By Beth David, Editor
Frank Mathieu may have left his earth, but his presence was surely felt at the annual fall encampment that he loved so dearly.
The Fairhaven Village Militia (FVM) and the Fairhaven Office of Tourism sponsored the annual event that commemorates the attack at what is now named Fort Phoenix. It was totally destroyed in 1778, along with many houses right into the center of town.
A photo of Frank in his militia uniform, along with a display of his gear, was set up in the camp. The militia also gave a gun salute, and presented his long-time companion, Julie Moniz with the flag, military style. Family members shot off the fort’s five cannons at dusk, after the memorial.
The flag on the pole, however, would not cooperate, and refused to come down.
“Frank would be laughing,” said Fairhaven Tourism Director and FVM member Chris Richard, adding that he would say, “You guys…you got the flag stuck.”
“He was here at every single encampment we ever did,” said Mr. Richard.
He told the crowd that Mr. Mathieu was quite the historian. He loved talking about the history of the fort, and was especially good at recruiting new members.
Mr. Richard also got a bit of a chuckle, when he said the Mr. Mathieu used his historian credentials to discover and report that KFC and Honeydew donuts were actually historically accurate, and, therefore, allowed at the encampment.
The next morning, some donuts and coffee mysteriously found their way to the camp for the militia members, with a note signed, “Love, Frank.”
Julie Moniz, 82, said she had been with Frank for 16 years.
“It’s hard to come back here,” she said. “He loved this place. It was his life.”
She said that when he got sick, he felt bad that he could no longer participate in militia activities.
“It was a great 16 years with him,” said Ms. Moniz. “He made my old age.”
Julie’s daughter Carol Levalley wrote something about Frank, but then got shy and would not read it.
In those remarks, she wrote that her family and Frank’s family formed a special bond.
“The love we have for Frank and his family will last a lifetime,” wrote Ms. Levalley, adding that because of Frank she has had a chance to “embrace a lot of good people” in the militia and his family.
“I finally realized Frank might be gone, but I see him in everyone that has touched his life, the love of his family and true friends will keep him alive in all of us,” she wrote.
“He gave and gave and gave and gave, from day one,” said militia Commander Ellie Sylvaria. “He gave to everybody.”
Mr. Sylvaria said that Mr. Mathieu was buried in his militia uniform and that militia members put a small sack with items no militia member would go without, to travel to “the other side” with him.
“He did so much that nobody ever knew about,” said Mr. Sylvaria.
Mr. Mathieu died on September 16. In his obituary, people are asked to donate to the militia in lieu of flowers.
Click to download the entire 9/29/16 issue: 09-29-16-encampment