Ernest Dugas and his wife, Frances, spent nearly every Valentine’s Day together for the past 71 years.

A devoted husband and father of six children, Mr. Dugas died Tuesday after a period of declining health. He was 93.

“My mom and dad were always in love,” said his daughter Nancy Barr. “Right until the end, my mother would hold his hands. Whenever they saw each other, it was always a kiss. They had a strong bond and they were strong in their faith. That’s what helped them get through.”

Mr. Dugas was remembered Wednesday as a dedicated father who worked hard his whole life to provide for his family.

He was a papermaker at S.D. Warren Co. for 40 years. His daughter said he was “first hand” on its paper machine. His job was to check the quality of the paper and make sure orders were filled.

Throughout the years, he also worked part time as a driver for Harnois Oil Co.

“My dad was a strong man,” Barr said. “He was a hard worker.”

For Mr. Dugas, family was everything. He and his wife lived on Allen Avenue in Westbrook, where they raised six children.

Barr laughed Wednesday while sharing stories about her childhood, noting the little ways her father brought joy into their lives. She reminisced about tobogganing at Riverside Golf Course, visiting Gray Animal Farm and feeding the ducks at a cemetery in Westbrook.

“He would put us in our pajamas and drive to the airport to watch the planes take off and land,” Barr said. “We used to think that was fun. … He wanted us to have a good life. He wanted us to be happy.”

A highlight of his life was spending time at the family camp at Deep Cove Shores in Raymond. It was a place where he and family members gathered for years. Barr said her father loved being there with family. One of Barr’s fondest memories was of her parents starting a fire to cook hot dogs and potatoes. Many nights, they would sing by the fire.

“Camp was fantastic,” she said. “We used to love it when my father and uncles would go out on the raft. They would rock the raft to knock us off into the water. We had so much fun at camp. They would play basketball with us, play kick the can, hide-and-seek and flashlight tag. It was a blast. We had about 40 cousins.”

Mr. Dugas was born and lived in Westbrook all his life. He was a longtime member of St. Mary’s Church on Main Street, which later merged to be part of St. Anthony’s Parish in Westbrook.

Mr. Dugas suffered a stroke in November and went to live at the Barron Center in Portland.

Barr reflected on her father’s passing, expressing gratitude for the many healthy years she had with him.

“My dad was a really awesome man,” she said. “All of my siblings would say the same thing.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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