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By Fred Swegles
In this delicate climate of safe social distancing, how do you put together a big birthday party designed to involve all 165 elderly residents of a luxury four-story assisted-living abode?
The staff at San Clemente Villas met that challenge on April 21 to celebrate what would have been the 93rd birthday of Paul Brazeau, who designed and built San Clemente Villas in 2002. He operated it until his passing on May 7, 2019.
To set up an event like none other at San Clemente Villas, residents and staff united “as best they could,” reported Barbara Corrigan, activities and HR director, to sing in unison the San Clemente Villas founder’s favorite song, “O Danny Boy.”
“Residents stood outside their rooms to sing during this challenging time of ‘no congregating.’ The managers, wearing masks, gathered around the PA system microphone, and the song rang out over four floors,” Corrigan said, describing the scene.
“After that, it was open mic day for whoever had some special words to say about Paul. A Birthday in Heaven poem was read. The Lord’s Prayer was said. Original resident Jessie Strike wrote a touching tribute, and it was read over the PA.”
For lunch, residents were served Brazeau’s favorite meal, Cornish game hen, and apple pie, his favorite dessert, in their rooms.
Joining in for the celebration were Paul Brazeau’s son Dan and daughter Leslie.
Brazeau was remembered as an entrepreneur who worked his way up from electrician to builder of shopping centers, who invested in other properties, and whose ultimate dream was to build and operate a luxury assisted-living residence, San Clemente Villas.
“He was a highly respected and beloved father, husband and employer to many hundreds of employees,” Corrigan recalled.