Gabriel Theodore Willette
Gabriel Theodore “Bucky” Willette, 84, of Saranac Lake passed away on May 3, 2021, at home, surrounded by his family.
Gabriel was born on April 12, 1937, to Delia (Gates/Barriere) and Phillip Willette (Ouillet) in Saranac Lake, the youngest of 13 children. He spoke French before he spoke English and was very proud of his French Canadian heritage. He was raised on Santanoni and Shepard avenues. He attended St. Bernard’s School and Petrova School. He was a devout Catholic and member of the St. Bernard’s Church community. Gabriel served in the Air Force as an aircraft engine mechanic. He and the crew were responsible for flying and patrolling along the Atlantic coast near the end of the Korean War.
On Nov. 16, 1957, he married the love of his life, Connie Brooks, who was born on Payeville Road, literally just across the tracks from where he had been born. They were married by Rev. Peter Riani at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake. He and Connie raised four children: Yvonne, Randy, Connie and Geniene. They celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in November 2020.
As a teenager he worked with his older brothers in the roofing and contracting business. As a result he became an accomplished “Jack of all trades” and used this knowledge throughout his working years. He was a great problem solver and could fix almost anything. He did carpentry, plumbing, electrical, furniture repair and refinishing, to name a few. He was a true craftsman.
His occupations included purchasing agent for Trudeau Institute, caretaker for Walt Otto’s camp, construction worker for Commercial Roofing and maintenance supervisor for North Star Industries, from which he retired in 2003, after 18 years.
Gabriel’s greatest accomplishments were his family, the beautiful home he built, as well as a pond, bridge, garage, gazebo and numerous stone garden walls, all under his wife’s supervision. He played the guitar, piano, spoons, harmonica and piano. He was also an avid bowler with a wicked left hook, up until about a year ago. He was an active member of the “Old As You Feel Bowling League,” the American Legion, the Loyal Order of the Moose and the Veterans Memorial Association. He was a lover of animals, especially his beloved Pekingese, spent hours sitting in the bow window and gazebo watching the Adirondack wildlife.
Gabriel was predeceased by his parents Delia and Phillip Willette; six brothers: Lawrence, Adolphus Paul, Raymond, Authur, Roger and Victor; and five sisters: Marcelline Fanning, Katherine Scoursi, Lillian Premo, Mary Willette and Hilda Thompson.
He is survived by his wife Connie and numerous posterity: a son Randy Willette of Argyle; three daughters: Yvonne Parrish (Lester) of Saranac Lake, Connie Martelle (David) of Saranac Lake and Geniene Willette-Burman (Dale) of Bloomingdale. There are eight grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and three step great-grandchildren. He is also survived by one sister, Antoinette Willette of Saranac Lake, and two sisters-in-law: Shirley Willette of Eustis, Florida, and Joan (Brooks) Burgess of Ocala, Florida. There are numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home of Saranac Lake. Calling hours will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday, May 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will take place on Thursday, May 6 at 11 a.m. at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake. Burial will take place at St. Bernard’s Cemetery in Saranac Lake. COVID-19 safety protocols remain in effect, and everyone is reminded to wear face masks and social distance. Family and friends attending in-person calling hours and funeral services are asked to please follow all COVID-19 recommendations including social distancing and wearing a mask. Due to extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic the Willette family understands that it may make it difficult to attend funeral services in person. For those unable to attend, the funeral service will also be webcast on Fortune-Keough Funeral Home’s Facebook page.
In lieu of flowers, family and friends wishing to remember Gabriel T. Willette can make memorial contributions to St. Bernard’s School and High Peaks Hospice in Gabriel’s name in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, 20 Church St., Saranac Lake, NY 12983. Family and friends can also view Bucky’s tribute video, share their memories, leave condolences and sign the online guestbook at www.fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com.