REVERE, Mass., and ORONO – Joseph “Joe” R. LaBeau Jr., formerly of Orono and late of Revere, Mass., died peacefully at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers, Mass., on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, due to the complications of old age. Joe was 95 years old. Born Sept. 29, 1918, in Lisbon, to Joseph R. LaBeau, Sr. and Rachel (Knox) LaBeau, Joe was a 1937 graduate of Brunswick High School and the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.
In November of 1940, Joe and his beloved wife of 69 years Lois (Small) LaBeau were wed and it was a match made in Heaven, as they were inseparable until Lois’ death in October of 2010. Joe was a World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of Captain in the Quartermaster Corps prior to his mustering out at war’s end. In 1948, Joe and Lois purchased the former Beatie Funeral Home in Orono and along with their infant daughter, the late Judith “Judy” Ann LaBeau, moved to Orono as proprietors of the Joseph R. LaBeau Funeral Home. They resided in Orono for 35 years until their retirement in the fall of 1983. To be nearer to their children, Judy and Joseph “Jody” R. LaBeau III, they moved to Marblehead, Mass., later moving to Warwick, R.I., and eventually settling in Revere, Mass., to care for Judy with love and devotion during her long illness. Judy died in July of 2004.
While residing in Orono, Joe belonged to many organizations, some of which included Kiwanis where he was a Past President, Anah Temple Shrine, Freemasons, American Legion post 84 and The Church of Universal Fellowship where he served as a Deacon and was renowned for his Men’s Club suppers, especially his delicious fish “chowdah.” I will never forget him filling-in for the rotund and often loquacious Ralph Perkins as auctioneer at the annual Kiwanis Auction, held during those years at Pat Farnsworth’s barn off of Maine Street. Joe struck-up an enduring friendship with Ralph, accompanying him to private auctions as his substitute and becoming very knowledgeable in the area of antiques and furniture. Local folks learned of this expertise and with my mother’s able assistance, they created an estate liquidation business, holding auctions periodically in the barn at the former Sutton/Folger residence on Bennoch Road and at the American Legion Post on Park Street. As a result of these associations, dad had many friends in the Orono, Old Town, and Bangor area. He was an ardent card player and loved Bridge, participating in a regular contract bridge night held in the homes of the Bridge Club members on a rotating basis. He also enjoyed Poker, Cribbage and Pitch. As a child, I remember accompanying him to the Pat Dore residence across from the Post Office where he would play pitch and Cribbage for hours. Harold Cota and Jim DeGrasse often showed-up and they would play doubles at a penny-a-point. Friday night was poker night with his cronies, now all gone I assume. Joe loved to play golf, had an 18-handicap, never broke 80, and was a long time member of the PVCC, playing in their Twilight League for many years. In the times prior to pagers and cell phones, there were countless occasions where dad’s golf match was interrupted by someone from the club house staff riding on a golf cart coming to pick-him-up and shuttle him to the club house because of a death in the community.
Joe was a kind and compassionate man who was honest and ethical to a fault. If a family couldn’t afford a funeral, he would either arrange a not very rigid payment schedule or cover the expenses out of his own pocket, never presuming to chase for his money. He loved to fish for Salmon and Togue and participated in many fishing trips with “the boys” to Tunk Lake, Schoodic Lake, West Musquash and many others. Names of participants who come to mind are Jack Smith, Bill Gavett, Jim DeGrasse, Norman and Harold Cota, Mr. King, and others whom I am unable to name because of the passage of time.
Joe was Secretary of the Maine Funeral Director’s Associations for countless years, stood as a member of the State Board of Funeral Services and was proud to be named as Chairman of the Conference Board, a National Funeral Industry licensing and regulating board.
Joe is survived by his son, Joseph “Jody” R. LaBeau III and his wife, Christina Lynne LaBeau, of Saugus, Mass.; and a number of nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be provided by Brackett Funeral Home, 29 Federal St., Brunswick. Visiting hours will be Thursday, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A simple funeral service will be 10 a.m. Friday, from the funeral home, with the Rev. Ronald McLaughlin of the United Baptist Church of Topsham officiating. Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery in Brunswick in the late spring. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation in Joe’s name to: Kaplan Family Hospice House, 78 Liberty St., Danvers, MA 01923.