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Publication: Gazette (Montreal) add link
Issue: 26 August 2010, page A1
Title: Happy 103rd, and happy retirement
Web Link: link

Happy 103rd, and happy retirement

Lucille Pacaud says farewell to the Montreal General Hospital after more than a quarter-century of volunteer work

By ANNE SUTHERLAND, The Gazette August 26, 2010

After 27 years of service, Lucille Pacaud is hanging up her smock and calling it quits.

She will no longer be working as a volunteer at the Montreal General Hospital, where she trolled the hallways with her rolling cart selling chocolate bars, magazines, gum and toiletries to bed-ridden patients. Instead, she's getting ready to celebrate her birthday Friday.

She's turning 103.

The oldest volunteer by far at the hospital was feted Wednesday by the ladies and gents she has worked with for more than a quarter-century.

"I never thought of myself as a volunteer. It was just work I enjoyed," said Pacaud, who prefers to be called Lou.

Her job twice a week pushing the "Lou Mobile" around has become too arduous for the centenarian, so she decided two weeks ago that this would be it.

"I lifted two heavy boxes last week, and that was fatal. The next day, I could hardly move," she joked.

There are other age-related physical impairments that she said made up her mind - a mind that is as sharp as a tack.

"Well, I'm deaf and partially blind, and I'm going to be blind," she said through thick lenses that magnify the twinkle in her eye.

Lou was born in Montreal in 1907. Her father, who was in the insurance business, moved the family from Westmount to London, Paris, and back to Montreal.

She attended Trafalgar School for Girls and Kings Hall Compton, now part of Bishop's College School.

Although she said there were numerous parties and many beaux, she never married.

This wasn't Lou's first retirement party. She had another in 1983, when she left Dominion Textiles after 40 years.

Before DomTex, she worked with the Junior League, a women's charitable organization; managed a coffee house at McGill University; and worked for the Jaeger women's sportswear store.

That equals about 75 years in the workforce - a heck of a number for anyone, but Lou takes it in stride.

"I've always loved to work, and here I loved meeting all the different people," she said of her hospital rounds.

"I loved it when I met people from other countries that I had visited, and we'd have these wonderful conversations."

At yesterday's send-off and pre-birthday party, a steady stream of friends came by the hospital volunteer office to pay their respects and wish her well.

"She's a wonderful lady and an inspiration to us all," said Victoria Dunn, a volunteer for 18 years.

Marguerite Dakers, who has 22 years' service, marvelled at Lou's stamina.

"She's hard to keep up with; it's go, go, go," Dakers said.

"I don't think they'll ever get anyone to match her in age or enthusiasm," said Stella Ashford, a 12-year volunteer.

Rita Giulione, the volunteer coordinator at the Montreal General, who organized the sandwiches, pasta salad and chocolate birthday cake for Lou's party, was in awe of her most senior staffer.

"Lou is my most inspirational volunteer. She makes everyone smile," Giulione remarked.

And what does Lou's second retirement hold for the indefatigable woman?

"Mondays, I organize bridge for the ladies; Tuesday is bingo, which I love; and I'm very optimistic of winning the Reader's Digest sweepstakes," she replied. "I'm waiting every day for that final draw, and there's no turning back."

Lou was asked what she would do with the money if she won.

"I would give the money to the hospital, buy a new elevator for the home (Fulford House, where she lives), other charities and my church.

"Oh, and pay my bills. I do have bills."

George Hine, who has been volunteering at the Montreal General for 30 years, will continue to pick Lou up once a month and bring her to the hospital for lunch with the "girls," as she calls the other volunteers.

"Lou is like a mother to me, a real inspiration," Hine said.

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