SWANTON — Colonel Wayne A. Bourgeois, age 90 years, a lifelong Swanton resident died late Monday evening, Dec. 30, 2013, in the Franklin County Rehab Center.
Born in Swanton on April 20, 1923, he was the son of the late Arthur J. and Marie (Greenough) Bourgeois. On Nov. 26, 1945, he was married to the former Betty Tuscany who predeceased him on Nov. 1, 1999, following 54 years of marriage.
Colonel Bourgeois enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on Feb. 4, 1943, and served in the Central and South Pacific during World War II. He enlisted in the Vermont Army National Guard on May 12, 1947, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on Sept. 4, 1950, with an assignment as platoon leader with Tank Company, 172d Infantry Regiment, 43d Infantry Division. He was called to active duty with his unit on Sept. 5, 1950, and served in the Army of Occupation in Germany. He was promoted to first lieutenant on March 5, 1952. Colonel Bourgeois was released from active duty on July 27, 1952, and was assigned to the Inactive National Guard. He returned to active guard status on Sept. 18, 1952.
On Dec. 28, 1952, he assumed command of Tank Company, 172d Infantry Regiment, 43d Division, which he had reorganized after returning from active duty. He was promoted to captain on May 17, 1954. On May 16, 1959, he was assigned as Operations and Training Officer, of the 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 172d Armor, and was promoted to major on July 28, 1959. He was reassigned as Battalion Executive Officer on Aug. 8, 1960, and as Battalion Commander on April 1, 1963. Colonel Bourgeois was transferred to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 86 Armored Brigade on Jan. 1, 1965, and was assigned as Brigade Operations and Training Officer. His next assignment was Brigade Executive Officer on Sept. 6, 1966. He remained in this position until he assumed the duties of Brigade Commander on March 1, 1970.
He was promoted to the rank of Colonel on March 15, 1970 and was assigned as Assistant Division Commander, 50th Armored Division,
On Oct. 1, 1977, Colonel Bourgeois was Appointed Chief of Staff of the Vermont Army National Guard.
His educational highlights began with Saint Anne’s Academy, Champlain College, Motor Officer School, 1950; Armor Company Officer School, 1955; Amor Officer Advanced School, 1959; Nuclear Weapons Employment Refresher, 1961; Senior Officer Preventative Maintenance, 1961; Army Security Agency School, 1963; Command and General Staff College, 1964; Command and General Staff Refresher, 1965; Armor Field Grade Officer Refresher, 1966; Nuclear Weapon Employment Officer Refresher, 1967; Armor Staff Officer Refresher, 1968; Combat Division Refresher Course, 1968; NBC Weapons Employment Refresher, 1969; RC Brigade Refresher, 1969; Armor Field Grade Officer Refresher, 1969; Armor Staff Officer Refresher, 1971; Civil Disturbance Orientation Course, 1971; Recruiting and Retention Officers School, 1971; Brigade Staff Refresher, 1974; Infantry Command and Staff Officer Refresher, 1975 and Combat Division Refresher Course, 1976.
During Colonel Bourgeois military career he received many decorations and awards including the, Meritorious Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Medal, Presidential Unit Citation (Navy), World War II Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal.
He was also a longtime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Charles DaPrato Post 778 Swanton, American Legion Green Mountain Post 1 St. Albans, US Armor Association, Association of the US Army, National Guard Association and the Marine Corps League.
As a civilian he was the founder, owner and operator of the West Swanton Orchards was a member of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge 1566, National Association of Federal Retired Employees, served as Director of the Swanton Chamber of Commerce and was a charter member of Missisquoi Valley Rescue.
Survivors include his two sons and their wives, Michael and Sheralyn Bourgeois of Swanton and Steven and Deborah Bourgeois of West Swanton; grandchildren, Kiersten Bourgeois, Sean Bourgeois, Jeremy and Alexandria Bourgeois and Justin and Anita Bourgeois; great grandchildren, Brilee Bourgeois, J. Benjamin Michael Bourgeois, Alexandria Grace Bourgeois, Lillian Camille Bourgeois and Ava Francesca Bourgeois and many nieces and nephews.
Besides his parents and his wife Betty, Colonel Bourgeois was predeceased by two brothers, Weldon and Wendell Bourgeois; a sister, Irean Fredette and brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Helen Tuscany.
Funeral Services will be held privately and at the convenience of the family. Father Thomas D. Nadeau will officiate. There will be no public calling hours.
The Rite of Committal and Interment with full military honors will take place Saturday, May 24, 2014 in Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery. A public reception will follow at the West Swanton Orchards.
Gifts in Colonel Bourgeois memory may be made to Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 683, Essex Junction 05453 or to Missisquoi Valley Rescue, P.O. Box 22, Swanton 05488.
To offer private online condolences please visit: www.kiddermemorialhome.com