Will be honored during Applefest weekend Sept. 23-24
Submitted by the 2017 Applefest Committee
Northborough – Some Northborough residents like to refer to resident Gerard “Gerry” Bourque as the most patriotic man they have had the pleasure of knowing. And, if you ever have the opportunity to meet him and hear his many stories, you just may agree! In 1953, when Gerard Bourque chose to enlist in the US Army, he knew he was making a big decision. However, he probably did not realize his commitment of serving would still be occurring today at the age of 84.
It is quite fitting that this patriotic man was born on Memorial Day. Gerry was one of 10 children who grew up in Waltham, Mass. He watched as several older siblings set off to serve in WWII and later became one of six brothers to serve in the US Army. The calling to serve in the Army was important enough for him to write about it in his 1951 high school yearbook. Even though he was drafted, he still chose to enlist in 1953. His three year enlistment included 18 months in Korea. He was promoted to rank of Sergeant, E-5 in 22 months. In 1956, Gerry received an honorable discharge. It was at that time, he probably thought his military obligations were over.
But not so fast. His next phase of service began, this time in the town of Northborough. Fifty four years ago, Gerry and his wife Dawn moved to Northborough and raised four children that went through the Northborough public school system. Over the years, they proudly renovated and improved their home. The pair created beautiful gardens with attention to detail that they still enjoy doing today. Naturally, their home could not be without an American flag which is proudly displayed at their front door complementing their stunning flower gardens. It is obvious that Gerry gives 100 percent to everything he does.
Gerry is a proud Life Member of the Vincent F. Picard Post 234, the American Legion in Northborough. He has held several offices at the post level including Commander, Vice Commander, Adjutant, Finance Officer and Chaplain. Today, he continues to serve as Post Service Officer and still is making a difference in our community. The list of accomplishments are too numerous to include in this brief biography, however, one particular story stands out and must be shared. In fact, aside from family, Gerry refers to it as his proudest achievement. In the spring of 2008 a town resident expressed the desire to have a deceased veteran honored on a town plaque or some sort of memorial to honor his service. Because, believe it or not, at that time there were no such memorials around town honoring WWII or the Korean War veterans. As a result, Gerry established a Post 234, World War II – Korean War Memorial Committee.
Efforts of the committee resulted in the installation of 11 memorial plaques using funds from money they raised from many private sources. The completed WWII/ Korean War and also Vietnam War memorial can be found at the corner of Pierce and Hudson streets. After this project, deservingly so, Gerry was honored as Worcester County Legionnaire of the Year in 2009.
Still today, Gerry remains involved in helping local veterans obtain appropriate forms from the VA and NARA websites. He advocates for them by getting some necessary help, benefits and awards they deserve.
If you have ever been to a Memorial Day parade in town from 2004 to the present, Gerry coordinated it. It is such an important event that requires many hours of planning and contact with town wide groups and organizations. In addition, for Memorial Day, he works tirelessly with the Boy Scouts and together they place an American flag on each veteran’s headstone. There are over 700 in town! Gerry developed and obtained post funding for the Honor Guard/Rifle Squad which participates at veterans’ wakes and funerals, Memorial Day ceremonies, parades and ceremonies at the elementary, middle and high schools.
Believe it or not, this is just a small selection of all his fine accomplishments. So, this Applefest weekend look for Gerry. He plans to attend several events. If you happen to have the pleasure to talk with Gerry and his wife Dawn, you will understand why he was nominated by many folks in town as the 2017 Grand Marshal.
Thank you Gerry for your service!