Durango resident Stephen E. Vaudreuil died Saturday, May 5, 2012, at his home. He was 66. The cause of death was complications of post traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse.
Known as “Eskimo,” he was born to William and Marguerite Nussle Vaudreuil on Oct. 24, 1945, in Fairbanks, Alaska. In 1964, he graduated from Rice Lake High School in Wisconsin, where he played several sports including football and wrestling.
While serving in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1967 during the Vietnam War, he was a “tunnel rat,” going through underground tunnels in search of the Vietcong. Mr. Vaudreuil was awarded numerous medals, including a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Medal of Valor.
“When he left for Vietnam, his mother asked him not to come back with more medals than his father,” his family said. “He was highly decorated and came back with even more medals.”
Mr. Vaudreuil owned a shoe repair shop in Rice Lake, Wis., before he moved to Durango in 2003. He worked as a custodian at Fort Lewis College before he retired.
Mr. Vaudreuil played “Taps” as part of the military honors for Veterans of Foreign Wars funerals. He loved sports and rooted for the Green Bay Packers and University of Wisconsin Badgers’ teams. He enjoyed playing golf and hot-dog skiing.
His favorite pastime was singing karaoke. Mr. Vaudreuil would always start with “Personality.” His companion, Lois Allen, would then sing “Funny Face,” and together they would finish up with “Welcome to My World.”
“He was happy-go-lucky and enjoyed life,” Ms. Allen said. “He joked a lot, and he had a distinctive laugh. He always communicated happy memories and was a compassionate friend to all. He liked to cheer people up and make them smile.”
Mr. Vaudreuil is survived by his companion of more than 18 years, Lois Allen, of Durango; brother, John Vaudreuil, of Madison, Wis.; sister, Mary Vaudreuil, of Grants Pass, Ore.; and two nieces.
Cremation will occur.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 2012, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4031, 1550 Main Ave., in Durango. A light lunch will be served.