The Passing of Bertrand Lavoie

To the Williams community,

I write to share the sad news that retired groundskeeper Bertrand “Frenchie” Lavoie, who worked in Buildings and Grounds (Facilities) for nearly 30 years, passed away on Saturday, June 22. He was 93.

A native of Quebec, Canada—the third of 16 children in his family—Bertrand was given the nickname “Frenchie” by his fellow Williams coworkers, who admired his deep knowledge of trees and nature, which he gained from growing up on a family farm. According to his daughter Michelle Waryjasz, technical coordinator in the financial aid office, one of her father’s proudest accomplishments was planting maple trees alongside the section of Route 2 that runs through campus.

During his tenure at the college, Bertrand wore many hats before he retired in 1988. He was instrumental for much of the landscaping on campus, and he helped teach and train young workers. In the winter months he and his crew maintained the college’s ski trails at Berlin Mountain Ski Area, and he assisted with search and recovery missions on Mount Greylock and Berlin Mountain. “He made wonderful friendships with the student ski teams and visited and reminisced with them during their alumni reunions,” Waryjasz says.

He led a full life beyond Williams, too. Among his many interests and activities, he was a deputy sheriff, a volunteer fireman, a member of the Civil Air Patrol, an avid fisherman, an inventor, a stock car racer, and a fan of virtually any and all motorized vehicles. But he cherished his family most of all.

He is predeceased by his wife Therese and eight siblings. He is survived by his daughter Michelle; granddaughter Emma; five sisters; two brothers; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

A wake for Bertrand Lavoie will be held on Monday, July 8, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Flynn and Dagnoli Funeral Home, West Chapel, in North Adams. A memorial service will immediately follow at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes memorial donations to the American Cancer Society or through the funeral home.

Our thoughts are with Bertrand’s family and friends.


Maud S. Mandel
Professor of History; Program in Jewish Studies