Jacqueline M. Degree, 74, a 44-year resident of East Burke, VT, passed away on October 24th, 2022, at The Eliot Hospital in Manchester, NH.
Jackie was born April 30th, 1948, in Newport, VT. She was one of nine children born to Armand Cadieux of St. Brigid, Que, Canada, and Alice (Tetreault) of Farnham, Que, Canada. Her father was a Gang Foreman for the Canadian Pacific Railroad for 39 years and was one of the foremen in charge of the clean up after the great train wreck in Richford, VT in 1949. He was also a professional boxer. Jackie was proud of her father and often spoke fondly of her memories of him growing up. She would reminisce about the days of playing in the cabooses, riding up front with her dad in the train, and going camping with the whole family at her Uncle Stan’s cabin off the grid, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. There were a lot of sacrifices made coming from a large family, and life was hard, but she credited those in making her the strong, independent woman she was.
Jackie, whose nickname in high school was “Frenchy,” was a 1967 graduate of St. Johnsbury Academy. She married Maurice “Moe” A. Degree (deceased October 18th, 2005) on April 1st, 1967, in what they both recall was an unexpected blizzard for spring. They would have been married for 55 years when Jackie passed.
Her father and Moe’s father worked together on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and in fact, her father was his father’s boss. When her father passed away in 1965, Moe and Jackie met at his service, thanks to the crafty planning of her mother and his father. They very much credited Jackie’s father with indirectly contributing to their union. Even though Moe was 8 years her senior, he was smitten. Jackie would joke that she claimed not to be at first, and just wanted him to work a little bit harder to prove it. One of the things she fondly remembered was that Moe always said when they were engaged that he was courting her and wanted to marry her so he could date her. Moe was a quiet man with few words, but he was a true romantic at heart. Jackie always referred to him as her “knight in shining armor” because he loved her unconditionally and they traveled to places that she said she may not have had the opportunity to see otherwise. Of all the places they lived, she especially loved Norfolk, VA and had hoped to live there again one day. After Moe retired from the Navy, they moved back to Vermont to raise their children. For the next 22 years, Moe worked for the St. Johnsbury Department of Corrections as a Chief Shift Supervisor.
Among life's many accolades bestowed to any individual, aside from being the mother of LSC and Norwich University graduates, the ones Jackie was most proud of were being a 20-year Navy wife and then the wife of a correctional officer. She was also a certified medical transcriptionist, typist, and beautician.
She loved the outdoors, and one could often find her feeding the chipmunks out of her hands or elbow deep in a flower bed, a garden, or a berry patch, which often resulted in delicious homemade goodies of some kind.
She loved to travel and did so when she could. She also enjoyed crocheting and crafting as her relaxation therapy, often resulting in beautiful handmade creations that she shared with others. She enjoyed antiquing in hopes of someday getting the next “Antiques Roadshow find,” as well as singing and dancing because anything related to music was important to her. She often reminisced of her favorite memories dancing at the Sock Hops, and had dreamed of being the next Connie Francis someday, but life took her in a different direction, and she said she wouldn’t have changed it for the world. She was an avid reader who started each day reading the Bible because she was also a diligent, devoted Christian who believed that each day should start with the Word of God. She averaged 4 books a week. She also enjoyed writing and never gave herself enough credit for the talent she possessed. Another enjoyment was playing Nancy Drew PC games in which she would often have her kids help her with the puzzles so she could “focus on cracking the case.” She was a HGTV enthusiast and because of her love for History (especially the Civil War Era), she often enjoyed historical period shows like Downton Abbey and Murdock Mysteries. Her favorite movies, aside from the Christmas classics because Christmas was her favorite time of year, were anything by Jane Austen. She loved Mr. Darcy's character, who reminded her of her Maurice. Jackie was a woman who loved many things but her first love was God and then her family.
Jackie is survived by her son, Maurice E. Degree, and his wife of 15yrs, Leah (Guarin), of Bentonville, AR; and her daughter, Danielle R. Degree-Ghirarda and her husband of 20yrs, Matthew, of Spencer, MA.
True to her private nature, and in keeping with her wishes, a private memorial service and graveside ceremony were held with close friends and family members present.
Jackie’s devoted faith in God was something she treasured and valued. She was a devoted Christian, and had a strong, independent spirit. She believed that with God, all things are possible, and she believed in miracles. She came into this world as she left it - fighting with the heart of a warrior until the very end.
“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”
Continually serving others is a form of expressing our faith in and to God. When we start to grow weary in our serving, we can be reenergized in our commitment by knowing that He sees us, and He will not forget.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at guibordfh.com