Ralph and Claire Ledoux, the Observer’s choice for Valentine Couple of 2024, have been married more than 70 years. Each of them has been successful, and each in a different way; together they must have made a formidable team in their younger years, and they still radiate warmth and welcome.
Ralph is a licensed pharmacist, but his career has not followed the usual path. After a stint in the army, working at a base hospital, and after spending some time in drugstore pharmacies, he became a representative for a pharmaceutical company based in New York. His particular assignment was in our area, comprising towns in nearby Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. In the meantime, Claire was busy managing a household of five children amid a number of moves from one town to another. And that’s not all!
One of the Ledoux children, their youngest, suffers from Prader-Willy syndrome; she lives currently in a group home. As a result, Claire became a founding member of the Enfield Association for Retarded Citizens, and an active member of the national Prader-Willy Foundation, volunteering for many years in efforts to help families cope with this rare and challenging birth defect. Her dedication to these causes is remarkable, especially considering her family responsibilities during the same time frame. Four of the Ledoux children live nearby, and one of them, Don (or Dr. Don, as he is known locally), a chiropractor, has remained in Suffield.
The couple met in the late 1940’s in a dance hall in Holyoke, where Ralph grew up. He was attracted to Claire the moment he saw her, a beautiful girl from Springfield; she was wearing a white blouse with a black bow, he says, and Claire remembers that blouse too–of course! They were married four years later, in October of 1953, when Ralph was still in the service. They moved to Suffield in 1983. When asked why they chose Suffield in their middle years, Ralph responded that they wanted a real “country town,” with open space and with farms. They found it here.
It is not possible to mention here the couple’s various civic and recreational activities, which are numerous. Both Ralph and Claire would say that they are very ordinary people. Ordinary? Hardly!