The last time we were with my cousin Conrad Soucie was in either 2006 or 2007, during one of our visits to Connecticut. He is actually my first cousin once removed, since he is my late father’s cousin. Dad’s mother and Conrad’s father were siblings. Both the Violette family and the Soucie family hail from the Upper St John River Valley in northern Maine/northwestern New Brunswick, and members of both families eventually migrated down to Connecticut. Conrad stayed there for many years, but Dad and Mom moved back to Warner NH in 1943 where they lived the rest of their lives. As with so many from New England, Conrad eventually moved to Florida, where he lives now.
As I was growing up we made trips to Connecticut to visit with family perhaps once or twice a year. My Violette grandparents lived in CT as did Dad’s three siblings. Often during our visits there would be a family cookout, usually at my Aunt Elmire’s, and various Soucies and LaPierres would attend. One of the Soucie girls married a LaPierre, so that was the connection with that family. I wish I could recite the genealogy, but it is sort of vague to me as you can probably tell. But it was at those gatherings over the years that contact with Conrad was continued. Later on, when I visited CT as an adult we would always spend time with my aunts Elmire and Ludovine (and earlier with Uncle Al) and Conrad was usually stopped by Elmire’s while we were there. Dad and Conrad stayed in close touch over the years, though Conrad was about twelve years younger than Dad.
Conrad’s wife Rita died about seven years ago in Florida. In the years before they were close with another two couples and often played golf together. After
Rita died Conrad thought he would have to drop out of the golf group, but one of the other husbands became quite debilitated with dementia so Conrad paired up with the wife, Jean. And sometime after Jean’s husband passed they found themselves spending more time together and have been a couple for a few years now. Jean is traveling with Conrad on this trip and they are visiting Jean’s sister in Peoria on this leg.
I saw Conrad’s post a week or so ago on Facebook that he would be traveling and asked that messages be held off until his return. I immediately emailed to him suggesting that we get together during his stay in Peoria and we made plans to do so. Today was the day.
Elaine and I drove over to Peoria to the home of Milt and Shirley Carpenter; Shirley is Jean’s sister. We had a joyous reunion with Conrad, and we met Jean, Shirley, and Milt (and Dolly, their lovable dachshund).
After a visit at the house we all headed to Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant, one of our favorite places to eat, located about an mile an a half away. Conrad and Jean had never been there, of course, but Milt and Shirley had been there once some time ago. We had an excellent lunch and continued our visit.
We were invited back to the Carpenter’s to continue the visit over coffee, but Elaine and I had to beg off since we still had several things we had to do this afternoon.
I have always enjoyed visiting with Conrad. He is a lively, outgoing person who is always a joy to be with. This was the first time where the visit was between Conrad and me, however; in the past there have been many other family members involved. I wished we could spend more time with Conrad and Jean (and Shirley and Milt), but we have to take what we can get at this age and with the distance.
Prior to meeting with Conrad I had dug out some genealogy records Dad had in his files and tried to piece together the family history and connections, but there seemed to be too many gaps in those records. I did, however, send those records off to cousin Rod Violette, Genealogist for the Violette Family Association, and an avid researcher. Rod will help me put together the family history and I will be able to connect Rod and Conrad to help fill in the many gaps. Another cousin, Dan Lapierre, will also be able to help. I am in touch with both Conrad and Dan via Facebook and email on a regular basis. Dan is another one of Dad’s cousins; I believe that his mother was also a Soucie.
As an aside, the name is spelled variously Soucie or Soucy and the family came over from France to French North America in the mid 1600s and settled in Quebec (remember, there was no “Canada” until 1867). The branch I am descended from eventually came to the Frenchville ME and St Leonard NB area. In a quirk of genealogy, my great-great-great-great grandfather Germain Soucy married Marie-Rose Cormier who later after Germain died married my great-great-great-great grandfather François Violet! I am not descended from Marie-Rose but because of that genealogical relationship my grandparents, Cyr Violette and Adeline Soucie, had to have a dispensation in order to get married.
Another interesting sidenote, both Rod Violette and Conrad Soucie were raised in St Leonard NB at about the same time. Conrad is about five years older than Rod. Rod joined the Canadian Air Force and later became a pilot for United Airlines. Conrad joined the American Air Force.