Oh, but to capture the impact of the most complicated soul, who saw a way to transform the lives she encountered in her earthly journey. And what a journey it was…
Elaine Trudeau took an uncharacteristically quiet exit from our physical world on May 13, 2021. More important than how she departed from us is how she arrived to us.
Elaine Trudeau Blank was born on November 19, 1943, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Elvena Brassard Blank. The journey begins…
Trudeau went to Ursuline Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts for high school and upon graduation was accepted to The College of New Rochelle on a full scholarship. While there, volunteering at a Jewish Community Center would her change her. Her classmates who volunteered with her, and the friends she made within that community, stayed with her for life. (This experience influenced her decision to take a teaching position in Israel. ‘Teach on a hidden military base in The Negev Desert, are you nuts?’ That choice changed her life and Bob’s life in a dramatic way.) But before she goes there…
After college Trudeau took a teaching position in Chicopee, Massachusetts, her home town. This first teaching position is where the “Ms. Trudeau,” as many know her, was born. Miss Blank was loved by all (in her force to be reckoned with sort of way). She also worked summer stock theater (in the round,) at the Storrowtown Music Theatre in West Springfield. Next, leaving her home state, Trudeau lands in Louisville, Kentucky, where she works with the Louisville Actors Theatre, the Louisville Ballet, and an impactful teaching stint at the St. Francis of the Fields School. At St. Francis she encounters the concepts of “open teaching structures” and truly hones her craft as an educator. It is at the Kentucky Country Day School, however, where the love story begins, the one we all know as Braman and Trudeau, two halves of a whole.
Trudeau and Braman were married on April 25, 1981, in Northern Tel Aviv. Trudeau was teaching at the American International School were Braman would eventually join her professionally. The relationships they forged in Israel would be instrumental, woven into the fabric of the rest of their lives. For many years, almost every summer, they would return to Israel for weeks to visit their adopted Israeli family. Their last trip to Israel together was through the holidays in 2018, and they were ever optimistic that they would return again someday.
Travel was an integral part of Trudeau’s curiosity, wanderlust, and career. Over and over she would receive an achievement award from the National Endowment for the Humanities that would take her around the country in the summer, learning at various institutions, feeding her intellectual appetite. In addition to Israel, she traveled to England, and to France. Her sister recollects a trip to Paris with their mother in tow “One of my best experiences was when Trudie, (age 53), our mom (age 82) & I (age 42) went to Paris, just the 3 of us for a week. It was an unforgettable, once in a lifetime trip and Trudie was the penultimate tour guide.”
No personal achievements of Trudeau could excite her as much as the achievements of “her kids.” Her ultimate goal in guiding them was not a grade or a degree, it was that they would become citizens of the world. Hundreds have, and that was her greatest reward. (Her teaching career spanned from Massachusetts, Kentucky, Overseas, and in Alton and Moultonborough, New Hampshire, and Blue Mountain Union, Vermont.)
While Trudeau loved to play or direct any good role on stage, her greatest roles will be remembered by those she impacted on the stage of life. Godmother to her siblings’ firstborns, daughter, big sister, wife, teacher, mentor, aunt, friend....she excelled at leaving a lasting mark from every single encounter..
In reflecting on caring for family, in her brother’s words; “when it came to family, there was nothing she wouldn’t do for them if she knew they needed her. She is everything, thoughtful, selfless…” Her sister adds “whatever she thought would comfort, she brought.” This was true of her as a teacher as well. The world is sprinkled with representation of Ms. Trudeau’s teaching in every corner. One cannot say farewell to Trudeau without hearing the voices of those students…in their words; Impactful, expansive, spectacular, whiner (you have to know her to know why we say that!) hope, sarcastic, action, strong, hilarious, exceptional, inspiring, genuine, funny, imitable, light, energy, complex, joy, admirable, wise, incredible, fantastic, challenging, menace, significant, accepting, mench, ferocious, loving…and always right.
“You will teach them to fly, but they will not fly your flight. You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream. You will teach them to live, but they will not live your life. Nevertheless, in every flight, in every life, in every dream, the print of what you taught them will remain.” Mother Teresa
Trudeau was preceded in death by her mother, Elvena Blank, as well as her maternal Aunt Bea.
Trudeau leaves behind her one and only (heartbroken) Braman… Dr. Robert Braman of Ashland, New Hampshire, where they had retired together. Her maternal Aunt Rita Prendergast; stepdaughter Jennifer Oliveri and her daughters; her stepsons Jefferson and Jonathan Braman and their children; sister Ann Dudley (Bob LaFleur), brother Gene (Joyce Jamroz-Blank,) treasured nieces and nephews, two great nephews and one great niece.
Trudeau lives on in “her kids” which are in the hundreds and cannot be named, they know who they are. Braman and Trudeau have been blessed with amazing friends and angels as Trudeau would say, too many to list, but she would wish to recognize the love poured on them by Jeanne Rudzinski for many years.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for Trudeau on Monday, May 24th at 11:00 am, at St. Matthew Catholic Church 11 School Street in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Social distancing with facial coverings will be required and 60 people may be allowed in the church at one time. Following the service Braman would like to invite you to stop by 26 Collins Street, Ashland, for light refreshments and to share your favorite Trudeau story.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Trudeau in the best way we can imagine, by contributing to a scholarship fund being established in her name. Please send memorial gifts to P.O. Box 1136, Ashland, NH 03217 made out to “Elaine Trudeau Scholarship c/o Dr. Robert Braman.”
Arrangements are by the Dupuis Funeral Home in Ashland. For more information go to dupuisfuneralhome.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Elaine Trudeau, please visit our floral store.