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Remembered by his co-workers as someone who enjoyed music and good humor, Lyonel Louis-Jean, an assistant cook in Adams Dining Hall, died Wednesday morning at the age of 55.
Louis-Jean joined Harvard University Dining Services in January 1987. He worked exclusively at Adams Dining Hall for the past 25 years.
“He was always for the house,” said Gary C. Davis, who has worked in the Adams Dining Hall for 30 years. “Students were always number one for him.”
Louis-Jean’s co-workers described him as a hard worker who also brought an air of levity to the job.
During his time at Harvard, he was promoted from a kitchen receiver to an assistant cook.
“He can be very serious, but always makes jokes,” said Adams Dining Hall worker Marie G. Perpignant.
She said she commuted to work with Louis-Jean every morning and valued the friendship they had formed over the past 25 years.
Louis-Jean was committed to supporting his colleagues.
“If anyone was behind he would jump in and help out,” Davis said.
As a Haitian immigrant who spoke Creole, Louis-Jean served as an interpreter for those who were not fluent in English and clarified any issues between the workers and the union.
“If you have a problem, he will defend you until the end,” Perpignant said.
Louie-Jean’s brother, Jacques Louis-Jean, also works at Harvard as a financial assistant for Campus Services. He described his brother as quiet and hardworking, but also light-hearted.
“I had a very good relationship. He was serious and funny at the same time,” Jacques Louis-Jean said.“He is my brother, my little brother.”
Louis-Jean was also passionate about music, his co-workers said. They recalled Louis-Jean walking in to the Adams Junior Common Room during breaks to write music and play the piano every single day.
“He was always with his music,” another member of the Adams Dining Hall staff Gabriela M. Pucci said.
Davis said that once he noticed that someone was disposing of an old organ and called Louis-Jean because he knew he would appreciate it.
“I knew that if anyone was going to use it, it would be him,” Davis said.
In an email to Adams residents, Adams House Resident Dean Sharon L. Howell expressed the community’s sorrow for the loss.
“You should know we (and HUDS) are doing all we can to make sure [the dining hall staff] are supported in this sad moment,” she wrote. “But your support will surely mean a great deal as well.”
Louis-Jean is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 25 and 19.
-Staff writer Eliza M. Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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