World War II hero recognized at Saranac Lake services

SARANAC LAKE – A World War II hero and medical pioneer was enshrined in the village’s Walk of Fame during Memorial Day services here Monday morning.

A large crowd also showed up for the village’s annual Memorial Day parade and observance.

Walk of Fame

Family members of the late Dr. Rene Joyeuse were on hand for the Walk of Fame ceremony, held under sunny skies outside the Veterans Memorial Association on Broadway. A bronze plaque bearing Joyeuse’s name, attached to the front of the building, was unveiled during the ceremony. Local veterans’ organizations raised $750 to buy the plaque.

“It’s a fitting thing to have it on the veterans hall, so to speak,” said Joyeuse’s son Marc. “For us, it’s just phenomenal the way the whole town has gotten behind this. The community has been so helpful to our family. It’s just amazing.”

During World War II, the Swiss-born Rene Veuve (who changed his name after the war to his military code name Joyeuse, French for “happy”), worked with the French resistance for the United States Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. He parachuted behind German lines before D-Day with orders to gather crucial intelligence about German military installations, supply depots and troop movements so the allies could bombard them before the invasion.

Joyeuse later served with the French military in Southeast Asia, studied medicine in Paris and moved to the U.S. with his wife, becoming a U.S. citizen. He became a noted surgeon, helped develop modern trauma treatment and helped develop the first biological heart valve replacement. He was 92 when he died last June in Saranac Lake, where he spent the last 25 years of his life.

He had lived here quietly, and his accomplishments were mostly unknown here until he died.

Joyeuse’s family, with the help of Mayor Clyde Rabideau and U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, successfully lobbied the Department of the Army to have his remains buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington. He was laid to rest there March 29.

Marc Joyeuse said his father would be humbled and honored by all the recognition he’s received the last few months, including Monday’s ceremony.

“The veterans organizations of Saranac Lake went all out to honor one of their own,” he said. “Many people helped to make this happen, and our family is indebted to all of them.”

Parade, service

After several days of cold and rainy weather, Monday’s sunshine also brought out an enthusiastic, flag-waving crowd of children and adults for the parade down Broadway and Main Street. The Saranac Lake High School Marching Band led the procession, followed by veterans riding in antique and classic cars and a large contingent of Saranac Lake Youth Baseball Association kids and coaches.

The Saranac Lake Elks Lodge was also represented and was followed by Rabideau, state Sen. Betty Little and Rene Joyeuse’s son Remi, who walked in stride down the parade route. Members of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department, in their dress uniforms, and local motorcycle riders, brought up the rear.

The Memorial Day observance in Riverside Park that followed the parade featured a keynote speech from Little.

“Memorial Day is a time for all of us to pause and honor those that gave the ultimate gift, their life, in service of this nation,” Little said. “It’s a day to impress upon each successive generation, the significance of the lives that were sacrificed and to show them that we will never forget. It is our hope that they will never forget.”

Little also recognized local veteran Chet Fobare, who wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, with an American Legion certificate for 50 years of service to the organization’s Post 447 in Saranac Lake.