A Renaissance woman who served as president of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra for 18 years, Lillian B. Lamoureux (1921-2017) was an accomplished pianist, devoted Francophile, and skilled business partner at Lamoureux Funeral Home. In addition to guiding a community ensemble to become the well-respected New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, Lillian promoted her Franco American heritage as an active board member of La Ligue des Franco-Americains.
A veritable Renaissance woman who served as president of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra for 18 years, Lillian B. Lamoureux (1921-2017) was an accomplished pianist, devoted Francophile, and skilled business partner.
Lillian Blanche Tetreault was born to Rita and Hormisdas Tetreault on February 7, 1921 in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Lillian spent her early childhood in Pawtucket, but after her father died she was sent to a bilingual boarding school in Canada at the age of eight. At the Montreal Musical Conservatory, Lillian studied classical piano, for which she won two awards. She next attended Presentation of Mary Academy, an all-girls boarding high school in Hudson, New Hampshire. There she won a gold medal for her piano skills and graduated as class valedictorian. After her return to Rhode Island, Lillian earned an undergraduate degree from Bryant College in secretarial science in 1940. In 1944, she married Albert J. Lamoureux.
Soon Lillian began making an impact, in Massachusetts, particularly in New Bedford. Her influence extended from business to music, as well as French language and culture. Lillian was a partner for over 45 years in the family-owned Lamoureux Funeral Home in New Bedford, from 1949 to 1995. She worked as its compassionate receptionist. As president of the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (NBSO) from 1981 to 1999, Lillian guided the orchestra through nearly two decades of challenges, including moving it from being a community musical ensemble to a well-respected symphony orchestra. Under her leadership, the NBSO presented classical masterpieces and contemporary selections from national and international artists. The NBSO has performed at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, churches, schools and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s open-air July 4 th concerts. Lillian also worked to promote her Franco American heritage as an active board member of La Ligue des Franco-Americains. She saw the beauty of French language and culture and proposed that French be taught in local libraries by retired French teachers. Lillian served as president of the Dames Patronesses of Sacred Heart Home in New Bedford. The Dames Patronesses, established in 1925, monitored fund raising for the home and assisted with charitable acts there until they were disbanded in 1987. Lillian was an honorary life member of the Boivin Center for French Language and Culture at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She was also a member of the New Bedford Arts Council under three mayors.
In a 2013 interview with Dr. Mel Yoken, Lillian discussed her accomplishments, influences, and challenges. She named the NBSO as both a great accomplishment and a great challenge. This involved in her words, “. . . finding a competent music director to reshape the orchestra by auditions, resources to pay musicians, building loyalty for competent players and connecting with UMD’s Music Department.” Lillian also insisted on the need to introduce children to popular musicals and light classical pieces as early as pre-school and even in the womb.
Lillian acknowledged two women as great influences on her, her mother and her first high school piano and organ teacher. She explained that her mother “was a 35-year old piano-playing widow with five children who, with her young family and a limited education, had a preponderance of common sense, faith and discernment.” It was her mother who enrolled her at Bryant College to learn the business skills she would later use at Lamoureux Funeral Home and the NBSO. Her high school piano and organ teacher, Dr. (Sister) Cecile of the Angels, guided Lillian through a one-month study of a classical piece to winning a gold medal against college students.
Lillian received numerous awards for her work, often in leadership roles, with several organizations. In 2000, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for her role in supporting the musical culture of New Bedford. The city of New Bedford and the Massachusetts State Senate recognized Lillian for these efforts, as well. The NBSO established the annual Lillian B. Lamoureux Music Scholarship in 2000 to support young South Coast musicians ages 14 to 21 who intend to pursue music education. In 2010, Lillian was named Personality of the Year by Catholic Financial Life and in 2011 she was recognized as Franco American of the Year by La Ligue des Franco-Americains.
Lillian died on August 1, 2017, at the age of 96. Survived by daughter Ann and son Paul, she is buried at Sacred Heart Cemetery in New Bedford. Dr. Mel Yoken’s words “Viva Lillian!” remain true through her legacies of music and French that live on in the South Coast.
Ann O’Leary, Emily Bourne Research Fellow
“Lillian B. Lamoureux, 96.” SouthCoast Today, 1 Aug. 2017,
Yoken, Mel B. “Viva Lillian!” The SouthCoast Insider, CoastalMags.com, 18 Aug. 2013,