Paul Chaloux

       Paul Chaloux:   
 a life story


Updated: October 29,2011 by Paul Chaloux, Jr


            Paul Normand Chaloux was born on February 25, 1932 in Lewiston, Maine, at home on Orange Street as was the custom of the day.  His father, Andre W. Chaloux was 29 at the time and his mother, Leona was 26.   He was the middle child in a family of five, each born at approximately two year intervals.   Marcel, the eldest, was born on September 3, 1928, followed by Claire who was born on January 14, 1930.   After Paul, Andre L. was born  January 20, 1934 and Irene was born  January 21, 1936. 

            Family was always very important to the Chalouxs.  Paul’s father Andre was the youngest of 23 children.  Because Andre’s father passed away when he was only one,   much of his raising was done by his siblings.  In fact, when he had traveled to Lewiston for the first time, he stayed with his brother Silva  and helped take care of his children after his first wife died.  Andre kept in contact with all his relatives and very rarely missed a family event. There was a lot of extended family in the Lewiston area and they visited them often.  Andre also frequently took the family to visit his brothers, sisters and in-laws all around New England and to his hometown in East Hereford Quebec.  When he was there, he often bought maple syrup and butter from them to help them out because many of his siblings were not doing well financially.  Because of this, Paul grew up with a strong sense of family and the desire to be supportive.

            Paul’s father was intelligent but uneducated, having less than one year of formal schooling.  He had many jobs in his early life, working as a laborer, a carpenter and training as a barber.  In about 1934, Paul’s father opened a combination barbershop and corner store on Sabattus Street in Lewiston, while the family still lived on Orange Street opposite St. Mary’s hospital.   The family was a typical French-Canadian family, speaking French at home and practicing the Roman Catholic faith.  Andre was very active in the Knights of Columbus and Leona was from a very religious family.  Several of Paul’s cousins entered the religious life. The family was generally financially stable, although never very well off.  Andre was very handy and fixed up tricycles and pedal cars for the children. On a few occasions, they would make a parade of them. Through age 6, Paul’s life was happy and very much like those around him.    

            Shortly after Irene’s birth in 1936, Paul’s mother contracted Tuberculosis which fundamentally changed everything in their lives.  By 1938, as Leona’s illness intensified to the point where she needed full time care he could not provide,  Andre placed her in the Hebron Sanitorium, a facility  specializing in tubercular care.  To create a more steady income, Andre sold his business and took a job at one of the local shoe factories.  Because he was unable to work and care for his young children, Andre placed his sons in the Healy Asylum, a nun-run, state-funded orphanage and his daughters in the similarly run Marcotte Home for young girls.   Paul lived the next six years in this arrangement, staying in the Asylum during the week with his brother Andy and spending some weekends at home with the rest of the family.  Because he was older, his brother Marcel was placed with the older children at the Asylum for two and a half years before going back to live with his father to help out around the house.

            The Asylum was an all inclusive home.  School was on the grounds, taught by the Grey Nuns and the children lived in barrack style dormitories.  The children were well fed and besides school attendance and related activities such as choir and band, they played sports like baseball and hockey for amusement.  There were annual picnics and holiday celebrations since some of the children had no homes to go to.  In those days there were no frills.  Paul’s brother (Andre L) remembered the nuns feeding them warm toast for lunch which was a rare treat.  Paul would see his mother on rare occasions at the sanatorium until she was released to come home.

             His time at the orphanage certainly had an effect on Paul, many of them positive.  The Asylum routine included going to daily mass.  Paul was an altar server and for a while, many of his relatives thought he might become a priest. He also learned a love of music, learning to play the guitar at the age of 12 or 13.  In 1940, Paul’s father moved the family to a house on Webber Avenue and then again to 231 Ash Street  before finally moving to their  final destination, a home at 52 Sabattus Street.  During most of the war period, his father was working multiple shifts in a shipyard 30 miles away in Portland.

            In 1944, Paul’s time at the Healy Asylum came to an end.  Because his mother was not improving at the Hebron Sanitarium, Andre brought her home and at the same time brought home the older children to help care for her.   Paul helped out the family finances by delivering the Lewiston Daily Sun each morning before school.  Finally, on June 14, 1945, the last day of  seventh grade, his mother died at home.  Unfortunately, his father was away at the shipyard working at the time.   By special arrangement, his mother was laid out in the parlor of their Sabattus Street home, where they prayed over her for three days prior to her burial in Saint Peter’s cemetery.   They had a high funeral mass for her at St. Peter and Paul Church.   After the funeral, Andre took the entire family on a week long vacation to New York City to start the recovery process.

            The next year was a year of transition for the family.  With the war over, Andre returned home from the Shipyard without a job.  He supported the family through his work as a carpenter and then borrowed money from the bank and with the help of his sons, added eight apartments and a barber shop and a beauty salon, which was later operated by Paul’s sister Irene, to his Sabattus Street home.   This project was important for Paul, because he learned building skills from his father that he used for the rest of his life.  On October 25, 1947, Andre married Marguerite Rancourt at St. Peters Church, which was only a block from the Sabattus Street house.   Marguerite, a very loving person, was a tremendous asset to the family, helping to raise the children while also working at a textile mill to support the family during the building project. 

            About this time, Paul entered St. Dominic High School, the Catholic school in Lewiston.  Paul was a good student, was well liked and was not one to get in trouble.  He was a good 148 pound offensive and defensive guard on the football team.  He was not big enough for the position, but very good for his size. He remembered playing against much larger players where he felt his only hope to slow them down would be to trip them.  He also played outfield for the baseball team, although by his own admission, it wasn’t his best sport.  Both Paul and Andy delivered newspapers until Paul moved on to bigger things.  In addition to working at the A & P, Paul became an entrepreneur when he decided to start buying and selling old cars, using the Sabattus Street apartment property as a used car lot.  By the time he graduated from high school, Paul owned a 1949 Hudson as a result of his wheeling and dealing.

            When he entered high school, Paul decided to add the clarinet and Saxophone to the guitar he already played.  He continued to play in the high school band and used his talents with the guitar, clarinet and saxophone to earn a few dollars by playing for dances, weddings and wedding showers which were very popular at the time.  He was the leader of a band called “The Moonlight Serenaders.”  He also played with other musicians when they needed a sax or clarinet player.  Most of his gigs included Paul on Clarinet, Sax and guitar, Andy on trumpet, a friend on accordion and another friend on drums.  They all enjoyed Dixieland music and would often have jam sessions playing Louis Armstrong music.  . 

            Although Andre always encouraged his children to pursue the best education possible, at the time of Paul’s graduation in 1950, college was not affordable.    After high school, Paul went to work as a machine operator at a paper mill for about a year.  Not finding that to his liking, he took a job working at one of the local shoe factories.   As with all the members of his family, Paul continued to live in his parents’ home when he lived in Lewiston.  In 1952, Paul was drafted into the army, doing his basic training in Fort Jackson, SC.  Although most of his basic training unit went to battle in Korea, Paul served his first year playing in the Army band and his second year as a cadre for training new recruits.  The entire two year tour was spent at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  After returning from the army, Paul took advantage of the GI bill, which paid him $110 per month and went to the University of Maine in Orono to study mechanical engineering.  .

            In 1955, Paul’s sophomore year at college, he met Dolores Murdock at a Saturday night dance at the Lewiston City Hall, a venue where they regularly had big name dance bands. Their first date was on New Year’s eve.  Over the next three years, he came home often on the weekends to see her, arranging to see her by mail.  He also came home during the summers, working as a shoe cutter at Cole’s shoe factory in Norway Maine, side by side with his uncle, Lionel Rancourt, who got him the job. 

            In 1957, Paul’s father learned that he had bone cancer.  This became a real concern for the family.  One day, while Paul was doing prescribed exercises on his father’s leg, his leg broke at the femur (obviously weakened by the cancer).  The cancer had advanced to a point where a leg amputation was necessary.  This was a tragic turn of events, and a severe shock for Paul.   Andre, who had an indomitable spirit born from a life of hardships, was determined to carry on.   Shortly after losing his leg, Paul’s father walked his youngest daughter, Irene, down the aisle at her wedding.  Irene remembers that this sight caused everyone in the church to cry, making it seem more like a funeral than a wedding.

.           Upon graduation in 1958, Paul went to work at United States Gypsum in Lisbon Falls Maine.  Shortly thereafter, he became engaged to Dolly and they were married on May 23, 1959 at St. Joseph’s church in Lewiston.   They honeymooned in Miami Beach and then returned to Lewiston where they rented an apartment from his father on College Street, about a block from the family home on Sabattus Street.   Paul continued to work at US Gypsum while Dolly continued to work at the Maine Employment Security Commission, until a month before the birth of Paul Jr. on March 16, 1960.  Unfortunately, Paul Jr. was born with a congenital heart defect, which was a cause of worry for the family.  During this period, the family spent a lot of time with their extended families.  Dolly would often walk with Paul Jr. down to the Sabattus Street home and visit with Andre  and Marguerite during the day.  Additionally, the extended family got together frequently at Paul’s father’s house, especially for the holidays.

            In Mid 1961, the family had a significant setback as Paul was laid off from US Gypsum with a second child on the way.  He found a job working as a civilian engineer for the Army at the Natick labs, a research center about 20 miles outside of Boston.  Shortly after Janet’s birth on June 2, 1961, the family moved to a small Cape Cod house on 40 Franconia Avenue, a few blocks from Paul’s new job but 150 miles from the family support structure in Lewiston.

            During his six years at the Natick lab, Paul worked on various projects, including the development of a new field stove.   He also developed a specialty wrench that the army uses with its fuel equipment.  This development resulted in a patent award registered by the U.S patent office.  For recreation, he played tennis with his friends.  He took up golf for a while but didn’t enjoy it enough to stick with it.    The family continued to grow, with the birth of Richard on August 17, 1963, Sandra on August 21, 1964 and Michael on September 28, 1965.  As the family grew, Paul converted the attic of the house to a bedroom for the boys.  The family visited Maine a few times each year and Paul and Dolly’s parents would each visit for a week each year as well.

            Through this period, the health of Paul Jr. continued to be a major concern.  His heart defect did not allow him to even walk around the block with the family.   After a delay because of the measles, on June 22, 1965, Paul Jr. had open heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.   It was a difficult surgery, with his heart stopping twice, followed by pneumonia.  He was in the hospital for 3 tense weeks with Paul’s parents visiting to help with the other kids as Paul and Dolly visited the hospital each day.   Fortunately, everything turned out well and the family returned to normal.

            In June 1967, Paul took a promotion, transferring to Fort Belvoir, Virginia.   It was a big decision to uproot the family and move 500 miles and he shared that decision with the older children.  He was able to buy a much larger, 4 bedroom house in a new development at 4223 Alcott Street in Alexandria for $30,000.  The family prospered in their new home, making many friends in a close knit neighborhood.  Paul and Dolly held a yearly New Year’s Eve party for the neighbors and played bridge weekly.  Family continued to be a big part of their lives despite the distance to Maine. The entire family loaded up in a station wagon for yearly trips to Maine each summer to visit family and Paul and Dolly’s parents typically visited for a week each year as well.   On June 18, 1969, the family was completed with the birth of Maria. 

            After the birth of Maria, Paul decided to take on a major building project, adding on two more bedrooms and a large screened-in porch to the house on Alcott Street.  This was the first really big project where he could put to bear the learning he had working with his father.  As his father had done, he enlisted his sons to help work on the project, teaching them valuable building skills.  The work turned out very well, and provided much more room for the children, so that only two had to share a room at any one time. After doing the home projects, Paul branched out and in partnership with Jim Porterfield, did some contracting work on the side, building patios and decks and other projects for neighbors.  At one point, he bought an investment house in Arlington VA and fixed it up for resale with the help of some of the older children.  

            The children grew up in an athletic environment.  The family always had a ping pong table and both Paul and Dolly played with the children.  As the family grew older, Paul would also take them to play tennis.  A basketball hoop was put up in the driveway and all the children played regularly.  There were also lively games of football, stickball, baseball, wiffleball, kickball and dodgeball in the street, in the backyard and at the local elementary school every day.  Around 1972, Paul took on another major project and added a large above ground pool with a large wooden deck to the backyard.  The pool had a slide and a diving board and was a major source of entertainment for the family and the neighbors as long as they lived in the house.  When the children got older, they started playing and in some cases, starring in the local basketball and baseball leagues.  Eventually, most of the children played  varsity sports at Mount Vernon High School.  Paul and Dolly were always at the games to root their children on.

            Family was always important to Paul and he was a very hands-on father.  Paul and Dolly were a team in raising their children sharing many of the daily household responsibilities including cleaning, diaper changing, babysitting, carpooling, homework etc. Paul evolved to be the family grocery shopper and was better than most in finding the bargains each Saturday often visiting 3-4 grocery stores to accomplish it.  This was an errand that Maria enjoyed sharing with her father and they grocery shopped together every Saturday.  On occasion, Paul would take Maria to McDonalds for breakfast while they were out, a rare treat being a part of a family of 8. 

            Paul and Dolly always emphasized academics with their children and instilled a desire to go to college at a very young age.  They had an incentive program where they would bring any child out to dinner if they got straight A’s on a report card, a rare treat in a large family. Likewise, they emphasized saving money for college and would double any money that the children put in the bank for that reason.  This paid off, as all 6 children graduated from college and developed solid careers. They also emphasized the Roman Catholic faith, saying grace at meals, having family prayers, and bringing the family to weekly mass and monthly confessions.     Although they never taught religious education, they did offer their homes for classes.  The family also was taught to chip in at home and every child had weekly chores to do, according to their interests and ability.  With the exception of Paul Jr., who had a second open heart surgery in 1977 and Janet, who had a ruptured appendix, the family was remarkably healthy with very few trips to the emergency room and only minor illnesses. 

            Living in Washington DC area also had advantages to the family in terms of availability of museums and sight seeing.  The family took significant advantage of that, visiting them regularly with whatever visitors we had.  In addition, the family liked to go camping and did it fairly frequently using a large 6 person tent, Ted Williams’ signature tent from Sears.  On one such trip, the family had a major scare when Janet, who was about 8 or 9 at the time, was lost for several hours.  Fortunately, she was found safe and sound.

            In the mid 1970s, Paul took one more promotion, moving from Fort Belvoir to Army Material Command headquarters in downtown Alexandria.  This added to his pay but also increased his commute.  To beat the traffic, he would typically start before 7 and be home by 4:15 each day to work on his home projects.  He later passed up other promotions because he didn’t want the additional responsibility and valued his family time more.  Once the children were all in school, Dolly went back to work as a nurse’s aid in the local schools, which enabled her to work the same hours and days as the children.       

            In 1978, as Paul Jr. went off the college, the family moved one last time, to 9102 Old Mount Vernon Road.   This house was bigger and in a better neighborhood but still within the borders of Mount Vernon High School, so only Maria had to change schools.  On New Years, 1979,  Paul and Dolly had one last New Year’s Eve party in the old neighborhood while allowing Paul Jr.,  who was home from college to have the first party in the new house.  Over the years, to the consternation of the neighbors, there were many, many more parties at this house, hosted by all the Chaloux children and occasionally by the parents.  In the summer after they moved in, under pressure from the family, Paul decided to add an in-ground pool and a big new deck to the new house.  As usual, it was very well done and it has been enjoyed by the family and their friends for almost 30 years.

            Over the years, Paul had many opportunities to show his patience with his children.  In 1988, while looking for a job after graduating from college, Mike moved back home.   On one nice late summer day he decided that he wanted a convertible.   Instead of buying a convertible, he had a better idea.   He took his Chevy Malibu to his friend “Gumby’s” house and cut off its roof.   As Mike described it, “It was great.  I remember driving it home and getting strange looks from people as I drove past.  When I got home, I will never forget the look on my father’s face.  It was classic.  He was standing at the bottom of the driveway as I pulled in.  He looked up and with a slight smile, shook his head in disbelief.    I said “Hey dad, how about this?”   He asked one simple question “What are you going to do when it rains?” Just then I realized that my car and my plan had a big hole in it.”

            Paul also could offer sage advice.  When Richard was struggling in his second year in Physics at Longwood College, he called home to say he was going to drop out.  Paul simply asked him to send his new address, which made Rich understand that he needed a plan.  Rich completed his degree and went on to a successful career.  He used a different tact with Sandra, when she struggled in her first year of engineering at Virginia Tech.  He supported her in her decision to transfer out of engineering, encouraging her to find something she really loved to do.  Later, when Sandra decided to start her own consulting business,  Paul gave her both moral and financial support, saying that there is no better investment than in the family.

            As time passed,  family members began to pass on.  The first was Paul’s sister Claire, who died in 1972 at the age of 42 from a heart attack.  This highlighted a family tendency toward high cholesterol that made Paul spend over 30 years as part of an NIH study on cholesterol-reducing drugs like the statins.  In 1976, Dolly’s mother passed away from a stroke.  After this, for several years, Dolly’s father Joe Murdock spent several months a year with the family.  In 1985, Paul’s father died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, followed 2 years later by his step mother, Marguerite, who had skin cancer.  Finally, in 1992, Dolly’s father passed away after a long illness.

            Starting in 1986, the family started to grow again.  On November 29, 1986, Janet married Gary Baum at Good Shepard Church in Alexandria, the family parish.  All of the family participated as ushers and groomsmen.  On August 2, 1987, Paul Jr. married Susan Turski in New York, where they lived.  Paul Sr. was one of the readers at the mass.   On  May 13, 1989, Paul and Dolly got their first grandchild when Jeremy was born to Gary and Janet.  Paul and Dolly went to California to help out.  Over the next 5 years, Paul and Dolly got 5 more grandchildren,  with Gary and Janet having Brittany on November 27, 1991 and Paul Jr. and Sue having Kathy on March 8, 1991; Tom on May 8, 1992, John on July 23, 1993 and Dan on December 5, 1994.    On May 3, 1997, Mike married Rhonda Wetherington.  They had two children, Maddie, born December 23, 1998 and Zach, born May 15, 2000. Sandra married Tom Conway on October 2, 1999 and Maria married Rich Buckner on February 10, 1999.  Rich has 3 children, Steven, Amanda and Morgan, from a previous marriage. Rich and Maria had Nicole on May 19, 2002 to complete the family to date. 

            In 1992, as the last of the children graduated from college and moved away, Dolly retired from her job at Mount Vernon High School and one year later, Paul retired from his job with the Army.   They had done quite well financially, having put all 6 children through college, paying off their house and retiring with full benefits.  They helped out their children financially on many occasions, providing bridge loans to help finance new houses or other expenses.  All of the children did well professionally, with Maria and Sandra owning their own businesses, Mike becoming a software development Executive Director at Cox communications, Rich becoming successful in technical sales, Janet becoming a teacher and Paul working 30 years as an engineer and strategist at IBM.  The children became handy at home as well.  Mike and Paul both refinished basements , built decks and added additions to their houses.

            With the children out of the house, Paul and Dolly started spending a significant amount of time on the road, visiting their children, siblings and just taking vacation.   Family continued to be very important.    Once a year, the entire family, up to 25 members, got together and rented a beach house somewhere.  In addition, Paul and Dolly spent a few weeks every year in Florida with their siblings, where they discussed old times, new times and played a lot of cards.  They usually visited Maine at least once per year, sometimes to attend class reunions.   They also went to Atlanta, New York and San Diego to visit children living there.  They often went to lunch or dinner with Sandra, Richard, and Maria, who still lived in the area. Since they no longer had their own children to watch,  Paul and Dolly spend a lot more time watching athletics on TV, including football, baseball and basketball.  Both Paul and Dolly played a lot of cards and bowled in leagues and kept up with friends and family through the internet. Paul spent a lot of time fixing up things around the house and keeping it immaculately clean, a trait that his brothers maintain is part of the French heritage and specifically a trait shared by his mother.  Dolly worked once a week as a volunteer at the hospital thrift store.

            On his 75th birthday in 2007, the family had a large party at Maria’s house that was very well attended by friends and family.  In August, Paul and Dolly went on a cruise with over 20 family members in celebration of  Irene and Louis Boucher’s 50th anniversary and Paul and Sue’s 20th anniversary.   Unfortunately, in October 2007,  Paul had a major stroke caused in part by Plavix that he was taking for his cardiac bypasses.  He was touch and go for many days but ultimately survived.  He was left with aphasia and some loss of peripheral vision that left him unable to drive or read, limitations that clearly frustrated him.  Nevertheless,  he regained his health and returned to walking everyday.

             For the next few years, Paul and Dolly continued to travel to various family functions including high school graduations for their five oldest  grandchildren, yearly trips to Maine, and a beach  week with the family.    Rich selflessly moved in with them to help them as their health needs increased.  In 2009, the family celebrated Paul and Dolly’s 50th anniversary with a multiple day party at Maria’s house.  It was attended by over 50 friends and family members.

            The last week of 2010, Dolly had a minor stroke and Paul had a heart attack during the same week.  Paul needed a quadruple bypass and an aortic valve replacement to correct the problem, which he had on January 31, 2011.  The surgery was a technical success but Paul was incoherent for almost 2 weeks following the surgery.   When he came out of it, he started to be affected by Alzheimer’s.   Even though he had memory difficulties, he continued to clean the house and go on walks.   In August, Paul and Dolly went to the beach house with the family in Bethany Beach Delaware and a couple or week’s  later they went to Maine with Rich, Paul, and Maria to visit family.   On September 11, the family gathered again for Dolly’s 80th birthday and a great time was had by all.  Sadly, on October 25, Paul had a major stroke and on October 29, 2011, he died surrounded by family while having this story read to him. 

            Throughout his life, Paul was consistent with his ideals and his upbringing. His love of family and his faith were the center points in his life.   He was a devoted son, brother, husband, and father.   He passed on the fundamental beliefs that he learned from his father to his children which included the importance of family, faith, hard work, education, and athletics.   He taught these things not only with words, but with the way he lived his life.   Even his death was a celebration of family and faith, where the whole family came together to pray and relive the lessons he taught.














Paul’s parents,  Andre and Leona,  on their wedding day: July 5, 1926



Paul and his siblings: Irene, Marcel, Claire and Andy in front of the Orange Street House in 1939.





The Chaloux’s in front of the Webber St  House in 1940


Paul leading the Healy Asylum parade on November 11, 1943 (with Andy):

Paul’s father’s store on Sabattus Street

Paul’s father’s house on 52 Sabattus Street before adding the apartments and barber shop:

The house after the addition of the barber shop:

Paul at age 3                                                   and at age 15:

Dolly and Paul’s High school graduation pictures


Paul’s family in 1943 with his parents

Paul’s family in 1947 with Marguerite:

Paul and Dolly on their Wedding day in front of St. Joseph’s church, Lewiston

Paul and Dolly with their parents on their wedding day:


Paul and Dolly’s first apartment on College Street (Apartment #1 on the first floor):







Paul and Dolly’s family  in 1985 (at Andre Chaloux’s funeral)



















The extended family in 2005: