Côté) Lachance of Princeton, New Jersey died on Nov. 26, 2019 from complications after suffering a stroke in 2016. Thérèse was the loving wife of Rev. Dr. Paul A. Lachance, Ph.D. and the proud mom of Dr. Michael Paul Lachance, Ph.D. (Cooperstown, NY) Peter André Lachance (Yardley, PA), Marc-André LaChance (Essex Junction, VT), and Susan Ann (Lachance) Shih (Cranford, NJ).   

Thérèse was the first-born child of Lucien and Emilienne (Bolduc) Côté and was born in Derby Line, Vermont in 1932. She is survived by sisters Yolande Cody (Don), Claire Jaquish (Charles), goddaughter Joanne Comstock (Dana), and her brother Maurice Côté (Monica). She is also survived by godson Donald Cody II, goddaughter Jacqueline Bouffard, and goddaughter Louise Lavallee.  She leaves friends and family throughout the USA and Canada. She was predeceased by her beloved parents, grandparents, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins from both Vermont and Canada. She was the matriarch of a wonderful family that included nine cherished grandchildren: Marcel, Elijah, AnnaGrace, Beau Pierre, Joelle, Aline (Dias), Michaela, Zinnia, and Paul Thomas (Shih). She loved her childrens’ partners as her own: Carole (Lehoullier), wife of Michael; Patti Malinowski, longtime girlfriend of Peter; Amy (Myers), wife of Marc-André; and Philip Shih, husband of Susan.

On August 6, 1955, Thérèse was married to Paul, her high school sweetheart, in St. Mary “Star of the Sea” Church in Newport, (VT) by Rev. Damase Carrieres; thus began a Catholic and holy marriage that lasted over 61 years. She was a graduate of Sacred Heart schools in Newport, then from the St. Louis School of Nursing in Berlin, NH, where she earned top grades. She completed her residency at King’s County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. No one worked harder than Thérèse, and no one could doubt her integrity, high morals, and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As a Registered Nurse, she lovingly—and with great attention to detail—worked with patients at the Orleans County Hospital in Newport (VT), was head nurse at the Bishop DeGoesbriand Memorial Hospital in Burlington (VT), served at the 14th USAF Dispensary, Ethan Allen Air Force Base in Winooski (VT), worked at Sacred Heart Hospital in Hull, Quebec, and finished her nursing career at St. Peter’s Hospital in New Brunswick (NJ) working on Floor 3B. She loved being a nurse and treated each patient as she would want her own family members to be treated, often returning to work after her shift to finish details and to say prayers with patients. She was rewarded with notes and cards, calling her an “angel.” She held high standards for work and behavior while still being so gentle.  

Thérèse left nursing to raise a growing family as we moved from Quebec to Dayton, Ohio for Dad’s position at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In 1963, the family moved to LaPorte, Texas as Dad was selected as the first flight food and nutrition coordinator for the Manned Spacecraft Center at NASA in Houston. In addition to raising four children, she was engaged in local church activities and worked tirelessly to prepare and support Dad as he became an internationally recognized food scientist. Both Dr. Lachance and Thérèse were parish coordinators of the CYO at St. Mary’s Church. In 1967, Dr. Lachance joined the faculty of the Food Science Department of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Rutgers – The State University. The family settled in a South Brunswick home which Mom made into a loving, accepting refuge.

She was known for her culinary abilities, often creating the most incredible meals, pies, and cakes. She supported Dad as demands for his time became extraordinary and as he became the first Permanent Deacon at St. Paul’s Church (Princeton) where he served from 1977 to when he became too ill with Parkinsonism. She kept everything organized while always insisting that the family eat dinner together. As the children became older, she returned to nursing, often working night shifts while continuing to be the best mom, wife, and nurse this Earth has ever seen. She supported the family having a dog and often had to care for the pet, even though she was not fond of animals. Her singing voice was the sweetest voice in church on Sundays. When she did need to discipline, Thérèse just needed to give “the look” and say she was “disappointed.” As we grew older, we all had fun to see how far we could go before she would declare (but we knew it was only talk) that she would “take you over my checkered apron!”

Vermont remained her home away from home, and she cherished the two-week summer vacations seeing her parents, brother, and sisters from around northern Vermont and Paul’s family in St. Johnsbury. As her children began families of their own, she was the source of guidance on how to cook special meals and how to raise children. Notes from Mom saying “I’m proud of you” are still treasured by her children and their partners. She liked nothing more than when we could “sit and hold my hand…” She treasured every second with us.  

She often left notes written in her impeccable handwriting for Dad to find in his suitcase: “Don’t forget you’re very precious to me” and “I’m sure you’ll impress them!” and “I have always been very proud of you” and I love you very much” and “I’ll always be here to take care of you”  and “Don’t forget where you live!” and “Rest!” and “You haven’t left yet, and I already miss you!” and a prayer: “Lord, bring my precious other half home safely.” Dad always wrote back, including “Je t’aime plus que hier et moins que demain.” They called each other every day they were separated and adored each other. They never left home without a kiss. Theirs was a true love story. They held the Immaculate Heart of Mary close to their hearts and often prayed together. We all believed that Mom had a direct connection to God, but she disliked it when we called her “Saint Thérèse”…even though she is no doubt now among the saints and angels in heaven. She is with friends and family she has not seen for a long time and awaits all of us with her moving hugs, soft eyes, and sweet smile. Her loving husband, Rev. Dr. Paul A. Lachance, who died on Jan. 21, 2017, will be joyful to see his love and will probably greet her with a kiss and say, “You’re late.”

In lieu of flowers, take the time to pray with someone, hold a hand, feed the birds, donate food to the poor, and enjoy a piece of German Chocolate Cake, strawberry tarts, blueberry or pecan pie, or an order of beef stroganoff…though none of it will be as good as Mom’s. Care about your work with a high level of detail and integrity while honoring the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Treasure the children and never forget how lucky we are to be in a family. Rest, Mom…Merci beaucoup.

Friends may meet the family from 7-9 p.m. on Friday at Dec. 6th at the Mather-Hodge Funeral Home 40 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton. Deacon Jim Knipper will lead a prayer service. Funeral Mass will begin at 10:00 a.m. (9:30 a.m. viewing) in St. Paul's Church (Princeton) at 216 Nassau Street on Saturday, Dec. 7th. The celebrant will be Pastor Emeritus, Monsignor Walter E. Nolan with Deacon Frank Crivello. Thérèse Lachance will be entombed in a mausoleum with her husband at Holy Cross Burial Park in East Brunswick, N.J. after mass is completed.