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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Cleo Alphonse Pelletier

Cleo Alphonse Pelletier
Cleo Alphonse Pelletier

It is with deep sorrow that we mourn the passing of Cleo A. Pelletier of Ocala, FL, on Sunday, June 9th, 2024, at the age of 98 years.

His memory will be kept alive by his adoring wife of 78 years, Lorraine L. (Ford) Pelletier of Ocala, FL. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his two children, Beatrice Ferguson and husband, Scott of Port St. Lucie, FL; Richard Pelletier and wife, Debra of Trenton, FL; his three grandchildren, JoEllen King of Ocala, FL, Tracy Brandt of Chaska, MN, Laura Landry of Attleboro, MA, and seven great-grandchildren.

Cleo was predeceased by his parents, Alphonse J. Pelletier (US Army, WWI veteran) and Beatrice (Robidoux) Pelletier.

Born on November 19th, 1925, in Southbridge, Massachusetts, Cleo was raised in the “Eye of the Commonwealth,” a mill town that provided vital defense work for the US military. Cleo followed his father’s path of military service, joining the US Navy during World War II as a Radioman, First Class on the USS McNair DD-679. Post-war, Cleo and Lorraine met at a local town dance and wed after a short courtship. Cleo’s love of the water never left him, and eventually, he and Lorraine self-built a small lake house in Charlton, MA, a town he lived in for more than 40 years. He taught his children to swim, water ski, snow ski, and ice skate. But his true talent was in fixing things, especially automobiles.

Cleo’s love of automobiles, specifically race cars, started in his young teens. He started mastering his craft with automobiles prior to joining the Navy. Post WWII, he began building race cars that were entered in competitions at speedways throughout New England while owning his own business, CAP’s Garage, a gas station and auto repair shop. He eventually joined the Town of Southbridge as head mechanic where he and his son were dually awarded Massachusetts Municipal Employee of the Year in 1983. After retiring from the Town of Southbridge, he finished his career working as a mechanic on aerial lift equipment for his son’s business, DAP Fleet Services, Inc., a contractor for Verizon. Cleo retired from his career in his early 70s, relocating to Florida, where he and Lorraine have resided for more than 20 years.

Cleo’s passion was not only automobiles and NASCAR, but also snowmobiling. He reveled in the cold, snowy, adventure-filled New England weekends with his son and granddaughter, traversing the closest trail parks to the furthest reaches of the US northeast & Canadian borders. The bigger the mountain, the greater the challenge. He always managed to avert any catastrophe with unwavering calmness and strength of confidence when finding the path less traveled, whether it was an unanticipated snowmobile repair miles from the nearest town or accidentally crossing into the Canadian border without passports and permission.

The warmth, wisdom, and joy Cleo brought to every gathering will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. His cheerful, welcoming personality, coupled with his striking smile, permeated everywhere he went – drawing people to him. He genuinely loved to be around people, both hearing their stories as well as telling his own.

At Cleo’s core was his compassion and unwavering commitment to his family, the center of his world. You could find him exploring the country in his RV with his wife, visiting with his daughter, working around his son’s farm, vacationing with his grandchildren, driving tractors and riding waterslides with his great-grandchildren, or enjoying laughs at social gatherings with friends, food and extended family.

Cleo will be immensely missed by his family and so many whom he met along his journey through this life. His legacy will live on in our hearts and our memories. A memorial service will be held at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL at a future date.