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All That and More

Life didn't get past Frank Gouin

I’ve told you many things about our illustrious and beloved Bay Gardener, Dr. Francis Gouin, in this week’s Valedictory story. Still, a single story barely scratches the surface of a life so rich. 

For one, I didn’t tell you about his good works. He and wife Clara shared a commitment to use their talents to make the world a better place. Frank made many of his contributions through the Lothian Ruritan, a service club with local branches in small towns and rural areas throughout the nation. To help fund the club’s many scholarships to Southern Anne Arundel County students, Frank contributed his skill as a cook, “burning burgers” and brats autumn weekends to feed shoppers at first Homestead and later Greenstreet Gardens. 

For the annual spring spaghetti dinner to help feed the needy — often through South County Assistance Network or Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry — he’d cook 18 gallons of spaghetti sauce divided four ways: meatless, with Italian sausage, with ground beef and with ground turkey. 

He further supported the South County Assistance Network with donations from his garden and by regularly picking up supplies at the Maryland Food Bank. 

Brightening the lives of veterans at Charlotte Hall Veterans Home was a favorite good work. To the Ruritans’ regular fishing outings, Dr. G added home-based pleasures, crafting both a poker table and train table for the vets. 

I didn’t tell you about his community service, or how for decades he organized the annual concert schedule for South County Concert Association, filling the Southern High School auditorium with music and dance. Only in the last months of his sickness did he retire. 

I didn’t tell you how he made friends of most everyone he encountered. How he adopted the doctor who healed him after a pair of bad falls — one from a ladder while cleaning home gutters, the other from his loading dock as he prepared for a Christmas farmers market. They’d make kielbasa together, and when the younger man moved to Maine, Dr. G brought him the gift of a handcrafted wooden kayak. 

Bill Burton, our beloved outdoors columnist, and Frank Gouin, both New Englanders, became fast friends whose plans to fish and enjoy opera together foundered on Bill’s death on August 10, 2009. Days before, Frank sent him a basket of giant peaches fresh from his orchard. Delivering those peaches gave me reason for my last visit to Bill Burton. 

Nor did I tell you about the wry streak of wit, inherited from his father, Romeo Gouin, that led him to test the strength of each batch of homemade horseradish on a son-in-law. When steam came from the taster’s ears, the horseradish was just right. 

Nor much about his devotion to his family, bringing his daughters Tina and Bonnie up with love and such practical skills as pig butchery.  

Nor about his love of travel, from camping with Clara in a big fifth-wheeler to cruising the waters of Norway and Down Under.  

I didn’t tell you about the delight he brought to all that he did. He not only smiled over his work; he overflowed with glee.  

So I tell you now, in these few words, to try to paint a fuller picture of a man who wasted not a moment of his time on God’s good earth. 

 

 

Farewells 

Join Dr. Gouin’s family and community in farewell Sunday August 12, 5-8pm at Lee Funeral Home, 8200 Jennifer Ln., Owings. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday August 13 at 10am at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, 8816 Chesapeake Ave., North Beach. 

His body will be then returned to Earth with burial at Jesus the Good Shepherd Cemetery, 1601 West Mt. Harmony Rd., Owings. 

 

Memorials 

In Dr. Gouin’s memory, swell the Francis R. and Clara L. Gouin Scholarship Fund for students pursuing an education in horticulture, plant science, environmental science or landscape architecture. Send contributions to University of Maryland, Office of Gift Acceptance, Floor 3, Fieldhouse Drive, Bldg. 407, Riggs Alumni Center. College Park, MD 20742-1521. 

The fund also benefits from your purchase of his book, collecting many of his essays for the Annapolis Horticulture Society, Enough Said! : A Guide to Gardening through The Seasons with Dr. Francis R. Gouin. $26.50 including shipping through Annetta H. Kushner at [email protected] 

Flowers are also welcome, as Dr. Gouin’s lifetime work supported the horticulture industry.