HENRY P. LAVIGNE
1932 – 2021
With great sadness we announce the passing of Henry LaVigne, beloved husband, father and Poppy, who died peacefully on December 11, 2021 at the age of 89.
Henry’s life began as the fourth of seven siblings on a farm in rural Quebec, Canada. He often described his mother as the hardest working person he had ever known, and the lifelong inspiration for his own work ethic. His childhood duties included picking blueberries and training his own dog to pull a sled four miles each way to provide groceries for the family in the winter.
A special part of the legacy of love that he left behind for his family was a collection of childhood memories and stories.
“When I was nine or ten years old,” he remembered, “I learned a good lesson about negotiation. We were pretty busy fishing and hunting. One day we were lucky and picked up some fish, pike and picks, very nice and quite large.When we got home, my dad said we had too many and we will not keep all of these.Go to the neighbors and try to sell them.I asked him how much should I ask for these? He said : “Twenty-five cents each.” I said, ‘What if they do not want to pay that much?’ “So fifteen cents,” he said. So I continued to sell my fish. The first place I stopped, the man came out to look at my fish. He said, “How much do you want?” I said proudly: ‘Twenty-five cents each, but if you do not want to pay it, then fifteen cents.’ The man said, ‘I will not pay twenty-five cents!’ I quickly said, ‘OK fifteen cents.’ It was my first lesson not to tell all your thoughts when negotiating. “
“At the age of 12 or 13, I was very active with my mother and the rest of the family to cultivate a large garden on our farm and raise cattle, pigs and chickens. Together we cut firewood, caught snow rabbits and hunt grouse In the middle of the summer we harvested a large amount of vegetables, lettuce, radishes, carrots, turnips, potatoes and later tomatoes. and went to sell our vegetables in town. It would give us some money to buy groceries and the necessities for the family. “
As a teenager, Henry became interested in his ancestral family’s tradition of winemaking. “At 2pm, my brother Johnny and I, along with two of our friends, picked up some chokecherries and got sugar and four one-gallon glass jugs. And together we started making some wine. We couldn’t keep it around the house, so we went to butte and saved our cache. Every few days we went and checked our wine. This continued for a few months. One afternoon we went to check our wine and taste it. What a surprise when our neighbor caught us. He was called Pierre Bernard. He gave us all kinds of hell to make wine. What bad boys we were and that he would tell our fathers. ‘Go home!’ he said, ‘And I will not see you here again!’ So we went sad and scared of what was going to happen. About two hours later we saw Pierre come back from behind, singing and staggering and collapsing laughing with a bottle in his hand. He said you were making damn good wine. So we went to check our cache. Pierre was not a fool; he had hidden the wine somewhere else. For a long time Pierre came singing out of the swamp and very happy. “
To better support his family, Henry began working full-time as a lumberjack at age 16 and worked through the winter with his father in a timber camp in northern Ontario. In the summer of 1950, at the age of 18, he worked for a land surveyor in northern Quebec. “I had been away from home for about two months,” he recalled, “without communication with my family. One night in July, I could not sleep most of the night, with the thought of my mother very heavy on my mind. The next morning we went early at work as usual.I was still thinking about the night before.When I was walking alone in the wild forest I stopped to rest.My mind was a little blurred by the lack of sleep.In the distance I saw a white-clad lady standing there, and she disappeared quickly.In that moment I knew my mother had passed away.A month later the work was done and when we traveled out to the small town of St. Felicien on the shores of Lake St. Jean I had a letter there from my sister Liliane, to tell me that our mother had passed away that night in July. “
His long career in mining began when he was 20 years old, at a small gold mine in Rouyn, Quebec. “Then I met HER!” Henry wrote. “She was very beautiful and very shy. Only 17 years old, her name was Rachel.” They married in 1953, and their firstborn son, Guy, arrived in 1955.
Low wages and the need to better support his new family led Henry to join his brother Johnny in northern Manitoba, where he began his many years of work with Patrick Harrison. His hard work and his willingness to learn to use a jackleg drill opened up a new opportunity for him in Elliot Lake, Ontario, where his daughter, Suzanne, was born. After Rachel became pregnant again, the family moved back to Rouyn for the birth of their third child. “I was in the hospital waiting,” Henry wrote. “The doctor came out of the delivery room and said one boy and ONE more! We did not know she was carrying twins, Luc and Andre.”
Over the following decades, his mining career with Harrison would lead him to Elliot Lake, Ontario, Moab, Utah, back to Canada, and eventually to Colorado.
“In 1974,” Henry wrote in his typically understated way, “Rachel died. What a huge loss.”
“Later I met my second wife, Jeanne (Jay) Stillwell. What a big change in my life. Jeanne and I got married in 1981. What a huge decision we both made to get married. Still going strong,” he wrote just three years ago.
Henry was a self-made man who thrived in his career through hard work, a willingness to learn and wise decisions. Because of Harrison-Western’s great respect for his abilities and experience, Henry was appointed to the company’s board of directors, and his work spanned the globe. Over the years, he worked from Alaska to Mexico, South America, France, South Africa, Hong Kong and Australia. Henry’s captivating stories of life – and death – in the mines and other work projects will always be remembered by his family and by the families of the many men whose lives he was personally responsible for saving over the years.
Although largely self-educated, Henry was an engineer who could see, understand, and explain how things around him worked, and who liked solutions that were simple and effective. True to the family name “LaVigne” (“the vine”), he appreciated a good red wine. Other favorite pastimes were fishing, watching the Denver Broncos and following professional hockey. In previous years, he had great satisfaction in training hockey for his two young sons, Luc and André.
Henry thoughtfully arranged to be laid to rest next to his first wife and the mother of his children, Rachel, who is already waiting for him on Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Golden, Colorado. He also died of his son Luc, brother Rolland and sisters Françoise and Liliane.
Back to cherish his memory is his wife of 40 years, Jeanne Stillwell-LaVigne; his children, Guy LaVigne; Suzanne Stacy (Dennis Bale); and André LaVigne; grandchildren: Jeannette Rivera (Michael); Fyr, Jr .; Jessica (Randy) Shibata; Shawn (Sukhanya) Stacy; Aimee (Dustin) Heffelman; Maddison and Morganne LaVigne; Ruth, Jean and Jeanna LaVigne. With his loving presence and gentle guidance, he blessed 12 great-grandchildren: Reece, Gabrielle, Kyan, Kiyana, Chase, Paityn, Cooper, Lucy, Tucker, John, Josias, and Matteo. Henry’s beloved surviving siblings are John (Becky) and Robert (Louise) LaVigne and Paulette (Arcade) Poisson.
Memorial contributions can be made to a special nonprofit organization, Poppy’s Puppies (PoppysPuppies.org), created by his grandson Aimee to honor Poppy’s memory.
The family will receive friends from to at. Funeral services will be held on Monday, January 3, 2022 at. 14.00 in Aspen Arvada Chapel 6370 Union Street Arvada, CO 80004, with funeral following at.
Published by Aspen Mortuary – Arvada January 6, 2022.