HOLMDEL, N.J. – In the words of William Shakespeare, on Saturday, October 29, Stephen Laurier Michaud finally [shed] “his mortal coil” and his spirit went to join his family and friends in Heaven. Stephen often proclaimed that William Shakespeare was proof of the existence of God.
Born January 9, 1936, at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., Stephen was the first of four children born to Laurier Alcide and Rose Mable Michaud (nee Keen). His earliest years were spent in “Philly” until the arrival of WWII when he along with his younger sister Phyllis went to live with his paternal grandparents in Hardwick, Vt., while his parents remained behind assisting in the war effort loading bombs onto ships at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.
It was in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom where Stephen, much like his mother, developed a lifelong love of The Green Mountain State while attending Hardwick Academy, swimming in the Lamoille River and Caspian Lake, skiing Stowe, attending and serving as an altar boy at the Catholic Mass in St. Norbert’s Church, spending hours in the Jeudevine Library where his grandfather would give him a quarter if he could find a Zane Grey Western Grampy “Fred” hadn’t read. Two particular memories always stood out in the young boys mind: walking the lunch Grammy “Alice” had prepared to his grandfather working in the stone sheds where he was a stone carver. Also while walking the streets of Hardwick he never forgot the yellow stars displayed in each of the windows representing someone’s son fighting in the war overseas, of whom many were Stephen’s uncles and their children both fighting and dying in Europe and the Pacific.
Upon the war’s conclusion Stephen returned to Philadelphia where he took his younger sister in hand, jumped on the electric trolley and regularly toured the entire city going from museum to museum, movie theatre to movie theatre where his passion for city culture and motion pictures became inflamed, and of course it’s where he became infected with a fever for all Philadelphia Sports teams.
During WWII the DuPont Company had become more open to the hiring of Catholics and Stephen’s parents Laurier and Rose both found employment at the DuPont Chambers Works on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River opposite Wilmington, Del. The family moved to Fort Mott State Park in Salem County where they resided for the next 56 years and welcomed two new children to the family, Michael and John. Young Stephen found himself uprooted again, enrolled in Saint James Elementary School in Penns Grove, N.J., and surrounded with an array of new neighbors and classmates. His love of all things sports brought him his first athletic acclaim while playing football for the Pigs Eye Buzzards. He was not in Philly anymore!
When it was time for high school Stephen applied and was accepted to the Catholic all-boys Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del., where he excelled in the classroom and on the athletic fields. Affectionately known as “The Jersey Jet” and “The Salem Flash” he never forgot the Fall look and scent of running through the Brandywine and Rockford Parks. Many years later his football coach Father James “Buzzy” O’Neill remarked “son, your father was the best tight end I ever coached.”
Graduating “Sallies” in 1954, Stephen elected to join the U.S. Army becoming a member of the 11th Airborne, 503’rd Battalion stationed primarily in Germany. Most importantly during his years of service he befriended a fellow paratrooper Walter W. Wright whom upon the end of their active military duties came home and married Stephen’s sister Phyllis. Walter once stated that during their years overseas Stephen seemed to personally come to know all the librarians in all the cities of Europe where they were stationed. His love for books never abated.
Upon discharge from the military Stephen joined his sister at Glassboro State Teachers College in Glassboro, N.J., where he majored in English. Most importantly it was at Glassboro where the young man fell madly in love with Joan Elizabeth Stultz of Keyport, N.J., whom he married in June 1960 and remained wholly devoted, mind, body and soul until the moment of his passing. This union brought into the world five wonderful children and 10 fabulously delightful grandchildren.
Upon graduation from Glassboro, Stephen accepted a position as English teacher at East Brunswick High School in East Brunswick, N.J., where he taught English and Humanities for 40 years. His love of books, poetry and prose was evident to all whom he encountered and his evident passion for art, film and literature was infectious. His students would all agree that his class was a “must” senior elective everyone needed to take and more importantly, Stephen Michaud was a teacher whom you would never forget. He gave entirely of himself regularly taking his students on extracurricular trips to New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., visiting museums, attending concerts and plays, viewing films, theatrical presentations and lectures. Who could ever forget his bus trips to the theatre district in New York City accompanied by dinner at Mama Leone’s, carriage rides through Central Park, down into the bowels of Rockefeller Center to ice skate or see the New York Experience and then attend a great show on Broadway before taking the bus back home to East Brunswick! And of course—no trip to New York City was ever complete until you paid homage to the burial site of Mr. Michaud’s favorite American author, Herman Melville. Trips such as this were a part of the magical and inspirational Michaud classroom experience. This was all accomplished despite taking place after school hours, on weekends and often paid for out of Stephen’s own pocket. He was the most generous of men in both talent and treasure. He loved life and all of life loved him. To know him or to take his class was to see the beauty in each day through Stephen’s eyes. His vision was what another of his favorite authors F. Scott Fitzgerald would call “the ecstatic cahoots.” Stephen’s smile and joyful presence will be missed in this world. He was a gift to all who met him. “Good night sweet Prince.”
Stephen met and married the love of his life Joan (Stultz) Michaud on June 26, 1960. Together they raised their beautiful family. Stephen was predeceased by his beloved parents, Laurier A. and Rose (Keen) Michaud and his daughter Melody Michaud. He is survived by his loving wife, Joan (Stultz) Michaud, his adoring children, Clifford S. Michaud and his wife Samantha of Matawan, N.J., Melissa Wright and her husband John of South Chatham, Mass., Erin Engenhart, and her husband Rainer of Oak Ridge, N.J. and Melanie Henn and her husband Jeffrey of Carmel, Ind., his caring siblings, Michael Michaud and his wife Renee, John Michaud and his wife Renee and Phyllis Wright and her husband Walter, his cherished grandchildren, Jackson, Sean, Dylan, Olivia, Delaney, Cameron, Katja, Kealyn, Jeffrey and Julia.
In lieu of flowers donations to one of the following in Stephen’s memory would be greatly appreciated, Neptune Food Bank at fulfillnj.org, Alzheimer’s Association, at act.alz.org. or the charity of your choice.
Family and friends are invited to a memorial visitation on Thursday, November 3, from 3 to 7 p.m., at Shore Point Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Inc., 3269 State Highway/Route 35 North, Hazlet, N.J. 07730. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered 10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 4, at Saint Benedict Roman Catholic Church, 165 Bethany Road, Holmdel, N.J. 07733. Interment of cremains will follow at Shoreland Memorial Garden Cemetery, Route 35, Hazlet, N.J. For information, directions, or to send condolences to the family please visit shorepointfh.com