Leader is the company it is because of the people who work here. Each member of our team, past and present, creates the fabric that makes us who we are. Gary Gaudette's contributions to Leader, their families, and our communities will never be forgotten, and we are honored and privileged to have worked side-by-side with them.
There are some people for whom you ask the question, “Where do I start?” Gary Gaudette was one of those people.
Gary Gaudette, who passed away on November 8, began at Leader in 1966 when he was 19. He spent 49 years with us here at Leader, much of it as a Leader himself, first as General Manager, then as President until his retirement in 2015.
To say that Gary was a wealth of knowledge about sugaring is like saying the Eiffel Tower is just a place in Paris. According to Karl Rocheleau, a team member in our Quality Control department, “Gary knew all about maple history, not just here at Leader, but with all the companies around. We lost a lot this weekend.”
Fred Pettig, our Customer Service Guru, knew Gary from his very first day with Leader. “I was in shipping then, and late at night I'd get backed up with orders. Gary would come down and help me pack them up and get them out. He did that as President. He bent over backwards for people.” When Fred’s dad, a veteran, passed away in the 80s, Fred’s family wanted a military burial. They made many calls but to no avail. Gary, also a veteran, reached out to his contacts and made it happen.
Remembrances shared on Facebook:
I have always looked up to Gary. He was a kind man of honest character. Gary made everyone feel comfortable in his presence with his soft, gruff voice, his warm smile, shake of his head chuckle, his want to help others, and his love of friends and family. Whether it was him following the company's "family" model of doing business, or the whole company following his lead as simply a patriarch of a very extended, motley family – we all truly benefited from his passion and kindness, and respected his honest opinions. Much love to all of his friends and family.
– Dawn Parsons
In 1984, when I was 14, my dad bought me a 2x6 Leader. Gary was the one we talked to on the phone . We ordered it the first part of March, Leader built that evaporator in two weeks, I skipped school and went with my parents to pick it up... I learned so much in that trip!!! I will miss seeing him at the Maple Fest in Croghan NY.
– Frank Buchal
Gary and I became friends attending the meetings at the Vermont Sugar Makers Association. We sat and had lunch together. At Leader open house he always took time to spend an hour with my wife and myself. I missed him this year due to no open house. I knew he was not well. He will be missed!
– Willard Jeff Smith
Gary Gaudette was born in Saint Albans on July 22nd, 1947, the son of the late
Louis J. and Caroline (Pilbin) Gaudette. Gary was 73 years old.
On July 16th, 1966, in Holy Angels Church, he married the love of his life Joyce Brown who survives him.
Gary was a Bellows Free Academy graduate of 1966. He then enlisted in the Vermont National Army Guard in 1966, serving until 2007, retiring as a first sergeant. Gary went on to work at Leader Evaporator in 1966 as a clerk, retiring in 2015 as President of many years. In 1983 he was appointed to the Vermont Maple Industry Council and then a year later he was elected an honorary member of the North American Maple Syrup Council. Gary was named the Maple Person of the year by the Vermont Maple Industry Council in 1996. He was recipient of the first Lynn Reynolds International Maple Syrup Industry Leadership Award, and he was the past Chair of the Vermont Maple Industry Council. In 2000, he was inducted into the Maple Hall of Fame and was awarded the Sumner H. Williams Cup.
Maple was in his blood, he worked in the industry but also enjoyed sugaring with his brother Randy and family in their own woods and many hours of boiling with Damian Branon and family at Shady Maples. Gary was also an avid outdoorsman; he always looked forward to hunting and fishing with family and friends. Summertime was also special because of the hours spent by the lake with all of his campground “family”.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Joyce, of Saint Albans, and their children, Kelly LeBlanc, and her husband, Steve of Swanton and Kenneth Gaudette, and his wife, Lisa, of Shrewsbury MA, as well as his grandchildren, Christopher LeBlanc and his wife, Ashley, Kevin LeBlanc and his wife, Skyler, Paige Gaudette, and Tyler Gaudette, and also one great granddaughter Kinsley LeBlanc.
Gary is also survived by his sister, Brenda Helfrich and her husband, Otis, and brothers Randy Gaudette and his wife, Lisa, and Timothy Gaudette, and his wife, Stacey, mother-in-law, Irene Brown, and many nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, Gary was predeceased by his brother, Alan Gaudette, and father-in-law, Kenneth Brown.
Gary’s family asks that memorials in his name be made to Franklin County Animal Rescue, 30 Sunset Meadows, Saint Albans, Vermont 05478.