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Haiti native reunited with missionary

June 30, 2011
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Township Reporter ( , The Review

CHESTER - Haiti native Daniel Fequiere wouldn't forget the woman that became his "substitute mother."

He was 14-years-old when he first met Elizabeth Carlson, of Oil City, Pa.

Carlson was 67, and on her first mission trip. Having raised her four children alone after the death of her husband in 1943, she immediately stepped into the role of substitute mother to many of the students at the Free Methodist mission located in a suburb of Port Au Prince.

Article Photos

Daniel Fequiere, a Haiti native, was reunited with Elizabeth Carlson Wednesday afternoon. Carlson spent time with a young Fequiere during mission trips to Haiti. (Photo by Katie Schwendeman)

Fequiere and his five siblings had lost their mother to an illness only two years prior, and while their father tried raising the children alone, he couldn't fill the void that remained. They longed for a mother.

When Carlson arrived, she made sure the children had clean clothes and good food.

"She would tell me, 'Be a good boy. See you tomorrow,'" he said.

Maxine Riddle, who served as a missionary there from 1955-1995, said Carlson's cooking was the reason she encouraged her to make the trip.

Riddle had lived in Oil City and knew Carlson for several years.

Carlson has always wanted to go on a mission trip, but it was a dream she had that sealed the deal.

"She had a dream about hands reaching out and thought that (going to Haiti) was her calling," Carlson's daughter-in-law Dorothy Carlson recalled.

Riddle said Carlson served above and beyond what she could have expected.

"I had a big job (in Haiti) and she wanted to help out. She did a miraculous job," she said.

Carlson also formed an immediate bond with several of the mission's other students. When she returned to the states after two years of service, she left a legacy of love.

Riddle said many of the mission's students asked about Carlson year after year.

"Even now I get phone calls from people asking about her," she said."When Daniel found out she was still living he immediately wanted to come meet her."

Fequiere had moved to the states in 1982 and currently lives in Miami.

When Riddle returned to the states after her missionary service she settled in Lakeland, Fla., which was where she was reunited with Fequiere.

"He's my number one son," she joked.

The two were reunited with Carlson in Chester on Wednesday after a 43-year separation. It was as though time had never stood between them.

Carlson is now 107 years old. She will be turn 108 in October.

Fequiere shed tears as he thanked Carlson for loving him as her own all those years ago.

"It was a miracle for me to see her," he said.

Fequiere also met Carlson's sons, Frank and Paul, and their wives.

Paul's wife, Barbara Carlson, said the family has six generations living, with the youngest member of the family turning one-year-old in December.

Paul Carlson said his mother frequently talked about her time in Haiti, and Fequiere specifically.

"We were happy to see her today and I think she was happy to see us," Riddle said.

Although Carlson has difficulty speaking now, she was able to show Fequiere she hadn't forgotten about him after all these years.

"Oh you love me so!" she said as he kissed her forehead and held her hand.

"Yes, I do," he replied.

Carlson resides at the Fox Nursing Home in Chester. More information about her mission trip to Haiti will appear in Sunday's Riverstyle.



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