Rosette S. Hervieux, former mill worker, 96, Lowell, MA
Rosette Marie Simonne (Désilets) Hervieux, a former Lowell mill girl, expert seamstress and mother of four children, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday at Lowell General Hospital. She turned 96 one month ago.
Rose was born on May 23, 1922, in Saint Célestin, Canada, and came to the United States as a young child with her parents, Joseph and Alphonsine Désilets. According to family lore, she and some of her six siblings and were smuggled across the border from Québec in the trunk of a car.
At age 19, she began work at the Merrimack Mills in Lowell, where she earned $20 a week filling the fast-moving bobbins of weaving machines. It was a job she described as extremely dangerous. When her shift ended at 10 p.m., she would change out her uniform overalls and walk home to Textile Avenue in Pawtucketville in the company of a young weaver named Paul Emile Hervieux, who lived in Centralville.
Shortly after their wedding in November 1945, they lived for a time in Vallejo, Calif., where Paul was stationed with the U.S. Navy. They were married for 52 years until Paul's death in November 1997. During their stint in California, Rose worked in the back room at the Emporium department store in San Francisco, where she met a woman named Johnny who became her second mother.
In Lowell, Rose also waitressed at the Dutch Tea Room — when she nearly died from a bout of bacterial meningitis — and spent her last working years stitching apparel at Lowell Lingerie Company. Her only complaint about doing tough factory work while raising four kids was the lack of air-conditioning. "Hard work doesn't kill anyone," she liked to say, though the relentless noise of mills stole the hearing of many of her contemporaries.
Rose was a parishioner of Saint Jeanne d'Arc Church until its closing in 2004, then moved down the street to Saint Rita's Parish. She was a member of Le Circle Jeanne Mance, and the Lowell VFW Post 662's women's auxiliary, where she was known for her rich baked beans. Besides being frequent volunteers at the funeral ceremonies of local military veterans, she and her late husband enjoyed weekly ballroom dancing with their many friends. In her later years, Rose enjoyed travel, Friday night dinners out, and bingo three times a week, especially if she won.
She is survived by her four children: Dennis Hervieux and his wife, Carol, of Lowell; Rachel Hervieux her partner, Leigh Westlake, of Wilmington; Donald Hervieux and his wife, Patricia, of Olympia, Wash.; and Linda Hervieux and her husband, Philip Serafino, of Paris, France. She leaves three grand-children, Keith, Chad and Adam Hervieux; and three great-grandchildren, Jadyn, Alex and Marcus Hervieux. She was a second mother to two nieces, Michele (Beaulieu) Ferrazzani and Dolores Désilets.
HERVIEUX - Relatives and friends are invited to attend Rose's Life Celebration at the MCKENNA-OUELLETTE FUNERAL HOME, 327 Hildreth Street, Lowell on Monday from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday at 11:00 AM at St. Rita Parish, 158 Mammoth Road, Lowell. Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery in Chelmsford. Those who wish, may make donations in Rose's memory to the Walker Rogers VFW Post 662, 190 Plain St., Lowell, MA 01852.