Claude Lavieille was born in 1932 in Coutances.
His parents ran a café facing the stadium. During the war, he endured the bombings while he was 12. He remained traumatized for a long time, to the point of having a fear every time he heared airplanes.
He took a training course so as to become a fitter then left for Germany for a 18 months period of time for military service. He became a staff-sergeant.
In 1952, since he coud not find a job related to his training course, he joined the Manche Rurale – the Rural Manche, a local newspaper – in Coutances. In 1954, he met Marie-Thérèse Champel (also known as Marie-T) whom he married in 1955. They settled in La Chapelle Enjuger – village which was completely destroyed during Operation Cobra).
He was drafted to go to Algeria in 56 where he stayed for 5 months. A particularly long period of time since his wife gave birth to Philippe, their first son, while Claude was in a fighting zone. In 61, Claude and Marie-T have another son, Christophe. After he attended a training course in Paris, Claude officially became a reporter. He joined the Manche Rurale in Saint-Lô.
In the mid 60’s, the family settled in Sant-Jean-De-Daye (where Marie-T is an English teacher). In 68, Claude became co-founder of « L’Agriculteur Normand » – The Norman Farmer – (agricultural newspaper in Caen).
Committed to social and cultural life, Claude was elected as a town councillor from 71 to 83. He was deputy mayor twice from 83 to 95. He also was president (freely) of the town’s emergency services. In 74, he created the day care center in St-Jean-de-Daye whose he will be president for 18 years. Today, it’s named after him. At the village’s main crossroads, it faces the square Frank Towers. He became general subeditor of the press association « Réussir » – Succeed – in 78. He founded and hosted the Training Center of the Agricultural Press whose he was the vice-president.
In 1984, Claude met Frank Towers for the first time. The town council organized a reception to welcome the veterans and their families who visited the area upon the 40th anniversary of D-Day. The two men and their families made friends with each other.
When he retired in 1991, true to his altruistic ideas, he remarkably developped the Manche Food Bank. He achieved feats at the service of the most impoverished persons presidding over it for 3 years. This period constitutes the height of his social and humanitarian commitment. Simultaneously, he visited patients at the France United-States Memorial Hospital in Saint-Lô. His devotion and benevolence made the patients think he was a priest! It is true that Claude had Faith (which he practiced without any proselytism).
In 2000, upon Frank Towers’ request, Claude created the association « Les Fleurs de la Mémoire » with his wife. Its goal is to adopt and lay flowers on the graves of the soldiers resting in the American Cemeteries in Colleville and St James. He presided over it until he passed away in 2005. Ten years after its creation, the association had more than 3 600 members who adopted and, at least once a year, lay flowers on more than 10 000 American soldiers graves whose families have never – or very rarely – been able to visit because of distance.
He passed away in October, 2005, shortly after having celebrated his golden wedding anniversary with Marie-T. Indeed, we cannot mention Claude with his faithful and valiant muse. Discreet, efficient, she has always been there to assist him. She remains much involved in the association. Her patience and expertise are a model for her relatives.
Here is for Claude’s deeds, man of integrity, oblivion and injustice fighter.
Words by Christophe Lavieille
Noticeable awards showing the society acknowledges Claude’s actions
- Securiity and law enforcement operations in French Northern Africa commemorative medal
- The French Combatant Cross in Algeria
- The Agricultural Merit Medal (1983)
- Silver-gilt Agricultural Medal of Honor (1986)
- Golden Labor Medal (1986)
- Golden Medal with palm (1990)
- Silver Regional, Departement, Municipal Medal (1989)
- Academic Palms (2002)
- City of Saint Lô : « Walk Claude Lavieille »
- Town of St-Jean-de-Daye : « Room Claude Lavieille »