ROCHESTER - Darlene Rae (Oleson) Gagne, 76, of Rochester, died peacefully with family by her side on May 2, 2023 after a sudden illness.
She was born in Haverhill, Mass., on May 29, 1946, the daughter of Warren and Virginia (Gulezia) Oleson. She grew up in Riverside and was a 1964 graduate of Haverhill High School. While in high school she met the love of her life, Paul Gagne. They married and raised 3 children together. While raising and caring for her children she also worked outside the home and retired from the Haverhill Public School System in 2012.
Darlene was best known for her love of her family and friends. Nothing was more important to her than spending time with those she loved. She was a devoted and loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. She was also a caring, generous and thoughtful person to everyone around her. She and Paul would often open up their home to others. They hosted international student performers with Up With People, foreign exchange students, and welcomed their kids' friends who needed a place to stay. Anyone who walked into her home was welcomed with food, drink and comfort. It was just who she was.
Nothing came more natural to Darlene than being a grandma and she doted on her two beloved grandsons. When they were young she tirelessly played their make-believe games, read their favorite stories and provided endless snuggles. She was a cookie-baker extraordinaire and never visited without some small treat. The boys always devoured the delicious food she whipped up for them in the kitchen and they listened to her wise and loving counsel.
Darlene was outgoing, friendly and energetic and made friends wherever she went. She loved camping and for many years she and Paul were seasonal campers at Heavenly Acres Campground in Lebanon, Maine, where she made many lifelong friends. She brought enthusiasm and joy to every activity and was often the life of the party. Her favorite camping trips, however, were the annual trips she took with her family. In recent years, if she wasn't spending time with family, you could usually find Darlene playing cards and board games with her girlfriends, bargain hunting, cooking, baking, and reading.
She is predeceased by her husband Paul Gagne and son Bruce Gagne. She is also predeceased by her parents Warren and Virginia Oleson, sister Deanna Stevenson, and son-in-law, James Marcellos.
Although she experienced much loss in her life, Darlene was unfailingly strong. Her strength lives on in her daughters. She is survived by daughter Monica Woods and son-in-law Matthew of Stamford, Conn., and daughter Adrienne Henson and son-in-law David of Rochester; She is also survived by her grandsons Evan and Owen Woods, her brother Dana Oleson of Utah, and by Eileen Budgen, who was like another daughter to her, and Eileen's husband Gary. She also leaves behind numerous nephews, nieces and friends. Her loss will be felt deeply by all who knew her.