LEWISTON – Marie Marthe Louise Grenier Rivard, 97, of Lewiston, died on Thursday, Feb. 19, at the home of her daughter, Caroline Pease.

She was born Aug. 19, 1911, in St. Leon, Quebec, the seventh of 14 children of Thomas and Anna Dufault Grenier. At the age of 12, she arrived in Lewiston with her parents via the Grand Trunk Railroad. Her older siblings had already relocated in search of good jobs in the local mills.

Life in Lewiston promised more than the farm she left behind. She was a shy girl and spoke no English. She did, however, possess a special charm which led to the development of lifelong friendships. She loved life and life loved her. She was active into her 97th year, taking part in a myriad of activities over nine decades. In her teens, she worked in the mills and gave her earnings to her mother. She found another job at the The Star Hat Shop for her own spending money. Family always came first. Devotion to family, to friends, to community, and to church guided her throughout her life.

She met Romeo “Tom” Rivard, a young entrepreneur who owned the local Dumas-Rivard restaurant. They married Feb. 15, 1941, and settled into housekeeping on Haley Street. Her family of friends was expanding and her new neighbor, Irene Levasseur, introduced her to sewing.

With Tom away in the Army, she developed the hobby into a family enterprise. She continued sewing creatively into her 90s. It was also on Haley Street that she became an avid Red Sox fan. She talked to her small red radio which sat atop the refrigerator. She exclaimed animatedly that “les bases sont loaded!” She cheered her team in two languages.

With the birth of her fifth child, it was time to find a larger home and the family relocated to Sabattus Street. Determined to perfect her English, she obtained a library card and with it was able to explore the world. She became an avid reader: magazines, newspapers, theses, essays, and books, books, books and more friends through the library.

Biographies became her favorite genre and brought the world to her city on the Androscoggin. She decided it was time to return to school. Many years of night classes and encouragement from her teacher led her to continue through high school and on June 13, 1974, she donned cap and gown with her grandnephew, Danny Simard, and received her diploma from Lewiston High School.

One by one, as her children left the nest, she poured more energies into her friends, her social activities, travel, and volunteerism. She would say: “I feel like the Energizer bunny!” She went back to work creating and mending costumes at Drapeau’s Costume Shop. She attended soirees at the Rencontre; the St. Peter and Paul bean suppers; parties with her many friends.

In June 2008, a special tribute was paid to her by the Volunteer Services of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center for having been an active volunteer since 1959, contributing more than 14,000 hours. She was one of the original volunteers when the gift shop first opened.

Her life was not without sorrow. She deeply mourned the passing of many relatives and friends, young and old. The one sadness she could not overcome was the estranged relationship with her son, Tommy.

Her goal was to live to 100. She started planning this party at her 90th birthday by inviting her many friends. She regrets she will be unable to attend on Aug. 19, 2011, but promises to do her best to join and smile upon all who remember that day.

She was a devout Catholic with an unswerving faith. She called upon Jesus, Mary, and the Saints for their intercession to God throughout her life.

She is survived by her children, Tommy of Talmage, Calif., Carmen (Daniel) Corbett of Juno Beach, Fla., Caroline (Larry) Pease, Claudette (Philip) Dube of South Portland, Christine (Dennis) Moore of Auburn; her grandchildren, Michelle (Don) Devost of San Jose, Calif., Mark of Tampa, Fla., and James Jaworski of Miami, Fla., Tom Goulet of London, UK, the rev. Daniel Goulet, U.S. Army, of Frederick, Md., Maria (Brad) Durost of South Portland, Matthew Dube of Plymouth, Mass., Ariel Nazoyin of New York City, N.Y., and Andy Rivard, USAF of Grand Forks, N.D.; her great-grandchild, Ava Devost; her sister, Lydia of Long Beach, Calif.; generations of nieces and nephews; and friends, notably Celine Duchette; adopted daughter; Diane Meservier, devoted friend; and her childhood friend, Laurianne Cormier.

She was predeceased by her husband Tom in 1987; 12 siblings, Alban, Priscilla, Cleophas, Antoine, Gerard, Rosa, Lorette, Clement, Calixte, Blanche, Thomas and Anna; and very many friends.

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