The Singing Dairy Farmer of Contoocook NH: Don Rondo (1930-2011)

Photo of Don Rondeau

He was born Donald Theodore Rondeau, but his fans knew him as “Don Rondo.” He grew up on his father’s dairy farm and later would work as a milk-tank truck driver, bulldozer operator. He was a plumber’s apprentice when he first became a vocal recording star.

Anything you do, if you get appreciated, you like it,” he said about the noisy to-do of agents, the screams of teenagers and the endless clink of money involved in his new profession. “I’ve been around for ten years and never could get arrested, much less famous. Then I do one record, ‘two different worlds,’ and I go bang! from nowhere to silk suits.” He was quoted in a 1957 Elwood Indiana newspaper.

Newspaper Ad from 1962, Montreal newspaper

He was actually ‘discovered’ when he was just a young kid. According to Rondo, “I come from a family of eight kids. Every Sunday afternoon , me being the youngest, it was my job to feed the cows while my older brothers took their girls out. They had to be back by five to milk the cows. Well, one Sunday I was singing my head off and a couple of grain salesmen heard me–they were there to sell my dad something–and they said they were going to put my name up for a talent scout contest, sponsored by the Lions Club.” Rondo won of course. This led to his own radio show at station WACE in Chicopee Falls Massachusetts, a few miles from his home of Palmer MA.

He would then appear in a variety of clubs and events, and prior to launching his national career, he was a featured vocalist with Landerman Brothers Orchestras, Hartford CT. In 1955 and 1956 he had 2 platinum records Two Different Worlds and White Silver Sands.  Later, along with appearing as a regular on many Bob Hope tour shows, he had a spot on the then-acclaimed Ed Sullivan’s TV show. His singing voice was a nice baritone, and he pretty much stuck with ballads, avoiding the rock and roll craze that was flooding the United States. Into the early 1970s.

Later in life he moved to Contoocook, New Hampshire, and that is where he spent his golden years, dying there at age 81.

Daily News article of 1957 calling Don Rondo the “Man With the Golden Pipes”

=====PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF DON RONDO=====

Pierre Rondeau (1642-1692) & Marie Ancelin Asselin
Jean Baptiste Nicolas Rondeau & Marie Madeleine Guignard
Jean Baptiste Rondeau & Madeleine Houde
Jean Baptiste Rondeau & Marguerite Emery Dit Coderre
Jean Marie Rondeau & Genevieve Lambert Dit Aubin
Jean Marie Rondeau & Rose Charron Dit Ducharme
[the above line from an Ancestry.com family tree]

Henri Jean Marie Rondeau, born 24 Aug 1845 St Felix de Valois, Quebec Canada, and died 2 June 1923 Joliette Canada.
He married Marie Arthemise “Armeline” Auger. She was born 16 Dec 1851 in Joliette Quebec and died in 1920. Buried St-EUgene-de-Grantham, Quebec, Canada. In 1891 they were living in St. Felix de Valois, Joliette, Quebec, Canada.
——-
Children of Henri & Arthemise (Auger) Rondeau:
1. Edouard Rondeau, b 1875
2. Clement Rondeau, b. 1877
3. Albina Rondeau, b. 1879
4. Marie Rondeau, b 1882
5. M. Evelina Rondeau, b. 1884, d. 1886
6. +Olivier Rondeau, b 4 July 1888 SEE
7. Henry Joseph Rondeau, b 1893; m. Eva Roussel

Olivier “Oliver” Rondeau was born 4 July 1888 at St. Felix de Valois, Joliette, Quebec, Canada. In 1917 when he completed his WWI Registration form he was a lineman for the Palm MA Street Railroad, and had a wife and three children. He lived at 10 Pine Street in Palmer MA, was tall, with brown eyes and dark hair. He died in 1957 in Massachusetts, and is buried in Saint Anne’s Cemetery, Three Rivers MA.  He married 23 June 1913 in Three Rivers, Hampden MA to Elmira Mera “Mary E.” Goodreau, daughter of Alfred & Lizzie Goodreau. She was born 27 October 1890 in Palmer MA and died in 1966 in Chicopee MA.
—–
Children of Oliver & Elmira M. (Goodreau) Rondeau:
1. Leo Oliver, born 2 April 1914 Palmer MA, died 2005
2. Arthur Alfred Rondeau, b 16 July 1915 Palmer MA, died 29 June 2001
3. Alvin C. Rondeau, b 28 Dec 1916, died 6 Jan 1999
4. Wilfred Henry Rondeau, b 21 July 1918 in Palmer MA and d. 15 July 1999
5. Robert Edward Rondeau, b 23 Jan 1921 Palmer MA, d. 22 Jan 2009
6. Olive Mary Rondeau, b 7 May 1923, died 1 April 2010; married Leo Lambert.
7. Lorraine Marie Rondeau b 23 Feb 1928 Ware MA, died 18 Aug 2018; married Donald E. Smith.  Resided Monson MA.
8. +Donald T. Rondeau, b. 1930

Donald Theodore Rondeau was born in Ware Massachusetts on Jan. 5th 1930, son of Oliver & Elmira (Goodreau) Rondeau, died 27 January 2011 in Contoocook NH. He married Ida Mae (Bousquet) Rondeau [for 61 years.].  They had children:  Ronald (who died in 1983), Deborah, and Gary.  [this story is about him, see also above]. 

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3 Responses to The Singing Dairy Farmer of Contoocook NH: Don Rondo (1930-2011)

  1. John D. Tew says:

    I must admit I never heard of Don Rondo, but hving lived in Salem Depot and Concord, NH as well as Chicopee, MA during my youth in the 50s and 60s, I found this post very interesting.

    One quesion though . . . you have Mr. Rondo living from 1930 to 2016, but you said just before the partial genealogy that he died at age 81 in Contoocook. I think that is a typo and should be 86 rather than 81 if he was born in 1930 and died in 2016 (depending what month he died, perhaps he was 85).

    Enjoyed the post. Thank you.

    John

  2. Eileen M. Cummings says:

    I remember Don Rondo when I was a teenager…loved his singing but don’t believe he recorded other than “Two Different Worlds” and “White Silver Sands”, maybe someone knows.

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