JACK CUVIER (AKA Jacko & Cactus Jack)
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Jack Cuvier of East Windsor, CT passed away peacefully on December 8, 2020 at the age of 78. We like to think he did it on purpose to avoid making a decision on what nursing home he’d need to go to amid these COVID times. His larger-than-life persona despite his smaller stature, his trademark stubbornness, his incredible sense of dry humor and his frequent comment “You don’t get to look like this overnight” will never be forgotten.
Jack was born in Evreau, France in 1942. As a child, his family immigrated to the United States in search of improved medical technology to repair his hip that was crushed in an unfortunate accident. At the time, his French doctors deemed he’d never walk again. Having complete recovery here in the states, Jack led a pretty active life with his parents who had their own business in the French culinary field. The family resided in many places along the eastern seaboard namely New York City, NY, Biscayne Bay, FL, Litchfield, CT and ultimately landed in Hartford, CT. He had recovered so well from his childhood injury that he competed in Men’s gymnastics, became an avid skindiver/spear as well as rod fisherman, a hunter and basically an overall outdoorsman. Sometime in 1962, he was introduced to Dale, the woman he’d later be married to for 54 years. They sparked a friendship and she was on his mind ever since. He graduated in 1962 from Hartford High and kept in touch with a couple of his high school friends (Lenny and Bob) for quite some time after graduation.
He immediately enlisted in the Navy where he served as a radioman on a couple ships (one that’s primary mission was refueling other ships along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts and another that was referred to as the "floating White House" that often hosted visiting national and international dignitaries including US Presidents. While in the Navy, Jack and Dale remained “pen pals”. He took much pride in his time served in the Navy. He made some lifelong friends (Jim) and taught himself how to play guitar.
Upon returning home from the Navy, he worked at Bradley International Airport as a teletype operator in the mid to late 1960’s. It was around this time he reconnected with his former “pen pal”, Dale. Not long after that, they began dating. He then pursued a position at the US Postal Service as a letter carrier, got married, started a family and moved from Hartford to East Windsor.
His children will cherish the fond memories of him playing his guitar while Dale and the kids sang along to songs like “Joy to the World” and “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog”. The kids grew up camping, learning to fish (and spearfish), training in gun use and safety and all about his love of the outdoors. Along with that, they will also remember how he taught them to clean fish, prepare the “yield of his hunts” and the many tips of the trade. Jack also loved being out on his boat, teaching his kids to skindive/spearfish as well as how to tend to lobster pots or when on camping trips, teaching them to clam and crab.
Jack made some really great friends through the years…those around the neighborhood (the Oborski’s, the Hampton’s and the Pepka’s) was well as those he worked with in his 27 years at the Post Office (Jerry, JJ, Tom and Al and so many others who also shared his outdoorsman passion). There were literally hundreds of fishing and hunting trips through the years yielding either dinners or just a sunburn. Jack was incredibly skillful at catching striped bass as his home is decorated with many photos of him with the “giant” of the day. His passion for fishing has been “inherited” by his grandchildren and great grandchildren who will carry out and pass on his lessons.
He had an interesting mastery of mechanical repair. Amongst the vehicles he’d owned, many of them were repaired by “his truly” using “duct tape, elastic bands and shoe laces” just to keep them going for as long as possible. From the 1962 Beetle to the more recent Pathfinder are memories of him often saying to passengers “Keep your feet off the floor, they might go through the floorboards”.
Jack was also a remarkable gardener, an excellent cook (somewhat expected since his family was in the culinary business and came from France) and quite the bowler. His garden often yielded enough tomatoes to feed a small country and large enough squash to play baseball with. He and Dale enjoyed bowling with their countless great friends they’d met in their 42 or so years on their bowling leagues and at the lanes. Most particularly are their closest friends and teammates for many years, Gary and Nancy.
What he lacked in stature, he compensated with an over-abundance of charisma, charm and feistiness. Jack was world-renowned for not holding back his opinion, and had a knack for telling it like it is. He always told you the truth, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. It is also a fact that if he didn’t pick on you, he didn’t like you – that was just his way of letting you know he liked you. Jack was also known for his timeless and hilarious quick wit which included responses like "Who let you in?" and “I thought I told you never to come back?” when you arrived for a visit and “Thanks for the warning.” when you left. These were his terms of endearment that brought smiles to anyone he cared for.
Jack took fashion advice from no one. With his trademark jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, sneakers and strategically coiffed hair-do, his comfort far outweighed any interest in the latest fashion trends.
He despised chicken, men wearing pants on or below their backside, his lawn overdue for a mow, know-it-alls, any spicy food and anything to do with technology - but God forbid he not have his flat screen TV to watch his Red Sox play!
He treasured going out to dinner with Dale and their friends as well as enjoying time with all the great friends he’d made along his journey. As a Frenchman, he certainly valued good food and quality meals & good times with great friends. His favorites included Sam & La Notte’s staff, Tony, Izzy & Sofia’s staff & and those at The Nutmeg to name a few. He also loved fresh seafood, the New York Giants football team, Boston Red Sox, Emeril’s BAM Burger seasoning, Drambuie, taking afternoon naps on the couch, catching a cigarette puff on the back porch and enjoying the many shared moments with his loyal, sweetheart dog, Bella. Most of all, Jack loved Dale. Through the years of ups and downs as one might imagine in 54 years of marriage, there was never a question of his love for her.
Jack was a silent caretaker of all the neighborhood chipmunks and passing birds. There might not be much food in the fridge, but “heavens to betsy” that the he run out of birdseed or there be any issues with “feeding fortress” he built in the backyard.
In the last few years, Jack began to have impactful health issues which were a turning point in the decline of his health. His devout feistiness and stubbornness had served him well throughout his life. And even in his waning months, he was a model of strong will and sheer determination right up until the end of his journey here on earth. He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by his family, his many friends and neighbors and pretty much anyone who had the opportunity to enjoy him.
Jack is predeceased by his son Jack Cuvier, Jr., his grand-daughter Courtney Courchesne and his parents August and Lucienne Cuvier.
He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 54 years, Dale (Savanella) Cuvier; his daughters Dawn Cuvier and her husband Steve Sorensen of Somers, Michele Cuvier of East Windsor; his brothers-in-law Norman Savanella and Al Jacob of Manchester; his remaining 4 grandchildren Krystal Williams and her husband Jeremy Williams of East Windsor, Ricky Wilson and his fiancé Shay Paradis of Enfield, Angie Courchesne of Willington and Cody Arnone of Somers; his 5 great-grandchildren Brianna Williams, Hunter, Dillon and Ethan Wilson and Jayce Soto; and last, but most certainly not least, his beloved and very spoiled Schipperke furbaby, Bella.
At the request of the family in this COVID times, there will not be a viewing service. A cemetery service with military honors will be scheduled in the spring at Mount St. Benedicts Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the charity of your choice. Condolences may be left in the Bassinger & Dowd online guestbook at www.pietrasfuneralhome.com