Oliver Gaudreau Tribute

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Tribute to Oliver Gaudreau

Bristol – When Bristol native Oliver K. Gaudreau, Sr., 93, passed away April 7, the Bristol boys and Girls Club lost a true and longtime friend.

A member of the organization the past 82 years, Gaudreau was known for his active involvement there as a player on the well-known  volleyball team during the years encompassing world war II.

He was the oldest member of the Older-Members’ Association and the first to swim in the Bristol Boys’ Club pool, says Rex Hamilton, a director at the Laurel Street facility.

He was very active here until three or four years ago when he started losing his eyesight. But prior to that, he just did so much for this club.

Among his contributions was helping Norm Beland, who recently, retired as a Bristol Boys’ Club director, at Camp Wangum, a summer camp for younger members located in Falls Village work was done both weekdays and weekends included repairing buildings and clearing brush. Gaudreau, who retired from New Departure in 1967, was handy with his hands.

“He was always doing something,” says Hamilton. He was a perfectionist and anything he did, he did it right. Anytime we needed something done, we’d call him and he’s come down.

Some of the work he’d done was plumbing, fix the door, fix the safe, you name it.

Gaudreau joined the O.M.’s just two weeks after its charter was established in 1923. He held a number of positions through the years, including in 1941, when he was chairman of stage and scenery, the first year the annual O.M. Show was held.

In recognition of his many contributions, Gaudreau was first recipient of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was subsequently named after him.

As an athlete, Gaudreau positioned himself with some of Boys Club’s biggest names as a member of its volleyball team. Established in 1936. The group competed for 15 years and challenged some of the best in the country.

“He was always a active participant,” says Bob Tetro, a team mate. “He was enthusiastic and very supportive, a great team member”.

“We had Lew King and Fred Beach as a team, Herbie Carlson and Bob Tetro as a team and (Charles) “Stretch” Murphy (two-time) Purdue All-American Basketball player and director of the Bristol Boys Cubs at the time and Parker Strattman as a team, the first team. There were six on a team, consisting of three two – man units, a set-up man and a spiker.

“Ollie teamed up with Ralph Strong as his set-up man. They played together for a year.”

“We traveled to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and other places in the East as well as locally, such as Waterbury, Hartford and Manchester,” says Tetro. “We played in the New England Volleyball League and were champions one year, and played in (and one tournaments all over.”

In 1940 the squad made its only trip to the Volleyball Nationals. Held in Philadelphia, the tournament drew teams from Canada and all over the U.S. Bristol finished 10th in the competition.

Other hats Gaudreau has worn in Boys Club sports and athletics, included his acting a Red Cross swimming examiner and as leader of the rifle Club in the 1940’s.

Likely to have been one of his most favorite of many awards, is a tarnished cup displayed proudly in his bedroom depicting him as the Boys Club’s “All-Around Athlete” in 1928.