Joan's Story

OLD TOWN - Heaven has opened its arms to one of the world's greatest huggers. Our beloved mother, Joan Gaudet, 81, of Old Town, Maine passed away on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 surrounded by her large, loving and bickering family. She was born on August 8th, 1933 in Bangor, Maine to Wesley and Mickey Morton.

She spent her life taking care of others—first her eight children, and when they were fully-grown, she turned her efforts to supporting our nations troops. As a member of the Maine Troop Greeters, she went to the Bangor International Airport at all hours of the day and night, come hell or high water to greet soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines heading to Iraq and Afghanistan or returning home. It was here at the airport, as over one million troops passed through, that Joan perfected her "welcome home hug" enjoyed by men and women alike of all ages and ethnicities. In 2009, Joan was one of the three subjects profiled in the award-winning documentary film The Way We Get By (directed by her son Aron Gaudet and produced by her daughter-in-law Gita Pullapilly), along with fellow troop greeters William Knight (pre-deceased) and Gerald Mundy. Joan took to movie stardom and celebrity gracefully, traveling with the film to the White House for a private meeting with Vice President Joseph Biden, and later to Hollywood, California to accept the Best Documentary award from AARP for 2009, where she hobnobbed with her peers Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges, and Robert DeNiro among others.

She is survived by her children Wendy Long and her husband Jeff of Lincoln, Deborah Johnston of Bradley, Chris Gaudet and his wife Kelly of Hudson, Cynthia Gaudet of Milford, Terry Gaudet of Old Town, Julie Smith and her husband Boyd of Old Town, Jon Gaudet and his wife Kelly of Old Town, and Aron Gaudet and his wife Gita of Los Angeles, grandchildren Jay Long, Troy Johnston, Amy Johnston, Wesley Hopkins, Skylar Hopkins, Seth Hopkins, Ethan Gaudet, Baxter Smith, Canyon Smith, Kaviana Smith, Kristen Lilly, and Nick Gaudet, and great-grandchildren Kayleigh and Mikayla Johnston. She was predeceased by brother Thomas Morton.

A special thank you for the many years of medical care provided by Eastern Maine Medical Center, Brewer Medical Center, and her beloved visiting nurse Scottie Gomm. Your care and kindness to our mother over the years is much appreciated.

Although Joan never sought out the spotlight, a celebration of her life will take place at Birmingham Funeral Home 438 Main St Old Town, Maine on Sunday, November 2nd from 2pm to 5pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the Animal Orphanage of Old Town PO Box 565 Orono, ME 04473.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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Birmingham Funeral Home

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