Obituaries

Cullen Elisha Bouvier, 41, Bristol native

CULLEN ELISHA BOUVIER

BOSTON, Mass. — On Wednesday, April 10, 2024, heralded by the voices of his parents and siblings with many of the songs he loved most, and embraced in as much warmth and love as his parents, partner, siblings, and a few close friends could muster, Cullen Elisha Bouvier, 41, passed away at Massachusetts General Hospital from complications due to pneumonia following a year long illness.

Cullen was born on Aug. 23, 1982, in Middlebury Vt., the third and beloved child of James (“Buzz”) and Wanda Bouvier, and grew up in the hills of Bristol, attending Bristol Elementary School and graduating from Mt. Abraham Union High School.

Cullen spent his childhood playing along the banks of the New Haven River, swimming in the beautiful waters of Lake Champlain, and spending countless hours roaming the streets of his beloved Bristol with his siblings, friends and cousins.

Undoubtedly, Cullen would say that some of his fondest memories were spent in the woods located off Briggs Hill, alongside his “second parents,” Pam (his Godmother) and Brian Ladeau, gathering sap and producing maple syrup.

Cullen was both highly intelligent and extremely obstinate. At a mere 16 years of age, Cullen decided he wanted to pursue his pilot’s license. Despite his young age, with sheer grit and conviction, he successfully obtained his license. Cullen found the view from the air exhilarating and after high school intended on pursuing aviation school to become a commercial airline pilot. His decision to pursue this undertaking was made over the objection of his parents, who thought that Cullen’s colorblindness would most definitely (and understandably) be a deterrent to the endeavor.

Always full of bravado, Cullen would not be deterred by his inability to differentiate between colors. Cullen spent hours preparing for the exam by memorizing light sequencing patterns in an effort to reach his goal — colorblindness be damned. Unfortunately, when taking his commercial pilot’s test examination, Cullen soon realized that memorizing the light sequences would not work — those pesky test examiners intentionally varied the light patterns, thus foiling his plans. We still laugh thinking about him recounting the story of his test for aviation school, “that light is red … or maybe green … or white … I think.”

After realizing that a career as a commercial airline pilot would not be in his future, Cullen focused his attention on his second love — music.

Cullen was a skilled clarinetist and attended numerous All-District, All-State and All-New England Music Festivals. Much to his great grandmother’s delight, he loved sharing his gift by playing in the Town Band for the Wednesday Bristol Band Concerts throughout his high school career. He was also a gifted self-taught pianist and could play any song he heard by ear, and composed many original pieces. While his clarinet and piano skills were impressive, for anyone who had the supreme fortune of listening to Cullen sing, you know — his voice came from a higher power. It could make both angels and those of us lucky enough to hear it, weep. Cullen’s love of music was fostered by two of his favorite music educators, Bill Bowers, and Megan LaRose (wife of Cullen’s cousin, Kevin).

After graduating from Mt. Abraham Union High School with honors and as a member of the National Honor Society, Cullen attended the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music Performance.

Following graduation, Cullen channeled his education and passion for the arts into his career, working in Boston for organizations focused on the arts and endowment for musicians. Most recently, Cullen worked for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and From the Top, a non-profit organization focused on providing opportunities for young musicians.

Cullen resided in Boston since graduating from college and, for the past eleven years, had the supreme fortune of spending his days with the love of his life, Justin Holliday, and their sweet fur baby, Myrtle. Justin and Cullen loved to travel and took numerous trips visiting family and friends in New Orleans, NYC, Georgia, Arizona, California, and Washington D.C. They also enjoyed regular visits with Justin’s family in Boston and NYC, and trips to Vermont to visit Cullen’s family and friends, where they could both enjoy the slower pace that “country living” has to offer. Cullen’s family will forever be grateful that Cullen found Justin, an angel on this earth whose support of Cullen during his long illness has been unyielding. We truly could ask for no one better. Cullen’s family is thankful that, though Cullen is no longer with us here, Justin (and his sister Jayme) will forever be a part of our family and another connection to Cullen.

While Cullen resided in Boston for the past twenty-plus years and loved “the Bean” and the rich culture, diversity, and opportunities it provided, Vermont and the Green Mountains he loved so, were always “home.”

Cullen will be remembered for his infectious smile, captivating blue eyes, profound sense of humor, and supreme wit. Cullen was steadfast in his convictions. He could be pointed. Sharp. He did not hesitate to zealously champion the causes he believed most fervently in. He celebrated principles of equality, diversity, and love. He frequently voiced his disdain and intolerance for the perpetuation of injustice or oppression of any kind.

While Cullen could be strident and rigid, the only thing more unwavering than his firm opinions was the love and loyalty he had for his family and friends. He loved unabashedly and without restraint.

Cullen is survived by an army of people who love him and whose hearts are broken at his passing, including his adoring parents, Buzz and Wanda Bouvier; his partner, Justin Holliday; his siblings, Sarah Haselton (Tom), Justin Bouvier (Brian Farnum), and Matthew Bouvier. He is also survived by “his babies,” his cherished niece and nephew, Lottie (AKA: “Chuckie”…thanks Uncle Cullen for that nickname) and Emmitt Haselton, and maternal grandparents Patricia and Robert Turner.

Cullen leaves his paternal aunts and uncles and their children and children-in-law, Connie and Ron LaRose (Kevin and wife Megan, and Brett and wife Erin), Shelly and Rod Cousino (Chris and wife Tracy, Greg and wife Koran, and Kate and husband Darrin), Mark and Debbie Bouvier (Jaime, Nate and wife Erica, and Andy and partner Erika), Laura Bouvier (Jen and husband Devin, and Tim and wife Kristine), Colleen and Reg Wedge (his Godfather) (Rebecca and partner Jeffrey, Casey and partner Kara, and Eric and wife Taylor), Pete and Tina (Kari and husband Eric, and Ryan and wife Sarah), and Joel and Starr (Tasha and Megan).

Cullen leaves behind his maternal aunt and uncle, Tracie and Paul Cassarino, and their children Nicholas (wife Erin Boyd, Cullen’s confidante and consiglieri who shared daily phone calls with Cullen filled with friendship and sisterhood), and Joshua (wife Crystal), as well as maternal Uncle Franklin (“Butch”) Hier. He also leaves close friends Katy Unger (his friend of forever), Sabine Keljik, and Kara O’Keefe, his partner’s sister, Jayme Holliday, other members of the Holliday family, as well as a whole community of coworkers, friends, and second cousins who love and adore him.

Cullen was predeceased by paternal grandparents, Jim and Alice Bouvier, maternal grandparents, Franklin Hier and Marie Hier, and paternal uncles Eric and Jeffrey (“Hub”) Bouvier. He was also predeceased by his beloved fur baby, Myrtle Aretha, as well as his great-grandmother Lottie (“GL”) Follansbee, who helped raise and shape Cullen into the man he was, alongside his parents. We take comfort in knowing that Cullen has been reunited with his beloved GL, Myrt, and all those who have gone before him.

Cullen’s family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Mass General who worked valiantly to restore Cullen to full health and, despite all odds, were able to give us another year with him and the ability to spend time in song, love and hope as we walked him home. The family would especially like to thank Dr. Nahel Elias, who fervently advocated for Cullen and undertook heroic efforts to save Cullen’s life.

Cullen’s “Ma Tante”, Shel, recently reminded us that it has been said that the depth of our grief is comparable to the love for the loved one lost. Our grief is currently suffocating, the kind that steals your breath away and seems insurmountable because… Cul…you were so very loved. By so many. Cully, we will miss you forever and love you for always. You can now fly above the clouds as often as you’d like. Rest easy, our beautiful boy. Until we meet again.

A celebration of Cullen’s life will be held at the Old Lantern in Charlotte, Vt., on Saturday, July 13, at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation, in Cullen’s name, to one of the following organizations or causes: From the Top, c/o Gretchen Nielsen (PO Box 845429, Boston, MA 02284-5429; Angell Animal Medical Center Memorial 350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, Mass 02130; or a donation in Cullen’s name, c/o Sarah Haselton (64 Bittersweet Ridge, Bristol, VT 05443), as the family intends on establishing a memorial fund in Cullen’s name to fund a scholarship for a local Mt. Abraham student intending on pursuing a career or education in music or the arts.

Arrangements by the Barile Family Funeral Home, 482 Main St. (RT 28) Stoneham, Mass. To send a memorial condolence, go to www.barilefuneral.com or www.facebook.com/BarileFamilyFuneralHome ◊

 

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