Blanche Chavarry Photos courtesy of Cheryl Poulopoulos

Blanche Chavarry, a retired major of The Salvation Army who dedicated her life to its ministry and community, died Wednesday after a brief illness. She was 96.

Chavarry, of Old Orchard Beach, was a volunteer at The Salvation Army’s Seaside Pavilion for nearly 20 years.
She was remembered Thursday as a kind and resilient woman who made a good pot of coffee and wasn’t afraid to say what was on her mind.

“She was a real pistol, I’ll tell ya,” said Cheryl Poulopoulos, director of the Seaside Pavilion. “She lived a very full life. You don’t get to be 96 without being a little bit stubborn. She knew what she wanted. She had a really strong faith in God.”

Chavarry’s service to The Salvation Army spanned nearly 75 years. She joined its School for Officer Training in 1947. She was promoted through the ranks from lieutenant to captain and major, serving at various Salvation Army Corps throughout New England.

In 1986, Chavarry retired as major of The Salvation Army Northern New England Division.

Chavarry was a beloved fixture at The Salvation Army in Old Orchard Beach. She was remembered Thursday for her compassion and faithful attendance at Sunday services.

Salvation Army Maj. Dan Brunelle said she attended every Sunday for over 30 years.

“She was a lovely woman,” he said Thursday. “Blanche was a treasured member of our community. She was a friend to many, and we will miss her greatly.”

Blanche Chavarry

Chavarry never married. Poulopoulos reflected on her years of service as a major and being a single woman.

“It requires a lot of spunk to be able to do that job and do it well,” she said. “Blanche had that. She had control of a situation wherever she was appointed to serve. She could hold her own. She got the job done and did it well.”

As a volunteer at the Seaside Pavilion. Chavarry took tickets, attended the information table, and served snacks to other volunteers, Poulopoulos said.

“She was the one who would chase you down if you didn’t have your ticket,” she recalled, laughing. “She was this little, four-foot something, 100-pound lady chasing these big, six-foot guys around for their tickets. She was a hoot.”

Chavarry volunteered in The Salvation Army Corps kitchen until 2019. She made coffee for gatherings after church and for special meetings of the advisory board.

“That was her job and she owned it. It was her ministry,” Poulopoulos said.

Chavarry also volunteered at The Salvation Army Northern New England Division headquarters in Portland. She made the drive once a week to assist with administrative duties.

“She was very determined,” Poulopoulos said. “She was a very devoted and committed person. When she took on something she was in it all the way. She really loved people.”

Chavarry enjoyed watching the Boston Red Sox, knitting, and doing word search puzzles. She drove up until two weeks ago and stayed active with the Salvation Army until her death.

A niece, Barbara Sherman of Dalton, Massachusetts, said Chavarry had a sharp mind and a dry sense of humor. She said her whole life was The Salvation Army.

“She loved helping people,” Sherman said. “She was very religious. It was her whole life.”

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