Joseph L.W. Gagnon, known to friends as "Bill" passed away Tuesday, December 12, 2017 with his family by his side. He was a lifelong resident of Lawrence and attended the former Ecole St. Joseph of Ste Anne's Parish and was a graduate of Lawrence High School, class of 1943.
Upon graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was sent to Newport, RI for basic training. He continued his training at Jacksonville, FL in aviation radio, radar and gunnery. After being assigned to Air Glory Six, he then reported to Deland, FL for operational training in SBD aircraft. He was sent to San Diego, CA and on to Alemeda to Bombing Six. He soon went to Pearl Harbor where he started flying in a navy dive-bomber, SB2C Helldiver. He was assigned to the USS Hancock, a navy carrier. He made his first raid on Kyushu, Japan. His ship was hit by a Kamikaze suicide plane resulting in twenty-nine bodies found but two hundred missing. He was awarded the Air Medal and Gold Stars for a second, third and fourth air medal. Late in life he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In March, 1946 he was discharged from the US Navy and in 1948 he became a member of the Lawrence Fire Department, retiring after thirty-six years of service.
Mr. Gagnon is survived by his wife, Lorraine (Boutin) Gagnon; son, John and his wife Nicola of Little Compton, RI; daughter, Laurie McCadden and her husband Thomas of Arlington. He was the cherished grandfather of Hallie and Timothy McCadden and Benjamin and Luke Gagnon.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend visiting hours on Thursday, December 14, 2017 from 5:00-8:00 PM at Cataudella Funeral Home, 126 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen. His funeral mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, December 15, 2017 at St. Patrick's Church, 118 South Broadway, Lawrence. Burial will follow at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Andover. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Merrimack Valley Hospice, c/o High Pointe House, 360 North Ave., Haverhill, MA 01830. For directions or to send condolences, please visit www.cataudellafh.com.
Published on December 12, 2017