Doris Lucille (Destremps) Gaston was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on July 29, 1934 and died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease on November 13, 2023. She was 89 years old. Loved ones who passed before her include her husband, Gary Glenn Gaston, her parents, Normand and Adeline (St Pierre) Destremps, and brothers Normand Destremps and Henri Destremps and sister Lorette (Destremps) Coe. She is survived by her children Cheri (Robert) Remington, Valerie Gaston, Linda (Dave) Hill, Steven (Barbara) Gaston, Catherine (Greg) Martinelli; grandchildren Sonny (Wendy) Littlejohn, Gary Littlejohn, Ravi Gaston, Phoenix Gaston, Jennifer (Justin) Oliver, Nathan Hill, Jessica (Joshua) Wales, Amy (Caleb) Lee, Laura Martinelli, Kyle (Bailee) Martinelli; great-grandchildren Liam, Rebecca, Zoey, Lillian, Steven, Macklin and Maeve; sisters and sister-in-law, Jacqueline Destremps, Eva Smith, Cecile (Jim) Martin, Denise (Peter) Wenners.
The name Doris means “gift from the sea” and it fits her. She had a lifelong love of water. Mount Hope Bay was just outside the back door of her childhood home. She knew the tides and sea creatures. She dug for clams and quahogs and loved family gatherings and clam boils. She was the middle child with three older and three younger siblings and grandparents, aunts and uncles within walking distance.
Doris left school at sixteen to contribute to the household income by working in textile mills where her mother Adeline had worked as a spinner before she married. It was during this time that Doris developed a love of art. She signed up for a mail order course in drawing, portraits and oil painting and taught herself. Her father Normand, a carpenter, found discarded sail canvas and stretched it over scrap wood to make canvases for her to paint on. From these humble beginnings she pursued what would be a lifelong love of art creation.
She felt the call to dedicate her life to her faith, but her focus expanded to other considerations when she met a certain handsome sailor named Gary Gaston while touring a naval ship with a friend. They hit it off and went out a time or two but decided to go their separate ways… that is, until a chance meeting while passing on the street one day. Then it was wedding bells and heading south to Key West where Gary was stationed. They welcomed their first daughter there, whose name was inspired by a boat, the Cheryle Anne.
The family moved to Texas while Gary went to school, and they welcomed Valerie, Linda and Steven. Their fifth and final child, Catherine, came along when they settled into the St Louis area where Gary worked for McDonnell-Douglas (later Boeing.) In all this time, Doris was a rock, maintaining a home, the family budget, meals made from scratch and all the shenanigans five kids could dish out. She taught prayers and sewed clothes, gave baths and wiped noses. Later, she went back to school earning a GED and an associate degree in fine arts. She worked for many years contributing to the higher education of her children.
Doris lived a faith-filled life. She was a devout Catholic who went to church most days and spent hours in prayer. She shared her faith, was part of prayer groups, and performed acts of charity. She made casseroles and sandwiches for St Patrick Center and volunteered at the Crisis Nursery. She never hesitated to help anyone who needed her help.
In all these years, she maintained a comfortable and beautiful home where she welcomed family and friends for holidays and special occasions. There was always a freshly made bed and food tailored to the tastes of her guests. Over the years as the family grew, these occasions expanded to include upwards of thirty people, but everything was beautiful from the china place settings to the handmade table decorations. Her meals were delicious and perfectly timed, and through it all she smiled and enjoyed the gathering. Each person and each occasion was an opportunity for joy.
Doris and Gary had a condo at Panama City Beach where they went to get away a couple of times each year. They spent happy hours exploring the area and walking along the beach. More recently, they took excursions to Pere Marquette Park, enjoying the scenic drive and stopping for a meal at the lodge or at the Finn Inn where they could look at the colorful aquariums.
Doris had a great sense of humor and an easy laugh. It was a quality that she maintained to the end. Just the day before she left us, one of the last things she did was give a laugh at something that surprised her. Even though her condition took away her memories, she enjoyed visitors, watched TV, liked being read to, and loved her caregivers.
In lieu of flowers donations to:
Making Room Housing Campaign https://www.jacares.org/making-room-housing-campaign/
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
St. Peter Cemetery, St Charles, MO