Thérèse Anne Bédard, R.N. (1927-2015)

Thérèse Anne Bédard, R.N. (26 July 1927 to 29 January 2015)

therese bedard rnThérèse Bédard, 87, died with her sons by her side a few miles from where the family pulled up in a blue Rambler American in Orange County, California in April 1964. She came home to Québec and was laid to rest with her husband, Jean Bédard on August 2nd, 2015, at 1300h in Sainte Croix de Lobtinière, Jean’s home village.

Never perfect, she always strove to be. Hard headed, she bent her will for the good of all and nursed more people than I ever met back to health over a long career at places like Hopital Maisonneuve in Montreal and Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) in Orange, California.

Thérèse was an ex-novitiate with the Sisters of Charity (Gray Nuns / Soeurs Grises) who had left the order after four years, just before taking her final vows and becoming Sister St. Pierre Celestin. Thérèse met her husband Jean Bédards through Jean’s  sister, Jeanne-Mance. She thought that her brother and Thérèse from Thetford Mines, would suit each other well. She encouraged him to write to her. Thérèse was in nursing school at St. Michel Archange in Québec City.  In Jean’s first letter to her, he declared himself to be “of good humor” and said “to date I haven’t had the easiest life, but it’s always been agreeable. I consider myself to be, and I know that I am, lucky.”

He married Thérèse. He got lucky.


At 9pm in St. Jean d’Iberville on 26 April 1955, John and Thérèse married. It was a quiet ceremony witnessed by two friends, John’s mother Amabilis, and his sister Jeanne-Mance, who would later be Pierre’s godmother. John and Thérèse raised two sons: Pierre born in St. Jean d’Iberville in 1958, and Marc born in Montreal in 1962.

The couple eventually honeymooned by driving a VW Beetle to Mexico City and back. It was the first time John would take Thérèse out of Canada. It would not be the last.

Québec then was a different place than it is today. There was a clearcut class system in place being increasingly questioned as the middle class grew – there were many Québecois sergeants but very few Québecois officers. The reforms eventually brought about by Québec’s Quiet Revolution were only ideas yet to be realized.

In 1963, John applied for a promotion with Canadian Immigration at the Montreal port of entry.  John, who spoke English, French, and Spanish fluently and could swear effectively in Greek, Portuguese, and Yiddish, was attending night school to learn Russian. Passed over for someone from “out ouest” who only spoke English, John chose to vote with his feet. Using his connections from La Colle on the US border south of Montreal, he applied for and obtained US green cards for the family.

On 27 March 1964, Jean, Thérèse, 6 year-old Pierre, and 2 year-old Marc left their home on Place Arthur Buies in Montreal Est for California. Over the next week or so, the family drove their blue 1963 Rambler American across the US on Route 66, towing their possessions in a small trailer. On 4 April 1964, the Bédards arrived in Orange, California.

Life in Orange was all about shift work for both John and Thérèse. Their bed never seemed empty, one worked as the other slept. Life was about 8-4, 4-12, and 12-8 — round the clock, shift after shift.

And then Jean joined US Customs, so the family moved to San Diego for a year while he worked at San Ysidro. 

In 1972, the family moved again, this time to Vientiane, Laos. Returning to San Diego in 1975, Jean and Thérèse retired.

And so it went until Thursday morning, 29 January 2015 at 0455, when Thérèse finished her last shift at Kaiser Hospital in Anaheim, California, a few miles from where the family first settled in Orange.


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