Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Tribute to My Grandmother: Violet Mae (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard AKA Mimi

I've decided to write about my maternal grandmother, Violet, or Mimi, as I called her, who recently died on December 15, 2008. This pic is one she and I took around 2003 for the membership directory of Welsh Memorial United Methodist Church in Vinton, Calcasieu, Louisiana.

Violet Mae Currie was born on 24 Oct 1930 in Flynn Township, Sanilac County, Michigan. Her parents were Archibald "Archie" Currie (1889-1963) and Jennie "Jean" Grace Christina (Plaine) Currie (1903-1937). [1] She was named after her mother's older sister, Voylet Elmyra Plaine.

Violet had two older siblings, a brother, Howard Archibald Currie, born in 1925, and a sister,
Helen Floretta Currie, born in 1927 [2,3]. Both died when they were very young. I seem to recall my grandmother saying that one of them died shortly after she was born in 1930, but I can't remember which one. Nonetheless, neither of them are listed in the 1930 U.S. Census with Jennie and Archie, so it is likely both died before 1930 [4]. I need to add the search for their death records to my to-do list.

Violet's mother, Jennie, died of a heart attack
when Violet was only 7 years old on Christmas Eve in 1937 [5].

Archie never remarried, and Violet grew up as an only child on the family farm outside Marlette, Michigan. Below is a picture of Violet with her friend, Margaret Mahaffy, about 1935, outside the family home. Violet is the blonde on the left.

Violet graduated from Marlette Township High School in 1948 [6].

On 9 Sep 1949, Violet married John Peter Pemberton, son of John "Jack" Vital Pemberton and Mabel Ellen Crysler. [7,8] They were married at the First Methodist Church in Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michgan. [8] Violet met John when he was home on leave from the military.

John and Violet had 8 children between the years of 1950 to 1960. [9]

1) John Michael Pemberton
b. 1950
2) Deborah Darlene Pemberton b. 1952
3) George Albert Pemberton b. 1954
4) Stephen Andrew Pemberton b. 1955
5) Brian James Pemberton b. 1957

6) Mark Anthony Pemberton b. 1959

7) Pamela Sue Pemberton b. 1959
8) Gloria ViAnn Pemberton b. 1960

The family lived at 1828 Stone Street in Port Huron from 1956 to about 1973. [10] When they first married in 1949, John worked on the assembly line at Chrysler [7]. He then began work as a fireman for the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1950 and was promoted to engineer in 1955. [11] He remained with the railroad as an engineer until his early death from lung cancer in 1970. [12] Violet worked at the Prestolite plant, from which she retired in the early 1970s. [13] It was at the Prestolite plant that Violet met the true love of her life and second husband, Clifford Robert Drouillard, or "Pippi," as some of us grandchildren call him. [13] They married in Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois on 22 May 1972. [14]

Clifford had four children from a prior marriage: Veronica Marlen Drouillard (b. 1956), Gloria Joy Drouillard (b. 1957), Clifford Carl Drouillard (b. 1960), and Rose Marie Drouillard (b. 1964). It was kind of like the Brady Bunch, except with a lot more children...LOL!

This is my favorite picture of Mimi and Pippi. It was taken on 15 Oct 1977 at my parents' wedding at the First Church of the Nazarene in Port Huron. About four years later, about 1981 or so, my grandparents moved from Port Huron down to Vinton, Calcasieu, Louisiana, where my parents had since moved.

This picture was taken about 2007 or early 2008 in the front yard of Mimi and Pippi's house in Vinton, Calcasieu, Louisiana. On the left is my mother, Pamela Sue (Pemberton) Trahan. One of Mimi's favorite things was being a crossing guard. She worked as a school crossing guard near Vinton Elementary School from about 1993 until she died in 2008. [15] All the kids loved her.

Overall, Mimi was a kind, loving, and compassionate person. She was always willing to listen to me. I can remember talking to her about boys and friends and all the other problems teenagers have when I was younger. She was always so excited about my interest in genealogy and family history because she did not know a lot of her extended family. After her mom died, she gradually saw less and less of her maternal aunts and uncles, as they all lived in Canada, and her father was not very close to his siblings. She never even knew her paternal grandparents because they died before she was born, and her maternal grandparents died when she was very young. When I asked her once why she had so many children, she said it was because it was very lonely growing up on a farm as an only child, so she had always wanted to have a large family. She got what she wished for because she always had children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren visiting. She never went a day without family visitors.

Birthdays were also very important to her because she said that she and her dad did not really celebrate her birthday very much when she was a child. When my fiance and I were picking a date for our fall wedding, she suggested her birthday, as it happens to fall on a Saturday in 2009. Some of my family members have asked if we are sure we still want to get married then, but we know that it would be very important to her for us to get married that day. In one of the last conversations I had with her around October 2008, she mentioned how excited she was that we were getting married on her birthday. So, Mimi, we will be celebrating your birthday with a huge celebration this year! We love you!

Violet Mae Currie, senior picture, abt 1948


[1] Sanilac County, Michigan, birth certificate no. 13-2590 (1930), Violet Mae Currie; County Clerk, Sandusky; supplied by Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, Vinton, Louisiana.

[2] Michigan Department of Health, birth registration no. 74-3476 (1925), Howard Archibald Currie; Vital Records Office, Lansing; privately held by author. Inherited in 2008 from author's grandmother, Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, sister of Howard Archibald Currie.

[3] Michigan Department of Health, birth registration no. 74-4519 (1927), Helen Floretta Currie; Vital Records Office, Lansing; privately held by author. Inherited in 2008 from author's grandmother, Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, sister of Helen Floretta Currie.

[4] 1930 U.S. census, Sanilac County, Michigan, population schedule, township of Flynn, enumeration district (ED) 15, sheet 3B, dwelling 67, family 67, Archie Curry household; digital images, ( : accessed 30 Jan 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 1028.

[5] Sanilac County, Michigan, death certificate no. 892 (1937), Jennie Currie; County Clerk, Sandusky; Pemberton/Currie/Drouillard family papers; supplied by Jennie's daughter, Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, Vinton, LA.

[6] Violet Mae Currie high school diploma, Marlette Township High School, Sanilac County, Michigan, May 1948, Pemberton/Currie/Drouillard family papers; privately held by author. Inherited in 2008 from author's grandmother, Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard.

[7] St. Clair County, Michigan, marriage certificate no. 8-99 (1949), Pemberton-Currie; County Clerk, Port Huron.

[8] The Methodist Church, marriage certificate, 9 Sep 1949, First Methodist Church, Port Huron, Michigan, John Peter Pemberton and Violet Mae Currie. Issued by Rev. William C.S. Pellorne, D.D., Pemberton/Currie/Drouillard Family Papers; privately held by author. Inherited in 2008 from author's grandmother, Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard.

[9] Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard (Vinton, Louisiana), interview by author, about 1995; no transcript; all information recorded on family group sheets and transferred to computerized family file.

[10] Backus to Pemberton, land contract, 22 September 1956, Pemberton/Currie/Drouillard Family Papers; supplied by Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, Vinton, Louisiana. Violet was a party to the contract.

[11] Engineman's Certificate of Qualification, no. 6562 (1956), John P. Pemberton, Mechanical Department, Canadian National Railways, Pemberton/Currie/Drouillard Family Papers; supplied by Violet (Currie) Pemberton Drouillard, Vinton, Louisiana. Violet was the wife of John.

[12] "John P. Pemberton," obituary, memorial copy, from Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan), 13 Oct 1970, Trahan/Pemberton Family Papers; supplied by Michael and Pamela (Pemberton) Trahan, Vinton, Louisiana. Pamela is the daughter of John.

[13] Clifford Robert Drouillard (Vinton, Louisiana), conversation with author, Dec 2008.

[14] Winnebago County, Illinois, marriage certificate no. 876 (1972), Drouillard-Pemberton; County Clerk, Rockford.

[15] "Violet Mae Drouillard," obituary, Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan), 17 Dec 2008, online archives ( : accessed 20 Dec 2008).


  1. What a great tribute to Mimi. I enjoyed your article.

  2. Thanks, Colleen! I'm so glad that someone outside the family has read it and enjoyed it!

  3. This is a lovely tribute! You did a great job with your sources :-) I learned the hard way that that was important to do when documenting dates....

  4. Thanks, Andrea! I'm glad you are impressed with the sources, b/c actually citing them was my major goal about 5 years ago, considering I never cited them for the first 10 years or so of research. Now I'm trying to cite them accurately, completely, and consistently. I think I've come a long way...LOL!

  5. I ran across this researching something on the church -- great job on telling the story of your sweet grandmother's life.

    Rev. Kathy Fitzhugh
    Welsh Memorial United Methodist Church
    Vinton, Louisiana

    1. Hi, Rev. Kathy! Glad you liked it. Thank you for being so great to my family over the years! I really liked what you said at my grandmother's memorial service about her and my grandpa doing such a great job with a blended family. That has always meant a lot to me and has stuck with me over the years. I think it explains a lot why our family is so close and why it is the way it is.