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MA funeral home director calls on public to honor unclaimed veteran on Friday

Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Ty Bjornson | Rear Adm. Linnea Sommer-Weddington, Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, receives the American flag from Chief Equipment Operator Mike Rhoades, Navy Operational Support Center Madison, during graveside service for Signalman 3rd Class William J. Shanahan Jr. Shanahan died serving aboard the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. After nearly 78 years, Shanahan's body was identified using advanced technology and returned for burial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sept 3., 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ty Bjornson/Released)

[A graveside funeral service with military honors will be held at Elmwood Cemetery, 130 North Lowell Street, Methuen, Mass., on Friday, Sept. 20 at 11 a.m.]

A man who never met U.S. Navy veteran Eileen Robichaud wrote her obituary. There was no one else to do it.

The stranger, Kenneth H. Pollard Funeral Home Director Aaron Mizen, wants others to join him for her burial this week at Elmwood Cemetery.

Robichaud died Sept. 6 at age 84 with no family left to honor her, according to Mizen. He is hopeful Methuen residents will show up to fill the void.

They did six months ago, when he extended a similar invitation to honor 95-year-old Albert Corn. He died with only two family members — a brother he had fallen out of touch with and a sister in her late 90s unable to travel from Florida.

About 100 people braved a mid-March chill to say goodbye at the cemetery and thank Corn, who was an Army sergeant and a recipient of the Purple Heart.

Mizen, a 20-year military veteran, is an advocate for veterans’ rights and is well-versed in military funeral protocol.

He learned enough about Robichaud, using military records and sparse documentation, to pen her obituary this week.

Robichaud was a longtime resident of Methuen who died at the Brockton VA Hospital.

She was a member of Searles High School Class of 1953.

An only child, Robichaud grew up surrounded by a large-extended family, including many cousins. Mizen said he spoke on the phone with one of them who lives in California.

“Like so many of her generation and a pioneer in her own right, she felt the call of duty and enlisted in the United States Navy after graduating from high school,” Mizen wrote in the obituary.

Robichaud was a decorated Korean War veteran who served in a naval aviation squadron from Sept. 8, 1953 to Sept. 6, 1957. After her service, she moved to California to live with her aunt’s family until she found a job and a place to live in Torrance, Calif.

She came home to Methuen after her father fell ill, Mizen learned.

Records show that with her mother’s help, Robichaud opened and ran a beauty salon in Methuen Square.

In the late 70s, she returned to college part-time. After selling her salon in the early ’80s, she became a consultant for essential oils, among other entrepreneurial ventures, according to the obituary.

The California cousin recalls Robichaud and her mother traveling New England in a 1923 Jamboree Camper during their spare time.

A graveside funeral service with military honors will be held at Elmwood Cemetery, 130 North Lowell Street, Methuen, on Friday, Sept. 20 at 11 a.m.


© 2019 The Eagle-Tribune