MANCHESTER, NH – Two Manchester Police officers had the unexpected honor of participating in a funeral for a military veteran last week – although Detective Sgt. Shawn McCabe and Lt. Steven Mangone of the Manchester Police Traffic Unit never met Charles Pelchat in his lifetime, they were able to help assist his family in giving him a fitting military tribute in the end.
Charles Pelchat, a West High grad and decorated World War II veteran, died July 17 at the age of 94. In the days that followed, Mr. Pelchat’s family put out an open invited via Facebook, for all uniformed personnel – fire, police, EMS, and active or retired military – to attend the funeral and give Mr. Pelchat a proper send off.
His granddaughter, Stacey York, also of Goffstown, wanted to find six soldiers in uniform to serve as pallbearers, which became a more difficult task than anticipated. Wrote York on her Facebook page, “I believe that my grandfather deserves to be carried to his final resting place by soldiers as he was once a soldier at D-Day doing the same.”
Through the power of social media sharing, many people stepped up to honor the family’s wishes, including Sgt. McCabe and Lt. Mangone.
However, when only five pall bearers showed up for the service, Sgt. McCabe stepped in and had the honor of taking part in carrying Mr. Pelchat to his final resting place.
Lt. Mangone also serves as a board member with Honor Flight New England, a volunteer organization that helps transport war veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the war memorials erected in their honor. Due to his experiences on many round-trips as a “guardian” of these veterans, he has a particular heart for the “greatest generation” of men and women, those who served their country and returned to their lives with little fanfare. Because of this, Lt. Mangone helped coordinate the Manchester Police Honor Guard to participate in the funeral service, and provide an escort.
Mr. Pelchat also received a 21-gun salute at the mausoleum, courtesy of Sweeney Post.
Following the service, his granddaughter thanked all those who answered the family’s call.
“While he never talked about the war, I know he would appreciate the fellow military men and woman who came to honor him and escort him to his final resting place today. I believe my Grampy is in heaven, with my Grammy by his side, while he skunks everyone at cribbage and enjoys a bowl of ice cream. We would all be lucky to live 94 amazing years like did and he will forever be in our hearts.”
His full obituary is below:
Charles “Charlie” Rene Pelchat, 94, of Goffstown, died July 17 at Mount Carmel Nursing Home, surrounded by his loving family.
Born in Stratford Center, Quebec, Canada on March 22, 1923, he was the son of Euclide and Euginie (Bourque) Pelchat. He attended St. Jean the Baptist Grammar school and Manchester West High School. Charles became a U.S. Citizen on May 19, 1944 while serving in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was proud to have stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and earned several decorations during his time spent in Northern France, including the European, African, and Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon, the Victory Medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge.
He worked as a landscaper for Chagnon’s Garden Center. He left his mark at various areas of the city with his plantings at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Bishop’s House, and many homes in Manchester. “Charlie” was always ready to share his gardening knowledge with anyone who asked for help. His hand-made Christmas wreaths decorated many homes and businesses during the holidays. He had also worked for eight years at the Manchester Racquetball Club doing general maintenance. His third and final job was at Shaw’s Supermarket in Goffstown where he enjoyed seeing the regular customers and sharing an occasional joke. He retired at the age of 80.
Charles enjoyed watching the New England Patriots and was an avid Red Sox fan. He enjoyed going out for breakfast and loved ice cream, blueberry pancakes, and chocolate.
He was a quiet, humble and gentle man who had an infectious smile. He had a good sense of humor and a genuine love and concern for others. As a longtime communicant of St. Marie Parish, he was a devout Catholic and a man of deep faith.
He and his wife Laurette traveled to Florida for the winter months and also owned a camper at Silver Lake where they enjoyed their weekends playing cards and dominos with friends. They had also traveled to England, France, Hawaii, Canada, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas and New York.
He was predeceased by his wife of 63 years, Laurette (Lamy) Pelchat in 2009. He was also predeceased by his siblings and their spouses, Renaud Pelchat and wife Bernice, Louis Pelchat and wife Therese, Cecile Gamelin and husband Roger.
Family members include his children, Diane LeBlanc and husband Robert, Susan Gagne and husband Gerard, Lionel Pelchat and wife Sylvia, Linda LaPlante and husband Richard; his grandchildren, Stephanie Whiting and husband Tex, Stacey York and husband Todd, Christopher LeBlanc; his great-grandchildren, Krysta and Sloane York, Sawyer Whiting; sister-in-law, Claire Browning; brother-in-law, Raymond Lamy and wife Jeannette; many nephews, nieces and friends at Mt. Carmel; as well as his grand-dogs, Molly and Gracie.
The family would like to extend their special thanks to all of the staff at Mt Carmel Nursing Home for the professional, excellent care and concern for Charles. The staff truly are God’s Angels.
A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Friday, July 21, 2017 in St. Marie Church. Interment followed in Mt. Calvary Cemetery Mausoleum.
Donations may be made in his memory to Catholic Charities of New Hampshire, 215 Myrtle St, Manchester, NH 03104.