LEWISTON — Normand “Blackie” Labbe, 87, died peacefully Monday, Feb. 19, surrounded by his loving family. He was born at home on April 24, 1930, in Lewiston, the son of Conrad and Olivine Lapierre Labbe.
He was called “Ti-Noire” from a very young age. He grew up in Lewiston and attended St. Peter’s School until the eighth grade, when he went to work full time alongside his father at L & C Cash Market on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. He delivered groceries with a horse and wagon prior to going to school in the morning. The grocery store moved to the corner of Park and Spruce streets and then to Blake Street. He enjoyed setting up displays of fruit and produce, which eventually led to fulfilling his longtime dream of operating a fruit stand where he could sell the vegetables he grew on his farm in Minot.
In 1986, he opened Blackie’s Farm Fresh Produce on Minot Avenue in Auburn, and then on Sabattus Street in Lewiston. He loved interacting with customers, whom he called “all his friends.” He looked forward to going to work at “the stand” every day.
He married the former Jacqueline Nadeau on July 21, 1952, in Lewiston. They moved to their farm in Minot where they raised their eight children and took in many kids needing a place to live. Needless to say, he put them all to work in the garden. Blackie and Jackie spent many winters in New Port Richey, Fla., but by mid-March he couldn’t wait to come home to go to work in the hothouse. He loved being on his tractors, whether it was giving rides to his grandchildren or pulling his wagon loaded with boxes of tomatoes, corn, pumpkins and all of the vegetables that he grew, which gave him so much pride. Blackie loved being around people and always said he had a good life. He frequently said “he never worked a day in his life because if you’re doing what you like, it’s not work.” He always told his employees that “the cheapest thing in the world is a smile.”
He is survived by his spouse of 65 years, Jackie; five daughters, Claudette and Jim Tainter, of Woolwich, Diane and Steve Jordan, Jeanne and Michael Carpenter, Sandra and Bruce Haley, Laurie Labbe, all of Minot; and three sons, Conrad and Patricia Labbe, Normand (Frenchie) Labbe Jr., and Nikki LaBonne, and Michael and Karen Labbe, all of Minot. Grandchildren include: Mike and Matt Tainter, Eric and Curt Jordan, Jeff and Jake Martin, Nick Labbe, Drew Gallant, Zach LaBonne, Mike Carpenter, Jackie Gotskowski, Cat Haley, Conrad and Hannah Labbe; and several great-grandchildren; one sister, Lorraine Foristal, Manchester, N.H.; brothers-in-law, Armand Cote, of Lisbon, and Norm (Pete) Garant, of Lewiston; a cousin, Jackie Leclair; many nieces and nephews, and a special nephew, Dan Cote; special friends, Dr. Atollah Lataferti, Matt Manson; employees, former employees, many friends and business associates.
He was predeceased by his brother, Conrad (Ti-Blanc) Labbe; sisters, Laurette Poisson, Carmen Cote and Pauline Garant; brothers-in-law, John Foristal, Ovide Poisson and Normand Nadeau; and a close cousin, Normand N. Labbe.
The family wishes to thank the care providers at St. Mary’s Hospital, with special thanks to the staff at the Wound Center, the doctors and their staffs for the excellent care provided to Dad through the years.
You are invited to offer your condolences or share fond memories with the family by visiting “Blackie’s” guest book at www.thefortingroupauburn.com.
Normand “Blackie” R. Labbe Sr.