Roland W. Michaud, a pioneering radar engineer during the Cold War and a devoted husband and father of seven, died Nov. 6 at his second home in Ormond Beach, Fla. He was 89 years old.
Roland made Massachusetts his home base and raised his children with his wife Sallie Ann Michaud (née Smallwood) in Woburn and Lynnfield. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict and designed anti-missile systems for the U.S. military as an electrical engineer with MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Raytheon Company, The MITRE Corp., and SenCom Corp.
A couple of years after Sallie’s death, Roland met Beverly A. Blackwell (née Porter), a grade-school teacher with the North Middlesex Regional School District in Ashby, Mass. They were married in 2001 in Lunenburg, Mass., where they resided for many years before becoming “snowbirds” and splitting their time between Florida and their home in Pepperell, Mass.
Although he always returned to the state of his birth, Roland adventured around the world. He moved his young family to Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands, and to Fort Walton Beach, Fla. For work, he traveled to such places as Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Louisiana.
Roland invested in real estate and ran rental properties in Hampton Beach, N.H., as well as the Hillcrest Inn in Ogunquit, Maine. Sallie and their seven children shared the work at the Hillcrest Inn, serving breakfast and making up the inn’s 31 guest rooms.
“My dad always had a new project cooking in the back of his mind,” said his daughter Anne Michaud-Harman, a writer in Huntington, N.Y. “He dreamed big and brought us along for the ride.”
Roland enjoyed keeping busy by undertaking home maintenance projects, repairing second-hand cars, and playing trumpet, board games, caroms, and cards. He instilled his love for music and games in his children.
Roland also loved a good road trip. He drove up and down the East Coast numerous times, sometimes with the whole family packed in a station wagon, and oftentimes with a U-Haul trailer in tow. He moved his children in and out of college and travelled to numerous graduations, recitals and other events for his children and grandchildren. His devotion to “being there” (literally) for his family was matched only by his joy of driving.
Always available to help with home projects — from planting gardens or installing ceiling fans — Roland would round out the project with a celebratory ice cream or fish dinner. He was close with his four siblings and several childhood friends, and he was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church.
Roland was born Joseph Roland William Michaud on Oct. 23, 1931 in Salem, Mass. to Edgar, a carpenter, and Irene (nee Morin), a singer, textile mill worker and homemaker. He was their second child.
Roland grew up in the French section of Salem, populated by French-speaking Canadians who emigrated from Quebec in search of jobs in New England’s factories and mills. The center of the neighborhood’s spiritual, social and cultural life was St. Joseph Church. The neighborhood children attended the parish school where French-speaking nuns offered half-day instruction in English and half a day in French. Roland graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1950 and remained lifelong friends with many of his classmates.
He believed in education and was the first in his family to attend college. Roland earned a B.S. in 1960 and an M.S. in 1969, both in electrical engineering from Northeastern University.
His work supported the U.S. Department of Defense in tactical and strategic battle management and air traffic control systems.
He is survived by his wife Beverly, of Ormond Beach, Fla.; brother Roger and Audrey Michaud of Danvers, Mass.; sister Jacqueline and George Normand of Danvers, Mass.; daughter Anne Michaud-Harman and Daniel Harman of Huntington, N.Y.; son William Michaud and Nancy (Leach) Michaud of New Hartford, Conn.; daughter Mary Michaud and Mark Edwards of Fleetwood, N.C.; son Glenn Michaud of Danvers, Mass.; daughter Gail Parente of Melrose, Mass.; son Paul and Loretta (Diaz) Michaud of Houston, Texas; daughter Janet Michaud and Michael Montgomery of Washington, D.C.; stepson Mykol Blackwell of Redway, Calif.; stepdaughter Sharon (Foehl) and Robbie Harlow of Ormond Beach, Fla.; stepson Stephen Blackwell of Palm Springs, Calif.; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Roland was predeceased by his sister Lorraine Novello and her husband Russell, of Peabody, Mass.; and by his brother Edgar C. Michaud and his wife Florence V. (née Mafley) of Beverly, Mass.
Roland’s ashes will be buried in Lynnfield alongside his first wife. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Mary of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church on Conant Street in Danvers when the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.