Pauline D’Aoust was born Pia Rusciolelli in Bellaire, Ohio, a coal mining town on the banks of the Ohio River, in August 1924. She spoke only Italian until starting grade school, but quickly caught up and graduated from Powhatan Point High School in 1942 and about a year later moved with her family to Detroit where her brother had found work. During the war, she worked as a secretary in the Packard Motors plant which was making aircraft parts. After the war, she was an operator at the Bell Telephone in downtown Detroit. She loved riding the streetcars to work and shopping at the big department stores after work.
Pauline met John D’Aoust at the Vanity Ballroom on Jefferson and thought he was a good dancer, but wasn’t sure he was tall enough for her. They married in 1948, moved to a house on Maddelein in the northeast corner of Detroit in January 1950. She and John were in love and inseparable for sixty years. In that house, they raised four children Ron, Don, Yvonne and Yvette.
After all the children were in school, Pauline worked first as the office manager for an optometrist and then for a commercial printing firm. She was very involved in her church, St. Jude Parish, where she was a member for over 68 years. She was in the Rosary Altar Society since the mid-1950s—these ladies remain among her best friends—Barb, Loretta, Pat, Wanda, Dorothy and Nancy. She was in charge of Fellowship Sunday donuts and coffee for well over twenty years. In retirement, she was part of the daily mass crew at St. Jude’s even after moving out of the neighborhood in 2010. She was a whiz at Wheel of Fortune and word search puzzles and enjoyed Jeopardy and crossword puzzles as long as the questions weren’t too hard.
But mostly, she loved her husband and her family and they loved her. She was the loving caretaker of her husband in his last several years. In Pauline’s house, there was always someone there to visit and for them something in the fridge, a cup of tea, and maybe cookies or Milky Way Dark chocolates to be found. Pauline loved her children and their spouses unquestionably, Ron (Mary Barrett), Don (Jenny), Yvette (John Xuereb), the late Yvonne (Mike Foydel), but she may have loved her grand and great-grandchildren even more. Her face lit up at the sight of any of them. The grandchildren Aaron (Jenn), Jonathan (Lori), Alyssum (Karlye), Tracy (JD), Dave (Karla), Kae, Jon and Francesca always knew their grandmother loved them. Pictures of the great-grandchildren—Lauryn, Ciara, Tyler, Luc, Kyle, Jonathan, Emma, Sebastian, Bella, Lunastella, Violet, Kaiah, Ilo, and Micah—crowded the end tables and refrigerator. Pauline sent birthday cards with a dollar bill to her sister Emily’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren until they graduated from high school.
Pauline was always full of life. She was a cancer survivor and had made a miraculous recovery from a complicated heart surgery in October 2016. She enjoyed seeing some of her “California crew” over Thanksgiving 2017 going to the Henry Ford museums, to Frankenmuth and to a Mexican restaurant—new experiences at 93 years young. Unfortunately, her heart problem worsened over Christmas and she never really recovered from a week-long hospitalization in early January.
Pauline told us she was ready to go, but that she didn’t want to go alone. We’d ask “Well, who do you want to take with you?” She made us promise that she wouldn’t be shown in a casket and that we’d have her cremated with her ashes placed with John’s at the Great Lakes National Cemetery.
In the end, Ron and Yvette were there to hold her hands as the EMTs took her to St. John’s Hospital on February 20th when her loving heart finally gave out. Pauline loved and was loved and she will be missed. We are sure that her attitudes, values, hopes and dreams are a part of all of us.
Visitation will be the Bagnasco-Calcaterra Funeral Home, 25800 Harper, St Clair Shores, on Friday, March 9th from 4 to 9 p.m. A rosary service will be held at 7 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Jude Church. 15889 E. Seven Mile, Detroit, on Saturday, March 10th with visitation beginning at 9:30 and services at 10 a.m.. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Pauline’s name be made to the St. Jude Parish Food Pantry or to a charity of your choice.