Fort Kent’s oldest citizen celebrates 105th birthday with drive-thru parade

FORT KENT, Maine — The wind was a bit chilly but the feeling outside of Crosswinds Residential Care on Saturday could not have been warmer at a drive thru birthday party there for resident Eva (Caron) Deschaine.

 At 105 years old, she is Fort Kent’s oldest citizen. 

Eva Deschaine was honored with a drive thru birthday party at Crosswinds Residential Care on Saturday, March 13. At 105 years old, Deschaine is Fort Kent’s oldest citizen. (Courtesy of Don Raymond)

Deschaine watched through a window in the Crosswinds activity room as a procession of 21 vehicles passed by with well wishers who smiled and waved to honor her on her special day. 

The general public is not allowed inside the care facility in order to keep residents safe from COVID-19. 

Among those who attended were Deschaine’s children — Anna Mae Raymond, Shirleen Deschaine, Jackie Raymond, Philip Deschaine, Roger Deschaine, Joan Pimentel, and Rinette Nadeau — many of whom traveled from as far away as Connecticut.

The pandemic has kept the family apart until now. 

“This is a special time for us,” Jackie Raymond said, “We haven’t been able to get here for a whole year.”  

“It was not about being celebrated but about seeing her family,” Anna Mae Raymond said of her mother. “This is why she kept saying to the CrossWinds attendant, ‘C’est toutes mes enfants.’”

“C’est toutes mes enfants” translates into “These are all my children,” according to son-in law Don Raymond, Anna’s husband. 

Following the vehicle parade, the guests gathered outside the activity room window to sing “Happy Birthday” to Madame Deschaine.

Eva Deschaine was born March 13, 1916 on a self-sufficient farm at Little Black Lake at the end of Fort Kent’s South Perley Brook Road. 

Deschaine and her late husband, Emile Deschaine, were married for 55 years until Emile died in 1987. The couple raised their 10 children in Little Black Lake and Fort Kent.

Once her children were grown, Deschaine worked as a cook at Fort Kent Elementary School until her retirement after 21 years.

She spent most of her free time with her family but also enjoyed playing the card games Charlemagne and solitaire, quilting and crocheting.  

Deschaine is also known to be an excellent cook, with ployes as her specialty. 

“She said that she started making them at the age of 13, and continued making them on a daily basis until she moved to Crosswinds in 2017,” Don Raymond said. “That is 92 years of making ployes.”

Many of Saturday’s birthday party guests remarked on how young Deschaine appears for her age. Perhaps this is related to her love of music, especially French and fiddle music, which keeps her tapping her toes to this day. 

“She always has a radio playing to keep her company,” Don Raymond said. “She once played the harmonica at local house parties, but now plays just a few bars. All the time she plays her feet tap to the tune.” 

Eva Deschaine also has maintained a positive attitude throughout her 105 years. 

“Mrs. Descahine is a real gem,” Don Raymond said. “I have never seen her angry or upset. Even when she is not feeling well, she still carries on with the same smile and enthusiasm.”

Guests gathered outside Crosswinds Residential Care to celebrate the 105th birthday of Eva Deschaine. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.