A modern Renaissance man, he loved literature and philosophy, fly-fishing and family

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Donald Bouchard '63

Asked where he found the courage to battle a stage 4 cancer diagnosis for several years, Donald Bouchard quoted Nietzsche: "Love your fate." That he would choose a philosophy of embracing life's ups and downs and making every day count did not surprise his friends and family. Whether he was studying the classics or reading a spy thriller, teaching a university course on French structuralist Foucault or fly-fishing in a quiet river, Bouchard was always happy to be experiencing something new or exploring "idears," as he liked to say in his New Hampshire accent.

Originally enrolled at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue to study engineering, Bouchard left sophomore year to join the Army, where he became a voracious reader. By the time he was discharged he had decided to switch his major to English, and transferred to UNH to complete his degree. He went on to earn a PhD from SUNY-Buffalo and became a professor of English at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

He was a true romantic, says his wife, Bebeann. He sent a single, long-stemmed rose to her office shortly after they met, and proposed to her within three weeks. They were married three months later and celebrated their 50th anniversary shortly before his death at age 76 on March 13.

The couple moved from Montreal to Albuquerque, New Mexico in the 1980s, in search of a warmer climate. A modern-day Renaissance man who loved to travel, published literary criticism on writers as varied as Milton and Hemingway, and played classical piano, he began a new career in computer sales and consulting and helped Bebeann raise their two daughters,Nickay Bouchard Manning and Alessandra Bouchard Calhoun.

Nickay recalls that, when she and Alessandra were young, her father was considered the funniest dad around. "With a grin, he would say, 'Hi, boys,' to all the girls sitting on our front steps," she says. "The little girls would then chorus back, "We're not boys!"

Bouchard was devoted to his family and looked forward to any celebration that would bring them all together. Christmas was a special favorite because it meant eating one of his favorite foods, a French-Canadian tourtiere (pork pie). His annual holiday letter, full of wit and whimsy, was always eagerly awaited by his friends.

Messages of condolence to the family after Bouchard's death mentioned his wealth of knowledge and wide range of interests. A former McGill colleague called him a brilliant man who "carried his intellect lightly, and always with a warm human dimension.

Originally published by:

UNH Magazine, Spring 2014 Issue