Living in Connecticut in the 1960s with her first husband, Pat Cloutier worked several years as a dental assistant. Then she got pregnant. It cost her her job, the Wiscasset resident of five years recalled.
It was not the only time in her early work life she wasn't treated the same as a man, Cloutier, 72, said. When she worked for a printing company in Connecticut, binding magazine pages “like all the other women were doing,” she told a foreman she would like to further herself with an apprenticeship. He laughed at her, she said.
“I kind of learned to be very gruff and fight back.”
She got the apprenticeship.
Cloutier worked her way through the company’s departments and into sales and customer service. Since moving from Connecticut to Warren in 2001, she has worked in adult education at Medomak Valley and Wiscasset, and been an administrative assistant at Morris Farm and Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce. She is still with the Chamber and now does that part-time job at the same desk she uses for her new part-time one with Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission on Route 1. She is also embarking on a third one, for Harbor Theater in Boothbay Harbor, helping with publicity, she said.
The grandmother of three and great grandmother to be said all these past and current jobs center on two of her loves: customer service, and being organized.
“I do a lot of spreadsheets.”
As for customer service, Cloutier said, “I’ve always loved people.”
She also loves libraries and worked at one in Warren, including event planning, a skill she taps in her current work. And she loves learning, she said. “I continue to learn with every job I go into.”
The Chamber and LCRPC work very well together, from being under the same roof, to partnering on Friends of Wiscasset Village, broadband and other projects, Cloutier said. "This relationship with Lincoln County is great. (LCRPC and WACC) and their work all sets out to support the businesses and help drive the economic engine in the community."
Working for both is working out very well, and makes sense, she said. She expressed thanks for the support County Administrator Carrie Kipfer and LCRPC's Mary Ellen Barnes have shown the Chamber.
She's also excited about the Chamber's involvement in Midcoast Council of Chambers (MC3). She said it runs from Brunswick to Searsport. "That gives us an opportunity to help bring Wiscasset a little bit more out there."
Second husband Russell Cloutier volunteers on WACC's membership committee. He stopped by to ask her about some materials for that committee work.
Asked for some insight into the woman he wed in 1991, Russell, who also volunteers in the cafeteria at Miles Hospital in Damariscotta, called her "the super lady." She can get anything done and find anything, he said. "She's the jack of all trades."
The two met when both were divorced and serving as emergency medical technicians in Connecticut. When the couple looked to move, they focused on staying in New England and Cloutier said she had a fondness for the coast of Maine, from many visits. "And Vermont didn't have an ocean," she said.
After the move to Warren, Cloutier, a smoker since she was 19, got diagnosed with throat cancer. "I stopped (smoking) that day." Inside Maine General Hospital in Waterville as she was about to start radiation treatment, Sept. 11, 2001, the 911 terror attacks came on the TV screen.
The radiation treatment and a tumor's removal worked. But Cloutier said the area tightened and, to this day, she cannot do one thing she loves: singing. She was once part of the New Haven (Connecticut) Chorale.
Her Wiscasset adult education job brought them here from Warren. She said the job went away when Wiscasset changed how it provides adult ed. But the Cloutiers stayed.
"We do have a wonderful community, and it has so many people willing to give of themselves, and their time," she said.
Cloutier’s Ontario aunt, Jean Everingham, has served as a fine example of giving back to the community, Cloutier said. At 101, Everingham, who served in World War II, continues to give back, and still lives on her own, Cloutier added.
In the years ahead, Cloutier expects to stay in her longtime line of work and, like her aunt, keep giving back. She and Russell plan to volunteer at this weekend's Winterfest at Wiscasset Community Center.
"I think all of us have a reason to be here (in life), and I think it's up to us to find out what it is, and always keep working at it," she said. "I think it keeps you going, keeps you young and keeps you immersed in something, and giving back. And I think that's very important."