US Marine, Purple Heart Recipient, Lawrence’s Daniel Cotnoir ~ VALLEY PATRIOT OF THE MONTH, HERO IN OUR MIDST

By: John Cuddy 3-23

The president of Edgar J. Racicot Funeral Home, formerly in Lawrence Massachusetts, now operating in Dracut, Massachusetts, is Lawrence native and US Marine Veteran, Daniel Cotnoir.

Operating since 1899, Racicot Funeral is one of the oldest businesses in continual operation in the Merrimack Valley. Although US Marine Dan Cotnoir, was featured once before in the Valley Patriot, reader feedback from last month’s article on US Navy Seabee, turned Chelsea Firefighter, turned President of Broco Oil, Robert Brown, inspired seeking out of another small business owner, in the Merrimack Valley, who is also a US Military Veteran.

The Valley Patriot featured in October of 2022, US Navy SEAL and entrepreneur, owner of Battle Grounds Coffee, Salvatore DeFranco, discussing his service, entry into business, run for political office, and of course, his love of coffee. This is the third of hopefully many, articles on Veterans in the Merrimack Valley, who own and operate unique small businesses.

Dan’s father David’s journey into the Funeral Home business, was quite accidental. Working as a custodian at a paper mill in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, when he was offered additional work, cleaning a local funeral parlor. This led to, the funeral parlor owner asking him one day, “do you own a suit?”

Pressed into service as a greeter at the funeral home for wakes and funerals, led David Cotnoir down a twisted path towards a career in funeral service. Raised in a home above the Racicot Funeral parlor, led his son, Dan Cotnoir down a more direct path into the career.
Originally joining the US Marines as Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 2111 Small Arms Repairer and Technician, later serving as a MOS 8551 Martial Arts Instructor. While in the process of deploying for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, with the US Marine Corp Expeditionary Force, a US Marine Corp Chief Warrant Officer discovered that Dan was a licensed funeral director. An impromptu meeting was held, and the US Marine Corp designated Dan with MOS 9051 Graves Registration Specialist. Dan spoke with great pride, on the US Marine tradition of “no Marine being left behind” and served with pride, setting up a large in theater mortuary for handling allied casualties. While serving in Iraq, Dan was wounded, and received the Purple Heart from the US Marine Corp.

Asking Dan about the day to day operations at the funeral home, he said that his wife Lori is indispensable in keeping the business side of the company running. This allows him to focus his efforts on the needs of the family and friends of the deceased.

Dan is also responsible for making sure all local, state, and federal regulations regarding the funeral and burial are followed. The funeral home is currently handling over fifty funeral services a year, with a large following in the Merrimack Valley’s French-Canadian and Veterans communities. Reminiscing about his childhood neighborhood in Lawrence, at a time when Christmas and Easter services at St. Mary’s Church was filled with Irish families, St. Francis Church with Lithuanian families, and St. Anne’s was filled to the rafters with French Canadian families. All three Roman Catholic churches, packed with Lawrence families on Sundays, were within a few yards of each other.

Dan completed Funeral Services training at Briarwood College, in Southington Connecticut, in 1996. Dan is a also a proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts’ Manning School of Business, earning his business degree on the Lowell, Massachusetts Campus in 2022. Dan can easily guide a deceased Veteran’s family through the eligibility requirements and nuances of a US Military funeral. Dan quickly reviewed the eligibility requirements of the New Hampshire and Massachusetts Veteran’s cemeteries, and Arlington National in Washington, DC.

From a family with a tradition of military service, both of Dan’s grandfathers served in World War II, one in the US Navy on an LST, the other in the US Army Signal corps. A broken back kept his dad from military service during Vietnam, his family’s patriotism and a desire to serve our nation, led Dan into the US Marine Corp. A businessman, Veteran, husband, father, and grandfather, Dan Cotnoir is a “Hero in Our Midst”.

On Tuesday February 28th, I had a routine medical appointment at the Veteran’s Administration. I was disheartened, to overhear elderly Veterans from the Second World War, Korean War, and Vietnam War, pleading, nearly begging, at the front desk for refills of medical prescriptions not covered by Medicare. I applaud the staff of the Veteran’s Administration, who seem to be doing everything in their power to serve our Nation’s Veterans, but are hamstrung, by the rules and regulations, imposed by our elected officials. Asking the Valley Patriot readers to write or call their congressman and two senators and ask them why this is happening?

In a nation that has spent billions in the Middle East and the Ukraine?

Asking all Valley Patriot readers to make sure they, and their entire family, is registered to VOTE!

The Dracut American Legion asks all World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans, to call (603) 518-5368 and sign up for an Honor Flight to the Memorials in Washington DC! Veterans of all eras are asked to go the American Legion’s Web site, and join the American Legion, our mission is working with Congress, Veterans, and the Community, preserving our Veteran’s Benefits for future generations and serving all Veterans and their families.

John Cuddy served in the US Navy’s Construction Battalions (also known as the Seabees) after retiring from the US Navy; he earned a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell Campus. He has been employed in Logistics at FedEx for the last 26 years. If you know a World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam War Veteran who would like their story told, please email him at ◊