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Dr. Gerald A. Croteau Jr., age 86, passed away on September 30, 2023 after a period of declining health. He was born on August 6, 1937 in Millbury, Mass., to Flora (Nash) and Gerald A. Croteau Sr.
Gerald grew up in Millbury and attended Our Lady of the Assumption School, Millbury and later graduated from St. John’s High School in Worcester in 1955. Gerald subsequently entered Assumption College (Worcester) with a major in philosophy, on a path he thought might lead him to seminary school and the priesthood. Regarding his education from the Jesuit priests at Assumption, he would often say that he found his philosophy studies to be invaluable as it taught him how to think.
His plans for the priesthood changed one evening when he went to the Lakeside Ballroom in Worcester with a few friends. He wasn’t enjoying himself and wanted to leave, but his friends encouraged him to stay for another dance. Shortly after he caught the eye of a lovely young woman named Eleanor Majewski and asked her to dance and a romance ensued.
Dr. Croteau graduated from Assumption College in the spring of 1959 and married Eleanor the following September. Thus began their big adventure during which they raised their family, three sons and a daughter, in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. While busy with work and raising a family, Dr. Croteau earned post-graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts, culminating in a doctorate in education in 1979.
As a young boy, he was fascinated by the sea and briefly considered a life in the Navy. This love of the ocean was realized when he bought a sailboat which he first used to ply the waters of Lake Winnepesaukee. Upon moving to Taunton, he and Eleanor bought a much larger boat that they used to explore the waters around Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and south coastal Rhode Island. Sailing became a haven for him and Eleanor from the stresses of being a school superintendent.
He began his career in education teaching history at a high school in Van Buren, Maine. His teaching career continued in Pembroke, and later, South Hadley, Massachusetts where he taught French, history and Latin. Upon finishing graduate studies in school administration in 1969, Gerald assumed the duties of principal of K through 12 instruction in Marlborough, New Hampshire. Three years later, he became the assistant superintendent of SAU 53, which oversaw 10 small communities located between Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire. Dr. Croteau was promoted to superintendent a few years later when SAU 53 was split into two separate supervisory unions.
In 1981, Dr. Croteau was hired as a superintendent in Taunton, a position he held until 2002. While there, he had an integral role in the planning and construction of many schools and filled them with programs the city had not previously had, among them a dental clinic in a middle school and a first-class theater that bears his name. During his years as a superintendent in Massachusetts, Dr. Croteau was elected president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. Recognizing his contributions to education, the American Association of School Administrators awarded him the 14th Annual Leadership in Learning award in 1995.
After retirement in 2002, Dr. Croteau continued working as a consultant for the Massachusetts School Building Authority as well as several school districts. While he and Eleanor had started traveling before his retirement, their travels expanded greatly. They visited many states out west and made yearly visits to see his eldest son’s family in Washington state. From Washington, they drove across British Columbia and the Yukon territory to reach Alaska. There were Caribbean and European cruises, and trips to Ireland and Arizona to only name a few of their excursions. Of this time, Gerald, famous for his frugality in other ways, said that every dollar spent traveling with his beloved wife was well-spent. And he later wished he had spent more.
Once retired, he felt he was not busy enough, nor content to sit on the sidelines of the development of his much-loved adopted home of Taunton. In XXX, Dr. Croteau ran for and was elected to the Taunton city council, a position he held until 2021. During this time, Gerald also unsuccessfully ran for mayor
Dr. Croteau is predeceased by his parents and his wife of 50 years, Eleanore P. Croteau. He is survived by his brother Richard of Millbury, Massachusetts, his children, Gerald “Skip” Croteau of Kirkland, Washington, and his wife Thuy Nguyen; Katherine Macone and her husband John of Amesbury; Robert Croteau and his wife, Krystyna Kozlowski of Taunton; and Andre Croteau and his wife Kelly of Davenport, Fla.; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He also is survived by his companion and caregiver Virginia Plasse.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2023 at 9:30am in Saint Mary’s Church 14 Saint Mary’s Square (Broadway) Taunton.
Relatives and friends may meet directly at church for his Mass at 9:15am.
Interment will follow for immediate family members in Notre Dame Cemetery, Worcester.
A reception to honor the life of Dr. Croteau will be held at Ward 5 Restaurant 29 Winter Street, Taunton on Saturday, October 7th at 3 pm.
Visiting hours will be held on Friday, October 6th from 2 to 7pm in the Chapel of the Silva Funeral Home 80 Broadway (at Saint Mary’s Square) Taunton.
Additional parking with handicap access is located on the North side of the funeral home, also parking in Saint Mary’s Church lot on Washington Street, the former Saint Mary’s School lot and on Church Street.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts made to; Saint Jude Children's Hospital or to the Taunton Animal Shelter in Gerry's memory, would be deeply appreciated.
For expressions of sympathy, to sign an online guestbook or to light a memorial candle, visit www.silvafuneralhome.com