Normand M. Cote

AUBURN – Normand M. Cote passed away April 11, 2021, at the Auburn Hospice House.

He was born in Lewiston, Sept. 21, 1931, the son of William and Melanie Grenier Cote. Norm attended St. Mary’s Parochial School and graduated from St. Dominic High School, class of 1949. He was a member of Holy Cross Church – Prince of Peace Parish.

After high school, Norm enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He went to boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Station. From there he went to Philadelphia, Pa., at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard to attend Damage Control School, where he learned his skills of carpentry, boat repair, welding, sheet metal working, and as well as diving. A skill required to dive to work on the ship’s hulls and propellers. He was then assigned the USS Ajax AR6, a repair ship docked in San Diego, California. In June of 1950, a call came to the Ajax asking for volunteers to go to Point Barrow, Alaska on a resupply expedition, the Expedition was called Barex 50. Being only 19 years old, and anxious to see the world, he volunteered along with 12 of other Ajax shipmates. They boarded the USS Washburn, AKA 108, an attack cargo ship docked in San Diego. The ship traveled along the coast of California and Washington, docking at different ports to load assorted supplies to be delivered to the U.S. Naval Petroleum Reserve #4 at Point Barrow, Alaska, where in June there is the “Midnight Sun” which was very disorienting for the crews of the ships involved.

As the convoy traveled through the Bering Straits between Alaska and Siberia, the war broke out in Korea when the Chinese crossed the 38th parallel, with the United States entering into the Korean War. The crew hurried to unload their supplies at Point Barrow, and the USS Washburn proceeded to Seattle, Washington, where they took aboard part of the 1st Marine Division who were deployed to Korea. Norm took a bus from Seattle to San Diego, to rejoin his ship, the USS Ajax, which immediately proceeded to the Far East stopping in Hawaii for a few days of relaxation before resuming the voyage to Yokosuka, Japan where the US Navy had a large base. Sometimes the Ajax would go to Pusan, Korea to work on ships there as well. The Ajax repaired ships of the United Nations, from reboring ships’ guns, and to making parts that they did not stock and could not purchase, they had to make their own. The ship had its own pattern shop, foundry, machine shops, electrical and electronic shops, operating rooms and as well as dental offices.. The Ajax worked on destroyers, minesweepers, cruisers and battleships and aircraft carriers of all United Nations Navies. Norm was honorably discharged in May 1953 with the rank of Damage Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer.

After the war, Norm returned to Lewiston, Maine, in May of 1953 where his high school sweetheart Rita Dionne, had waited almost four years for his return. Norm would receive letters when he was overseas that were scented with perfume called “Desert Flower” that Norm had bought for her for that wonderful summer of 1949 before leaving for the Navy. After a few months back home, Norm and Rita married at St. Mary’s Church on Sept. 7, 1953. Honeymooned in Niagara Falls, then settled down in Lewiston to raise their family at 23 River St. in Lewiston. He built his own home on Pineland St., Lewiston in 1964 and moved in a year later. Their daughter Rachel was born in December of 1954, and son, Roger born in September of 1956.

In 1953, Norm first worked at Stevens Tank and Tower in Auburn under the GI Bill, making wooden fishing boats, wood silos, water tanks, penstocks, flumes and other wood products. Then he joined the Carpenters Union Local 407. He worked as a millwright and carpenter all over central Maine. Then in 1956 he joined the firm of Charles Bellegarde and Son, General Contractor. He installed over 1,200 kitchens in the area while working for Bellegarde working both in commercial and residential work, building beautiful homes in the area. He worked 35 yrs for them as a foreman. Later he worked for BCD Distributors as Shop Foreman for three years. Then in 1986 Norm started working for Ed Hebert and Sons, General Contractor starting as a carpenter then to foreman then to Project Supervisor.

Norm was a perfectionist, he belonged to the National Wood Carvers of America, and he carved some beautiful pieces. He made a chess set that won many awards at State Fairs, along with carved flowers, parcheesi boards, inlaid woodwork. His most prized accomplishment was a spiral staircase he built for the late Jim Costello, publisher of the Sun Journal, when Charles Bellegarde Jr. built Jim’s home on Buttonwood Lane in Lewiston. Norm was interested in just about everything, including politics, religion, genealogy, photography and current events. He enjoyed working in his garden. He could fix anything. Proficient in computers specially Macs, buying his first Mac in 1985. Enjoyed photography, and sailing at Flying Point in Freeport on a sailboat he built named the “Rita” (After his wife). He managed the website for the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society. Norm was devoted to his co-veterans and was Resourcer of the L-A Veterans Council. He also drew the maps of St. Peter’s Cemetery and Mt. Hope Cemetery, St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Brunswick, and 26 other cemeteries using his CAD software on his computer where he would draw blueprints for different jobs during his career.

Norm was predeceased by his parents, and his loving wife Rita in 2009, a brother, Robert in 2005. He leaves his daughter, Rachel Cote Kidder, R.N. of Lewiston, and her son, Jason Fecteau, a son, Roger Cote of Evansville, Indiana; grandchildren, Teressa Kerr and her husband Drew, Quintyn Taylor, great-grandchildren, Sky Kerr, Koaldon Kerr, Jocelyn Kay Kerr, Arlee Ann Kerr of Indiana. He also leaves his beloved “kid sister”, Estelle Bouchard and her husband, Lawrence “Pete” Bouchard, sisters-in-law Bernadette Cyr, and Rose Dionne.

He will be missed by family and friends who had the pleasure of knowing him. Norm loved everyone. Specially his family which came first in his life.

Arrangements are under the care and direction of The Fortin Group, 217 Turner St., Auburn. Please visit to leave heart felt messages to Normand’s family and friends.

Visitation will be held Thursday, April 15, at The Fortin Group, 70 Horton St., Lewiston 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, April 16, at Holy Cross Church starting at 11 a.m. with a committal to follow at St. Peter’s Cemetery.

Normand M. Cote

Comments are not available on this story.