TYNGSBORO — Family and friends slowly climbed the steps to St. Mary Magdalen Church, keeping a safe social distance from one another, to say farewell to Albert Daigle Sr., a much-loved Dracut resident and Rotarian extraordinaire.
Daigle died on March 30 at 83, and a small funeral service was held then. However, his family felt the need for a Mass to celebrate his life. That, of course, was impossible in the spring due to COVID-19, said the Rev. Richard Clancy, who was celebrant of the Mass on Saturday.
A large crowd filled the church, but the threat of the virus was clearly present in arrangements for the service. Every other pew was roped off and ushers were careful to limit the number of well-wishers in each pew.
In his homily, Clancy told family and friends that Daigle “lived the life of a disciple.” He was, according to his sons in their eulogies, a hard-working man “devoted to his family, friends and community.”
“My father had the richest life,” said Albert Daigle Jr. And his seven children learned “there was no such thing as a sick day or a snow day.”
His youngest child, David Daigle, said, “It was not uncommon for us to wake up on a Saturday and go someplace with him to set up (for an event).”
“Serving others was not just his motto, he lived it everyday,” David Daigle said.
His son described him as a passionate man who might get angry “but never held grudges. When it was over it was over.”
Daigle Sr. was more than a member of any organization that he supported both in Dracut and Lowell — “he was a leader and a worker,” Clancy said.
As a disciple, Clancy said, “He was called to say ‘yes’… yes to the unknown, to do our best to serve Christ.”
“Al’s life was a life of yeses and it led to so much life in children, grandchildren and friends. Everyone felt like they were his family.”
To the area’s business community, he was known as a certified public accountant who provided insurance, real estate and other services to the public. Next door to the insurance agency he established Almo’s Flower and Garden center with his brother Maurice.
His many and diverse civic activities included the Rotary Club of Dracut, the Lafayette Club and the Friends of D’Youville. He served as Past Grand Knight of the Dracut Knights of Columbus 4225. He also served as treasurer of the Acre Model Neighborhood Organization.
Soon after his passing, Dracut Rotarians posted on social media a short write-up recognizing Daigle and, in particular, one accomplishment.
“He was an active, ever present member of the Club and he will be greatly missed,” said club President Frank Antifonario.
According to Antifonario, Daigle was a member of the club when the charter was granted by Rotary International on Jan. 17, 1970.
Daigle was part of a small group of local businessmen who wanted to bring Rotary’s “service above self” concept to the community of Dracut.
According to local Rotarians, Daigle lived his life giving his time and energy to the people of greater Lowell. He was proud of his French heritage and was always anxious to share his ideas and beliefs with others. He lived according to the principles of Rotary’s 4 Way Test; is it the truth, is it fair to all concerned, will it build goodwill and better friendships, and is it beneficial to all concerned.
“Al could count among his accomplishments perfect attendance at Rotary meetings for nearly 50 years. Recovering from a serious illness in the winter of 2019, he returned to meetings and went on to attend Dracut Rotary Club’s 50th Anniversary event last November. Visitors to Dining Around Dracut were greeted by Al as they entered the event at Lenzi’s on March 2nd, 2020,” Antifonario wrote on the club’s webpage.
Among his other achievements were his efforts as a member of the St. Jean Baptiste Preservation Committee to recover the statue of the Rev. Andre Garrin, a 19th-century pastor of the Lowell church.
It is now in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Chelmsford. He served as a lector, server and user at St. Joseph the Worker Shrine In Lowell, and in 2018 received the Christian Worker Recognition award for his commitment to his faith and the church.
Contemporary Christian music accompanied much of the service including “Come Follow Me,” “On Eagles Wings” and “Gift of Finest Wheat.” But the classical “Ave Maria” accompanied the meditation following the Eucharist.
Daigle was also a proud French-Canadian and in, 1982, was honored as Franco American Man of the Year from the Franco-American Day Committee.
That heritage was honored in the recessional hymn “J’irais la voir un jour” (“I Will See Her One Day,” a folk hymn in veneration of the Virgin Mary).