John M. (Bud) Croteau, Sr., 90, of Silver Lake, Chesham, NH and Marco Island, FL, died Sunday, April 27, 2014, at Langdon Place of Keene, after a brief period of declining health.
He was born on September 15, 1923, in Ridgefield Park, NJ, the son of Arthur and Eva (Peterson) Croteau and lived his first ten years in NJ. He watched the George Washington Bridge being built from Palisades Cliff and had many fond memories of New Jersey days.
When the family moved to West Keene, NH, John became very active in sports, especially baseball, basketball and tennis at Keene High School. He became captain of the basketball and baseball teams in Marlborough High School when his family moved there from West Keene to his father's old family homestead on Main Street, Marlborough, NH. He graduated with the Class of 1942
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and started pilot training at Centre College in Danville, KY. He did advanced training at Turner's Field, GA where he received his Wings and became a Lt. Pilot Instructor of B-25 Bombers. Among the training exercises were "short field takeoffs" and not until "30 seconds over Tokyo" became a newspaper headline did everyone learn one of the best kept secrets of World War II: that the United States Navy Carriers took the B-25s closer to the target, Tokyo. After his military service, he returned home and worked for the DuPont Co. and then the Glidden Company for many years honing his craft.
When Sydney Lorandeau retired, he took over the controls at Syd's, and started the commercial paint contracting business which he ran for the next 25 years. During that time he purchased the "Crossways Block" from the St. James Church adding two more buildings. The Sentinel addition completed his block. Now the business has been taken over by John Croteau Jr. It is called Syd's Carpet and Snooze Room, a high quality home design center.
In June 1943, Bud married his lifelong partner of 70 years, Polly (Lorandeau) Croteau. Their home at 209 Court St. became the heart of their two families and all the "in-laws and outlaws" who married into it for more than 30 years. After Court St. they moved to 400 Main Street and lived there for 25 years.
During these years John was very active in local civil service endeavors. He served for over a decade on the Keene City Council; he was chairman of the Public Safety Committee, member of the Finance Committee, a Director of the Chamber of Commerce, and a Director of the Keene Regional Industrial Foundation. He served with a special group of councilors who all held top Governance positions in Keene at that time. He said he was proud of the work they did together in those years, stating "But someday, I'll be remembered only for the one who got the "no smoking in council meetings law passed."
He was President and Secretary of Rotary for 13 years. He was fondly called "Mr. Rotary" for many years after and was honored by the club with the Paul Harris fellowship for long and faithful service. (A Paul Harris Fellow Medal is an award given by the club to a person. It is Rotary's highest honor). In 2010, he was honored, with six fellow Rotarians, for 50 years Rotary membership services. He has since held the honor of having the longest Keene Rotary membership.
Bud was also a member of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, the Silver Lake Land Trust, a past President of Silver Lake Association of Chesham and Nelson and the Loon Preservation Committee of NH.
He was a member of the Antique Car Club of Naples and Marco Island, where he won a national prize for his "Bluebird of Happiness," a 1966 blue Thunderbird convertible.
He loved his winter home in Florida, called the Marco Croteau, where he was member of the Marco Island Country Club and the Marco Island Yacht Club. He took the Coast Guard tests and courses and enjoyed boating in the '90's with first mate, Polly, aboard the JAYCEE, named for their two children and his initials; JC.
He was a supporting member of the "Soldiers' Angels" of Florida, a nonprofit organization that aids deployed American military personnel and their families. He was also a member of both the American Legion Croteau-Coutts Post # 24 in Marlborough and the Gordon Bissell Post # 4 of Keene.
All his life he stayed active in sports. In his early years he was an excellent swimmer, diver, water and winter skier, but tennis remained a lifetime sport. He was an original member of the indoor Keene Racquet Club. On the court at Silver Lake in his retirement years he played with a group he called his "Geriatric Jerry's" retired seniors of excellent tennis court skills.
He enjoyed his homes at 209 Court St. and 400 Main Street, Keene, a hunting and fishing lodge at Lake Umbagog, in Maine, an island home in Florida, and his favorite place in the world, the cottage at Silver Lake in Chesham. He framed a motto by Lincoln which read, "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lived. I like to see a man live so that his place is proud of him."
He loved day sailing in a Lark, and when teenagers of Silver Lake became wild with motor boats on the lake, he solved the problem with sailing practice and Sunday Sailing Races during the 60s and 70s.
The Labor Day Races became a tradition for about 10 years, and the silver Revere Bowl, which he gave when he was president of the Silver Lake Association, has many young sailors' names engraved on it.
Bud is survived by his wife: Polly Croteau of Keene; two children: Sydney Croteau Frechette and her husband, Dr. David Frechette of Granite Lake, and John Manley Croteau,Jr. and his wife and business partner, JoAnn (McGill) Croteau of Keene. The delight of the Croteau's lives were the four grandchildren and six great grandchildren: John (Jay) Croteau III and his wife Tracy (Koch) with John (Jack) Croteau IV and Emily Croteau of Surry; Dr. Amy (Croteau) Watts and her husband, Dr. Michael Watts with Samantha and William Watts of Hingham, MA; Elizabeth Gorton and her husband Halsey Bell with Griffin and Cole Bell of Seattle, WA; Anne Gorton Lovett and her husband Jeffery Lovett of Beaufort, NC; a brother: Arthur Croteau of Marlborough, and a sister: Juliene McIntire of Amherst, MA as well as several nieces and nephews.
His parents and a brother, Harold (Jerry) Croteau died earlier.
Bud felt lucky all of his life with his close and supportive family and for all the wonderful years he lived as a member of the "greatest generation" in the leading country of the world; the United States of America. Until the end, whenever any planes appeared his eyes looked skyward. "Good Night Sweet Prince, may flocks of Angels 'fly' thee to thy Rest."
A Liturgy of the Word will be held on Saturday, May 17 at 11:00 am at St. Bernard Church in Keene. There are no public calling hours and burial will be private.
Although flowers would be welcome, the family has requested that memorial donations can be made to the Rotary Club of Keene, P. O. Box 126, Keene, NH 03431 or to the Silver Lake Association, P.O. Box 82, Harrisville, NH 03450.
Fletcher Funeral Home and Cremation Services, (www.fletcherfuneralhome.com
) 33 Marlboro St, Keene, has been entrusted with the arrangements.