Benoit Raymond Beaudoin, age 83, of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, died peacefully on Sunday February 4, 2024. He was born on March 16, 1940, in Brunswick, Maine, the first child of Raymond Albert and Dora Josephine Grandmaison Beaudoin.
He attended Saint John the Baptiste Catholic School (class of 1954), Brunswick High School (class of 1958) and in 1962 he graduated from the University of Maine with a BS degree in Engineering Physics. Ben, his sister and two brothers grew up on the farm that his grandfather Joseph Grandmaison bought before the Great Depression and his parents later bought -- dozens of acres of fields, forests, and Casco Bay shoreline -- the most wonderful playground any kids could have had. These Beaudoin Boys did plenty of tree harvesting and wood splitting for their home’s furnace and cook stove. Ben survived, along with his sister Nancy, the Polio epidemic of 1949. He was paralyzed in his throat for a month but was cured through wonderful care of nurses and doctors. Through his schooling years in Maine, beginning around the age of 11, Ben worked summers at Dyer’s Roadside Stand on the Harpswell Road, for David and Florence Dyer, where he learned the value of dedicated work for future success in life. He left Maine in September of 1962, in body but not in spirit, and began working for Westinghouse Electric Corporation as a Junior Engineer in their Graduate Student Training Program. His second trial assignment with Westinghouse was at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory where he first got to work with computers. He started as a nuclear engineer in the design of the Light Water Breeder Reactor (LWBR), a pet project of Admiral H. G. Rickover, father of our Nuclear Navy. Ben soon learned that computer programs were needed to enhance design efforts in that project. He self-learned FORTRAN programming and developed software for LWBR and the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. He attended Carnegie Mellon University to earn a certificate in numerical analysis. Ben shared a patent award for the design of the LWBR reactor core with three other colleagues. He was integrally involved in all aspects of LWBR, along with many dedicated associates, during design, fabrication, operation, testing and end of life evaluation, over a period of 25 years. When LWBR was completed, Ben continued as a software developer for another 18 years. He said that these were his most rewarding years. Ben retired from Bettis in 2006 as an Advisory Scientist after 43 years of service.
Ben met the Love of his Life, Marian Sabol in 1968 at a bowling alley in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. Two friends introduced them. They were married in August of 1969. Their son Christopher Michael was born in October of 1970. Christopher was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 4. Ben and Marian then became advocates for persons with autism. They got a school started for autistic children in Westmoreland County. There were only three diagnosed at that time. Along with the first dedicated teacher and the other two sets of parents, and help from Dan and Connie Torisky, they organized the Westmoreland County Chapter of the Autism Society of America. Ben and Marian served as officers for several years.
Ben was an avid gardener, enjoyed watching deer in his back yard, birds at his bird feeders and the companionship of several dogs and dozens of cats that his wife rescued. He became a loyal Pittsburgh sports fan, especially the Steelers. He and his wife Marian were season Steelers ticket holders and attended Superbowl XIII in Miami. A few days after retiring, Ben attended Superbowl XL with friends. Marian chose to stay home for that one.
Ben brought his Maine roots with him to Pittsburgh and, with his friend, also a UMaine EP graduate that he met at Bettis, Earl Johnson, a Maine lobster fisherman in his younger days, started a lobster party group. Hundreds of lobsters were consumed over the years in North Huntingdon and in Virginia, with Don and Dona Dei, and others, with that group.
Ben’s Uncle Edward Beaudoin traced the Beaudoin family roots through Canada and to France by traveling to churches and discovering records. Jacques Baudouin born in 1645, a Huguenot who converted to Catholicism, left France for Canada, and started the Beaudoin tree in North America. This instilled in Ben a desire to learn even more about his roots. Online ancestry software eventually made that easier to do. Interesting things that Ben learned were that he had a 9th great grandmother who was a native Canadian, first Indian girl to marry a Frenchman. He also learned that his friend Earl’s mother was his 9th cousin, that three of his grammar school classmates were second and third cousins and that his parents were 7th cousins before they married. Ben gradually developed a family tree, more like a spider web, with several thousand ancestors.
He was a member of Mary, Mother of God Parish (St. Angela Merici Church), White Oak, Pennsylvania. He served on the parish pastoral council and was an usher. He photographed church events and produced several picture books of church activities.
Ben was predeceased by his parents, his son Christopher, his brother Roger Francis Beaudoin, his sister Nancy Doris Beaudoin McKissick, and his nephew, Daniel McKissick. He is survived by his wife Marian Sabol of over 50 years, his brother Raymond Albert (Jeanette Young) Beaudoin, Jr., and many nieces and nephews and grands and great grands of both.
The family wishes to thank the many caretakers at UPMC McKeesport and Transitions, North Huntingdon for their wonderful care and attention.
Family and friends will gather on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Strifflers of White Oak Cremation and Mortuary Services, Inc., 1100 Lincoln Way, White Oak, PA 15131 (Sue Striffler Galaski, supervisor, 412-678-6177). A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. at Mary, Mother of God Parish, St. Angela Merici Church, 1640 Fawcett Avenue, White Oak, PA 15131. Burial will follow.
To share a memory or condolence, please visit www.strifflerfuneralhomes.com