Ernest Joseph Despres, 95 of Residence Au Bénaise and formerly of Moncton passed away Tuesday, October 31, 2023 at the Dr. Georges L. Dumont Hospital.
Born in Cocagne, he was the son of the late Alphonse Despres and Laura (Mazerolle) Despres. Ernest worked at Assumption Life for 34 years, retiring as a purchasing manager.
Ernest began to play the fiddle while still a teenager and his natural talent would also take him to the guitar, mandolin and later the drums. In 1955 he married Jeanine Arsenault, a Cathedral organist and choir director. They formed a band in 1957 called Les Gais Mariniers specializing in old time favourites and Latin American tunes to play dance halls and other venues. Then in 1960, Ernest formed another band, the Ercolle Catalli. Other music alliances followed in which Ernest played drums and percussion, as well as fiddle. These included the Crescendos from 1962-1977 and Strings and Keys from 1990-1996. Ernest taught violin for about 25 years to a wide variety of individuals and on October 13, 2007 he was inducted in the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame.
After retiring from his day job in 1983, he opened a studio to teach violin, note reading and tablature, as well as mandolin and guitar and in 1991, he founded the Greater Moncton Fiddlers.
Ernest enjoyed staying busy and that once included painting and wood carving.
He is survived by his daughter Ginette Despres; grandchildren Mathew, Melyssa and Thomas Lake, Brandon Sellers and Kathleen Despres; sister Maria Belliveau (Henri). Predeceased by his beloved wife Jeannine; son Terrance Despres; daughter Jocelyne Despres and sisters Alphonsine and Andréa.
A Celebration of Ernest's Life, Kitchen Party Style will be held at a later date. Arrangements are in the care of Salisbury Funeral Home (506-372-4800). Private interment at Fair Haven Memorial Gardens.
If desired, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or Alzheimers Society would be appreciated by the family.
Online condolences at www.keirsteads.ca