James Edmond Gaudreau, 75
ROGERS, CT - James Edmond (“Smiling Jim”) Gaudreau – Auctioneer- (September 17, 1937 – December 25, 2012) passed away at the age of 75, in his home that he was raised in as an infant, with his loving family by his side.
James was born in Putnam to the late Amie Gaudreau & Beatrice (Vachon) Gaudreau. As a child and into his teenage years, Jim lived in Rogers, Putnam, and Central village. When Jim was 14, his father passed away suddenly and Jim was forced into the working field to help support his family’s household. He worked as a stone mason and bricklayer while attending Putnam Trade School and in 1957 became a member of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers Local #1. He retained his membership for many decades to follow, becoming highly skilled in the trowel trade, working on projects such as building Day Kimball Hospital’s “modern addition”, the Library at UConn, pointing Saint Mary’s Church steeple in Putnam, much of the brick work at Hanks Restaurant in Brooklyn CT, and endless masonry projects throughout Northeastern CT.
In 1957, he married the love of his life, Claire (Tetreault) Gaudreau at All Hollows Church in Moosup, CT., moved back to his hometown of Rogers, and started raising his family. In the following year, Jim found a new passion, “The buying and selling of almost anything”. He had his first auction at the barn in Rogers in 1959 that went very well, earning him his nickname “Smiling Jim”.
1963-1964 were busy years for Jim. At the age of 26 he partnered with his friend, John Callahan and built “Trader JJs’ Flea Market” on Route 101 in Dayville, he built his first home in Rogers as well as his neighbor’s house, and helped in the construction of the Williamsville (Rogers) Firehouse, of which he was a member for over 50 years. A few years later, he built Smiling Jim’s Trading Post, where he ran a second hand store downstairs and had many memorable auctions upstairs as well as holding auctions throughout Northeastern CT, including many estate auctions & benefit auctions for just about any civic organization or church. Jim sat on the Killingly Town Council along with his running mate Robert Hire for 4 years, tackling issues such as introducing the industrial park, naming Louisa Viens Drive, incorporating Planning and Zoning Commission, laying the path for getting the entire community of Alexander’s Lake hooked up to city sewer (often joking that he spent 4 years on the council to get his name on a bronze plaque mounted on a sewer pumping station). Jim’s greatest personal desire was to protect the working class people of Killingly, often arguing late into the evenings with his fellow town councilors.
After being struck with severe heart disease in 1984, at the age of 47, the doctors told the family that his likelihood of survival was not very good. Being a strong man and not liking what the doctors had to say, he defied science and fought with the issue, regained his strength, went into semi-retirement, purchased a building next to his vacation home in Norway Maine, and started “Jim’s Lakeside Trading Post”. He ran it on the weekends, making many good friends who enjoyed their weekend visits with him. Doctors still do not understand why he survived for 28 years after his illness, other than a strong will to live and his spirituality, belonging as a life member of Saint Ignatius Church in Rogers and later Saint Joseph’s Church in Dayville.
Jim will always be remembered by all who had the pleasure of knowing him as gentle but strong man, known for his honesty, integrity, helping out many people in need over the years, and of course, for his blue eyed infectious SMILE.
He is survived by Claire, his loving wife of 55 years; a son, James D. Gaudreau and his wife Donna of Rogers, a daughter, Patrice and her husband Tim St.Onge of Ballouville, a son, Kevin Gaudreau and his wife Lisa of Rogers, a son, Jason Gaudreau and his wife Bonnie of Rogers; Grandchildren, Paul Cesolini and his wife Vanessa, James Gaudreau (The Third) and his fiancée Brittany, Ryan Gaudreau, Jonathan Cesolini, Shaina Gaudreau, Brandon Gaudreau, Benjamin Gaudreau, Alyssa Gaudreau, Conner Gaudreau, his 2 great-granddaughters, Chloe & Olivia Cesolini; 3 adopted grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws, as well as his former son-in-law and former daughters-in-laws. He was predeceased by his brothers, Richard (Dick) Gaudreau, Robert (Bob) Gaudreau, and Donald (Donny) Gaudreau and several aunts and uncles.
There will be a high Mass on Saturday, January 5th at 10 am. at Saint Joseph's Church #350 Hartford Pike, Dayville, CT, followed by a celebration of life (that will go well into the late afternoon) at Gaudreau’s Auction and Function Center (the former Saint Ignatius Church), 21 Williamsville Road, Rogers. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Williamsville Fire Engine Company, P.O. Box 141, Rogers CT. 06263 or Hospice of Northeastern CT, 320 Pomfret Street, Putnam CT. 06260. The Shaw-Majercik Funeral Home, 48 School Street, Webster is directing arrangements. A guest book is available at www.shaw-majercik.com.