Jean Audré Balsamo passed away peacefully surrounded by family, five dogs, and two kittens on July 11, 2021, nine days after celebrating her 86th birthday with a raucous family party. Born July 2,1935 to Gerald (d. 1942) and Gertrude (d.1985) Ratelle, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. During high school, her family moved to Torrington, CT where she graduated from Torrington High School in 1953. Audré was an animal lover and often brought home stray dogs, much to her mother’s chagrin. One such stray dog turned out to be Audré’s Prince Charming, August Balsamo, who had spotted Audré selling tickets at a movie theater and brought her a yellow rose to match her blouse. Smitten, Audré didn’t have the heart to tell him that her blouse was white, but the glass booth in which she sat was tinted yellow. Audré and Augie married in April 1955 and road tripped to Southern California for their honeymoon. They loved it so much, they never looked back! After staunchly insisting that she didn’t want children, Audré and Augie were tickled pink to have five daughters: Audeen, Amy, Alaine, Annette, and Alyssa. Ever the social butterfly, Audré was involved in her children’s school community, from choreographing dances, planning events, and making costumes, always fabulously outshining the other mothers (sorry not sorry!) As her girls got older, Audré went to work at a fitness center (though she herself never exercised), then later at a medical office, where she worked for 23 years, making many friends along the way. She loved traveling, but her favorite spot was the family beach house in Newport Beach, CA. She loved music, dancing, crafting, painting, writing (she won both a penmanship and poetry contest!) but most of all, her 13 grandchildren, who referred to her lovingly as Memère, French for “Grandmother.” Audré was very proud of her French heritage; she was not happy when her DNA test results showed no French ethnicity at all! Audré was known to scrape together a meal from whatever she had available in the fridge, but the family’s favorite was lasagne she made at Christmas. Which explains why her DNA test suggested she was actually Italian. (It is worth noting that the results are continuously updated and lo-and-behold, French ancestry did end up being included!) Audré is survived by her brother and sister-in-law, Jerry and Helen Ratelle; Daughters and sons-in-law; Audeen Balsamo, Amy and Guy Hugaert, Alaine Balsamo and Alec Gillis, Annette and Matthew Lilly, and Alyssa and Tim O’Hara. Grandchildren; Jessica (Lilly) and Paul Guzman, Camille Balsamo-Gillis and Reid Collums, Blair (Hugaert) and Jorge Ramos, Sofia Lilly, Blake and Nicole Hugaert, Devon (Balsamo-Gillis) and Gabriel Gault, Seamus O’Hara, Dominic O’Hara, Grace Balsamo-Gillis, Levi Lilly, Isabella Balsamo-Gillis, Sawyer O’Hara and Luke O’Hara. Great Grandchildren; Gianna, Carmen, Arthur & August. Many nieces, nephews and her little dog too, her beloved Liebchen, the final stray that Audré saved. Predeceased by her husband, Augie Balsamo (d.1997), her two sisters Suzanne Ratelle (d.1939) and Clarisse Cizeski (d.2019), and her first grandson, Denver August Lilly (d.1990). Having been a “high roller” at several casinos, it is fitting that she cashed in her chips on 7- 11- 21. There will be an Open House Celebration of Life on Sunday, Sept 19, 2021, from 1:00 pm- 5:00 pm at the home of Alyssa and Tim O’Hara: 1450 E. Concord Ave. Orange, CA 92867.
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