Theresa Boissonneault, a devoted mother and grandmother who had a fierce passion for the Boston Red Sox, died June 7 at Mercy Hospital in Portland of complications from COVID-19. She was 90.

Mrs. Boissonneault’s death marked a grim milestone in Maine’s history. She was the 100th Mainer to die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. At the time of her death, she was living at Cape Memory Care in Cape Elizabeth. According to data released Tuesday by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 residents and 23 staff at Cape Memory Care have tested positive for COVID-19. Six individuals at the facility have died of the virus.

Mrs. Boissonneault was remembered by her family Tuesday as a strong, independent and resilient woman who could fit into any social situation.

“She was a tough lady,” said her grandson, Michael Provencher. “You’re talking about a woman, who at 72 years old, painted her house by herself. It was a single-story ranch. She got up on a 12-foot step ladder to get the eaves. She left no stone unturned when it came to taking care of anything from her house to her cooking.”

Theresa Boissonneault and her grandson, Michael Provencher, eat pizza before Game 1 of the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Photo courtesy Boissonneault family

She grew up in Biddeford one of 13 children, and attended the former St. Joseph’s School in Biddeford, graduating eighth grade.

As a young woman, she worked for Pepperell Manufacturing Company in Biddeford.

Provencher said Tuesday that his grandmother, or memere, grew up poor. He also said she was one of the smartest people he knew. He believes that if she had continued her education, she could have become an engineer.

“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Provencher said. “She was an intelligent woman. She could look at something that was broken. She would take the whole thing apart, fix it and put it back together. She didn’t need the manual, nothing. She loved fixing things. I think that’s the scavenger part of her. Nothing was disposable when you’re poor.”

In 1951, she married Adrien Boissonneault, her husband for 42 years. The couple lived in Biddeford and raised five children. She worked for Corning Incorporated – Life Sciences plant in Kennebunk.

Provencher said his memere loved her family, attending all of her grandchildren’s games, concerts and dance recitals.

“She showed up for everything,” her grandson said. “She was my best friend. She wasn’t just my grandmother, she was my best friend. She was cool … very, very cool and very good to talk to.”

Provencher recalled a school project in which he had to build a replica of the Eiffel Tower.

“I told her about it. That was my mistake,” he said. “She wanted to spend time with me, but she didn’t want to do that spending time with me. I could tell. So, I came home and the thing was built. She said, ‘Check it out. I did it.’ It was made out of wire clothes hangers. That’s how involved she was. At 72 years old she was helping her grandchildren with projects.”

Mrs. Boissonneault had a passion for the Boston Red Sox from the time she went to a game with her husband on their honeymoon. She watched all the games and knew the player’s names. At 84, a highlight of her life was attending a World Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 23, 2013, when the Red Sox hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1.

Provencher bought the tickets. They sat behind the Red Sox dugout about 12 rows from the field.

“I called her and said, “Listen, I just bought tickets to the game,'” he said. “In her French voice, ‘Huh?” I said, “I just bought us tickets to the first game.’ ‘No,’ she said. I said, ‘Yeah, we’re going.’ She was so excited.”

Outside Fenway, they bought a piece of pizza and she proudly sat on the ground to eat. He said she stood in line and bought a blanket as a souvenir.
“I had no idea what she was in line for. She bought me an $80 Red Sox blanket. I said, ‘What’s that for?’ She said, ‘I’m cold. You can have it after I’m done with it.'”

Provencher remembered the moment her favorite player, David Ortiz, hit a home run.

“She would yell out,” Provencher said, trying to replicate her French accent. ‘Come on, Big Papi.’ She’s yelling real loud. She said, ‘That’s my man right there. He’s going to hit one for me. It’s going over that wall over there.’ He hit a home run for her, too. She stood up and watched it, clenching her fists, saying, ‘It’s gone. It’s gone.’ She said, ‘That’s it. We can leave. I got my home run.’ She loved Big Papi.”

Mrs. Boissonneault lived in Saco. She volunteered at Southern Maine Health Care, Notre Dame de Lourdes School and St. Andre School functions.

For the past few years, she struggled with Alzheimer’s disease. At the time of her death, she was living at Cape Memory Care in Cape Elizabeth. She died at Mercy Hospital with her grandson by her side.

Provencher said he will miss her cursing in French and hearing phrases like “Ben voyons donc.”

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