SWANTON – Rene J. Fournier, age 94, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 9, 2020 at Franklin County Rehab Center in St. Albans.
He was born in West Swanton on April 21, 1926 to the late Adhemar and Leopoldine (Levesque) Fournier.
Rene’s father passed away in 1939, when Rene was a 13-year old boy. He was left to operate the family farm during the Depression, alongside his siblings and his mother. Life experiences through hard times made Rene the man he was. The struggles and hardships made him realize what business was all about and he never forgot where he came from. When he was 17, he decided to join the United States Navy, and being a minor, his mother was required to sign for him to make this commitment. He served as a Signalman 2nd Class, USS LSM-54, during World War II in the South Pacific. When he was honorably discharged from his naval duties, he came home to the family farm in West Swanton and married his wife, Noella in 1950. They then started their family of seven children. Rene began selling seeds in 1957, which led to his career of buying and selling farm equipment.
In 1963, he purchased land on North River Road in Swanton and built Rene J. Fournier Farm Equipment. He held his first public auction in Vermont in 1967. Rene traveled to find used equipment for those farmers who couldn’t afford some of the new innovative equipment. He was a forward thinking businessman, always on the cutting edge of the latest technology. He wasn’t in business for fame or fortune; he simply enjoyed socializing with fellow farmers and people in general and always found a way to pay it forward. He was generous, understanding and helped many he knew and worked with.
Rene found great pleasure in his years following retirement. He traveled all around the world, met Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn at a special White House luncheon, enjoyed many sunset cruises on Lake Champlain in his one-of-a-kind houseboat, attended many Navy reunions with special friends, and spent winters in Florida, thanks to a truly appreciated travel companion, Steve Bigelow. The auctions still continue twice a year, but the summers on Missisquoi Bay will never be the same without Rene driving his boat or making his way around the auction grounds; although he’ll certainly be watching from above.
He is survived by his children, Lou Ann Corbeil and her husband Jean-Luc of North Port, FL, Earl Fournier and his wife Susan, Roy Fournier and his wife Kathryn, Rene G. Fournier and his wife Cathy, Paul Fournier and his wife Tara, Raymond Fournier and his wife Betsy; all of Swanton, and Molly Wilaby and her husband Michael of Allen, TX; 12 grandchildren; 8 great grandchildren; brother, Warren Fournier of Swanton; and several nieces, nephews and special friends. Besides his parents, Rene was predeceased by his wife, Noella Fournier in 2016; grandsons, Nicolas Fournier in 2007 and William Fournier in 2016; sister, Rita Mysliwiec and her husband Rudy; brothers, Leo Fournier and his wife Ilene, and Peter Fournier and his wife Florence; and sister-in-law, Gloria Fournier.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, August 15, 2020 at 11:00 a.m., Church of the Nativity, 65 Canada Street, Swanton, Vermont 05488. Interment will be private and held in the family plot. Rene’s family will hold a Celebration of Life gathering at a later date.
An “Open House” visitation will be held on Friday, August 14, 2020 from 2-8:00 p.m. at Kidder Memorial Home, 89 Grand Avenue, Swanton.
For those who wish, contributions in Rene’s memory may be made to a charity of your choice, or simply, “Pay It Forward.”
Condolences, photos and favorite memories may be shared through www.gossfs.com.