Farewell, Guy Lefebvre, a Lowell Connector

Web photo courtesy of HOWL magazine and Tory Wesnofske

We learned today that Guy Lefebvre passed away at his home in Maine. Our sympathy goes to his family and many friends. I will always remember Guy’s good spirit and generosity in the years that he ran his Lowell Gallery at the corner of Central and Jackson streets in downtown Lowell. I got to know him through our mutual enthusiasm for historic Lowell, a topic with infinite handles and seemingly no limits. As my friend and co-blogger Marie Sweeney says with a laugh, “There’s always a Lowell connection.” Guy was a living Lowell Connector in his day, always ready to support city heritage initiatives and make time to help people who were doing the history thing.

When I first met him, I called him “Guy,” saying it in English, the hard G with EYE, like GUEYE, but then realized he used the French pronunciation, the hard G and long E sound, like GUEE. And his last name wasn’t easy when you looked at it on paper, one of those French surnames with silent letters when said the French way: Le-FEB (vre) or Le-FEV. Some people said La-FAVE or La-Feeber. I liked that he nudged you to say GUEE and that he was proud to be French Canadian-American.

We worked together on a limited-edition print in tribute to the Ladd & Whitney Monument in front of Lowell City Hall. He said he’d do a print and frame copies if I wrote something original. I don’t know if he sold 10 copies after we did the project, but I enjoyed collaborating with him. He was quick to take books I’d written for sale in the gallery. We did better with those than the limited-edition print over the years. His gallery, while a small business offering framing services and artwork for sale, was as much of a cultural asset as some of the city museums, even though just slightly larger than a phone booth (an artifact of the pay-phone era—he may have had an old Lowell phone booth in storage, complete with numbers scribbled inside like GL-20048, the GL for Glenview). Local people or visitors could walk in and look at the paintings and historic photos, prints, etchings, and maps on the walls—for free. You knew you would see Janet Lambert-Moore’s colored sketches of Lowell scenes. I know some of them came back to buy something special or ask Guy to do a custom frame-job on an autographed photo or an award certificate or a favorite movie poster, as I did for a “Doctor Zhivago” collectible poster the size of a small banner.

Guy had a million interests, some of which he talked about during his radio appearances on WCAP about 20 steps away from his gallery. His private collection of Lowell photographs, Benjamin Butler illustrations, rare postcards, and more put him in the elite category of collectors of Lowell items. He presided at the gallery counter a little like an old-time bartender who enjoyed the back-and-forth with customers.

Many of us were happy that he found buyers for the Lowell Gallery who have kept the business going and then some. We were also glad that he got a break from the “office” and was able to have time away up country for several years. We hear people say that someone was “an original,” often after they’ve passed. It goes without saying that Guy Lefebvre was his own guy, original and authentic, who leaves a legacy of stories, laughs, and lasting contributions to Lowell.

Here’s a link to a Jennifer Myers story about Guy published in Howl magazine in 2017.

3 Responses to Farewell, Guy Lefebvre, a Lowell Connector

  1. Nancye Tuttle says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful memory of Guy. He truly was one of Lowell’s most generous and well-informed citizens. He helped me immensely when I created the Mogan Center temporary exhibit “Picture It: Lowell Goes to the Movies” with a Lowell Historic Preservation Commission grant in 1991. Guy did all of my matting and framing for the large exhibit and had a ball doing it, I believe, since there was so much great stuff to look at and revel over. When downsizing, I sold him a couple of artifacts I had (an opening program from one of the old movie theaters in Boston and a signed print from Tony Bennett)….Guy was also generous to artists, including my friend Janet Lambert Moore and my husband John. They shared space in the Lowell Gallery for the annual Open Studios that were held in town in the early 2000s. I am sorry that Guy did not live longer to enjoy the beautiful house he constructed in Maine, where he and Denise have spent only a few years in retirement. He was a great guy, for sure, generous, kind and so very smart. May he rest in peace.

  2. Chris Smith says:

    We first connected at his home in 1975 when he helped me prepare a presentation on FDR I’d planned give to some local community elders. Guy helped rein me in during my defense of some disputed details, and taught me, in that instant, the value of acquiescently peaceful disagreement and gentlemanly agreement on progressing toward a rewarding collective future promoted by revering our shared pasts.

    We’re still connected, but I’ll miss him; I tried to see him at his shop, I got an aerial GS photo of The Bunt, but Guy was in Maine.
    RIP Guy; a real leader who stayed connected to his roots…

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