Impeccably dressed and coiffed, cher Papie, Guy Lechault, was a dapper, hardworking, upstanding French citizen. Born in Rouen on Dec. 1, 1926 to Robert Lechault and Jeanne Ducreux, he was raised during hard times between two world wars.
During WWII in Occupied France, like all able-bodied French boys, he was carted off to work for the enemy. Fortunately, he wound up with a German farm family where he was treated justly during unjust times. A few years later back on home soil, he was drafted and sent back to Germany with the Allied forces.
In 1951, he married the love of his life, Francoise Elie. His eleven-year-old granddaughter will tell you, “He met Mamie in a boîte de nuit (night club)!”
They actually met at a tea dance popular after the war. Papie sure could heel turn across the parquet; he twirled me around the tables at our wedding. When my German teammates came to celebrate, without missing a beat, Papie raised his glass to them in cheer, “Prost.”
Together Guy and Francoise raised three children. Two lovely daughters and one fine son, who became my husband.
Before the days that Grand Hotelier schools turned out perfectly trained servers and sommeliers, Guy was a self-taught man learning the trade in bars, restaurants and then at Trouville’s seaside casino. In addition to impeccable table etiquette, he cajoled with the customers in rudimentary English, German, and Dutch. In later years, when guests arrived at Le Grande Bec hotel/restaurant, perched on cliffs above the English Channel, Papie welcomed them to France by serving Normandy’s finest fare from land and sea.
Papie loved sports and could recite the scores of his favorite teams. Once an avid football player, he enjoyed kicking a soccer ball on the beach with his 3 grandsons.
His first granddaughter was the apple of his eye until his adopted granddaughter stole his heart with her infectious laughter and mischievous brown eyes.
Papie was a bricoleur (fixer upper) extraordinaire. He painted homes with the precision of a professional and there wasn’t an appliance that he couldn’t repair. While tinkering, he was also what the French call a râleur (grumbler). I learned a lot of new French words listening to him swear while hammering, chiseling, and drilling away.
In his profession, obliged to work impossibly long hours, family time was precious.
He saved tips to take his children across the country for one week of ski holidays in the Alps. After we moved to Switzerland, and then well into his 70s, he carved the slopes of Mt. Blanc with his son and grandson. Three generations of Lechaults etched life long memories in perfect powder.
His work ethic was so deeply ingrained, he never missed a day on the job putting in 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. In his free time, he remained active fishing and biking until the last few years, when his heart weakened.
Non-judgmental, Papie welcomed me wholeheartedly into the Normand clan with his warm heart. On my first visit to Trouville, he offered me Coca Cola to make me feel at home. Once I developed an appreciation for wine, he served grand crus from his cellar knowing I favored the Burgundies of his mother’s home region.
Though he could command the timely serving of entire restaurant, there was no table he preferred to reign over than the one in his own home where he poured wine, carved roasts and shared the lively repartee that is so very French. After enjoying a 5-course family meal, he would doze off in his favorite chair in front of a football match.
Papie had an infectious smile and an engaging style; he was movie star handsome and as charming as a politician, but without the BS.
Kind, tolerant, industrious, a self made man of humble origins, a loyal husband, loving father, and proud grandfather.
Guy Lechault would have turned 88 this December, but in our hearts, vibrant Papie will remain forty-something forever.
1 December 1926 – 25 September 2014
What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man! So sorry for your loss.
So sorry for your loss. What a lovely story. You really showed us who he was. Thanks for sharing. xo
Thanks Joanie. I can feel your hug long distance.
What a rich life he lived! You wrote a touching, beautiful tribute for your loving, hard working father-in-law. The pictures are eloquent, too! Sending blessing and comfort your way.
Thanks, Amy. I feel your hugs.
Sorry to hear about your loss.
Peace & blessings
Pat, this tribute was so eloquently written that we all have a great sense of who this very special man was – to you, your family and his own. I still fondly remember watching in awe as he expertly and professionally poured 12 perfect glasses of champagne at Nat’s graduation party while holding nothing but the bottom lip of the bottle. And I can attest to his movie star looks!
Oh, Tina, thanks for reminding me of that precious memory of Papie.
What a wonderful life. You’re lucky to have known him.
Yes, I was lucky and so were his grandkids to have had him as part of their lives for so long.
Pat, this post brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely remembrance of your dear father-in-law! Your words truly brought his life, times, and personality into focus, and I love how welcoming he was to bring you a Coke! Thank you for sharing this part of your life. Rest in Peace, dear Papie, and Condolences to his sorrowing family.
Thank you for your kind words, Debbie. They are greatly appreciated especially at this time.
What an incredible man and a lovely tribute to a life lived from cover to cover. May his vibrant spirit remain in your hearts always. Wishing you peace and love as you navigate your loss.
Thanks, Elin. I will hold that image of carrying on his vibrant spirit with me as I walk through my day.
So sorry for your loss…what a beautiful tribute! xoxo
Thanks, Carol. I appreciate hearing from you, especially at this time.
Though I only had the privilege of spending time with Guy on a couple of occasions, I remember his warmth and kindness and the pride he took in his famiy. I see so many of Guy’s fine qualities in Gerald. Our deepest sympathy to all of the Lechault family in their loss. May the best of Papie become the best in each of you. We are holding you in our hearts.
I remember when Papie took you and Lynne on a whirlwind visit to Honfleur. Thanks for your extra special emotional support during this sad time. We feel your love.
Sorry to hear about your loss,Pat. You brought tears to my eyes (as is your custom!) with this beautiful tribute. Once again, I feel I have met him and can, in some way, feel the pain of the loss of such a loving and remarkable man.
Thanks Kathy. Appreciate your words as always especially now.
It is no wonder that Gi and family are always on the go and successful in life. Great tribute to a wonderful caring family man!! Keep his memories alive!!!
Thanks Dukes. That work ethic was so deeply ingrained and passed down to his children that I hardly ever see the G-man.
Mes condoleances a la famille entiere! Thank you for helping us know this excellent man.
My condolences to you all. Papie sounded like a true gem.
Thanks, Nancy. He sure was.
A beautiful tribute, Pat. My prayers and sympathy to the entire family!
Thanks, Barb. Will pass on your message to the rest of the family.
So Sorry for your loss.
So sorry for your loss, Pat. What a wonderful tribute to a special man. He will live on the the hearts of his beloved family.
Helene, that thought brings us comfort. I can see so many characteristics of Papie in my husband and son, too.
So sorry for you and your families loss, what a great tribute and wonderful memories that were made….
Thanks, Deb. I appreciate it.
What a beautiful tribute, Pat. He sounds like a very special person.
Thanks Ruth. I see so much of Papie’s specialness in Gerald and Nic.
We did not know your father in law, but now we have an idea of what a wonderful man he was. We know he will be missed. Please know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Thanks Jeannette and Grant. We really appreciate your kind words, thoughts and prayers at this time.
A truly wonderful tribute Pat, thanks for sharing! Prayers & condolences to you, Gerald & family.
Thanks, Jim. We feel those prayers coming across the Big Pond.
Pat, I’m sorry for your loss. He sounds like a wonderful man who will be greatly missed.
BTW, I just spotted this and another post of yours which had, for some reason, begun going directly into the Spam folder! So sorry not to have responded sooner.
Thanks so much, Lynne. I feel your hugs long distance and always greatly appreciate your support.