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(Posted 9:30 p.m., Jan. 8)
Community mourns the loss of a 'gentleman's gentleman'

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ray St. Louis, shown her with his wife of 66 years, Jeannine, in 2014, passed away last week at the age of 84. File photo

The community of Orléans, and the community at the Orléans Legion Branch 632 in particular, lost an exceptional man last week with the unexpected passing of Raymond St. Louis.

St. Louis passed away in his sleep on Jan. 2 at the age of 84. He is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Jeannine, his son Claude and predeceased by his son Robert.

St. Louis' legacy also lives on with on a long list of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

A proud Korean War Veteran, Sgt. St. Louis spent 30 years in the Canadian Military from 1950 to 1980. He served in Korea with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), followed by time as a peacekeeper in the Middle East. He finished his military career as a vehicle technician with Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME).

A Mass was held for St. Louis at Divine Infant Church in Orléans on Saturday, Jan. 7, followed by a tribute and reception at the Orléans Legion Branch 632 on Taylor Creek Drive.

"Ray was a tremendous individual that everybody wanted to be around," said Branch President, Jim Ferguson, who presided over the Legion ceremony. "It's going to be difficult without him around, a man like Ray can't be replaced."

Close to 300 ex-military and civilians packed the Legion to pay their final respects to their fallen friend and comrade.

Ray St. Louis was the driving force bebhind the local Poppy Campaign for decades. File photo

As a founding and charter member of the Branch, St. Louis was right at home, in memoriam, surrounded with the dozens of friends, associates and family he had made during his lifetime.

One by one they carefully placed poppies next to a picture of St. Louis as their final display of love and respect.

It was a fitting display of affection and touching send-off as St. Louis was an important figure and driving force behind the Poppy Campaign in the Orléans area.

St. Louis and Jeannine had been the pioneers of the Poppy Campaign and main catalysts for 40 years, well before the Orléans branch of the Legion was up and running.

St. Louis also served as the parade marshal for the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Orléans Legion for years, leading the parade of dignitaries and military personnel, both past and present, onto the grounds at the start of each ceremony. His trademark was to end his attendance report with 632.

Claude St. Louis remembers his dad as a strict discilplinarian with a heart of gold.

"My dad was always there for us when we were growing up and in our adult lives," Claude proudly stated. "He was strict and insisted that everything be kept as neat as a pin, but he was a fantastic person and great parent."

"Every person that served under him in the Armed Forces told me that he was a dedicated serviceman. On several occasions, many of them came up to me and told me how much his men respected and cherished him."

The stories about St. Louis and accolades directed his way were the order of the day once the food was served and the bar was opened.

"I'm going to miss our times together but I have a ton of memories that I will be able to look back at whenever I think of Ray," said Ken Volves, a former member of the Armed Forces.

The ex-Gloucester politician reminisced about spending more than 10 years with Ray working for "Encounters with Canada" a Youth Program that gives young people the opportunity to learn more about Canada's heritage and institutions.

"We enjoyed a lot of good times, many laughs. I hope he rests in peace."

On many occasions, funerals and wakes can be a sad and heartbreaking place to be, but on this day, it was a celebration of St. Louis' life and all his professional and personal achievements.

St. Louis will be missed but he lived life to the fullest, served his country with honour, raised a family and certainly left his mark in the Orleans community.

Everybody was there to say goodbye to their friend or in the case of his cousin Gerry Poulin, a final salute.

"I already miss Raymond, but I have a lifetime of memories that I'll look back on and start to laugh, just like we used to," said Poulin.

In memoriam of Sgt. St. Louis, donations to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute would be appreciated.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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