Gilbert J. DeRoche Sr

BENTON – As his favorite song goes (altered), “And now his end is here”, Gilbert J. DeRoche Sr., 89, of Benton passed away on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, following life’s old age challenges over the last year. Dad is no longer a victim of gravity. His spirit and soul are flying free to see his maker, his past family members, co-workers and friends. Dad can now share with them what he did here on earth, which was building anything out of wood, homes to signs, singing with all who will listen, livening up the environment with many jokes at a rapid- fire pace. I am sure he is golfing again and taking in all the sports events especially football.

Dad has now found a new cribbage partner in heaven instead of playing cards with Mike ~ he gets way too many cuts. We said, we played for the fun and to share of each other’s company, but he kept a scorecard accurate for the last 7.5 years!

Dad stayed at his home in Benton during the end of his life, with our gift on earth, his loving and caring wife of 18 years, Nancy. Gil Sr. and Nancy privately were married on July 13, 2001. They shared many trips, some to Vegas and many other gaming locations. Dad would sing carioca at many of the locations across the states always with a smile. They even made a trip to Hawaii. Nancy and her immediate family shared many events, singing and laughing at Gil’s jokes. Dad did not just tell jokes to be a joke teller. Dad told jokes with everyone he knew, at work or play, he felt laughter was the fix for all one’s emotional state of mind. Gil purposely shared a joke because he wanted everyone he knew and met to reach the euphoria you have when you relax and laugh. Nancy kept Dad warm, “turn up the heat Nancy” and attended his physical issues right up to the last 3 days of his life.

Gil Sr was born to Sylvia (LeBreton) and Alphonse DeRoche on Feb 10th, 1931 on the Old Town Indian Reservation. He was the second oldest of the 6 surviving children and the last one to pass away. 5 other siblings died at or around birth. Gil Sr grew up and was raised with his 5 siblings in Madison, Maine. Dad’s family faced many challenges and was nothing short of a special group of 6 community children. Their father, Alphonse left his family in 1943 leaving the 4 girls and 2 boys with their mother, Sylvia and not much of anything else besides each other. The Madison community was very helpful to his family including a special coach at school who wanted Dad to be part of the program if he could learn the capitals of each state in America. After the task was completed, Dad joined the team as a helper. Dad will test the grandchildren on State capitals, as his retention on them were still solid. Dad carried the affliction for sporting teams and the family comradery shown within the team members. Dad said, his mother would sing during the weekly activities. All of Dad’s sisters were gifted with the ability to sing. Dad sang when he was young at fairs, competitions (which he would win) and was traveled to Portland by a Madison community member to record a “78” single song. Anyone who saw his vehicle for the last 30 years saw his license plate as “My Way 5”.

Dad stopped his education in the 9th grade to help earn money for his mother and family doing small task in the town, especially around the pool hall. He remembers the tears it would bring to his mother when he gave her a $5 bill he won in a singing contest. She tried to have him utilize his singing talents. As Dad grew to the teenager years, he would gather with his cousins Ditty and Tinker, guitars and sing all night. Dad hitch hiked for 3 years from Madison to Fairfield to court a friend he met on the bus. Dad was sitting in a crowded bus when Joan Pooler came on the bus. Of course, Dad stood up to give his seat to yes, mom. If he had a rose with him, he would have asked her to accept the flower not just the seat.

Gilbert J. DeRoche Sr. and Joan Pooler were married on August 25, 1951. They were together for 47 years before the nasty cancer took Joan’s life at 66 years young. Dad entered the Korean conflict serving in the US Army after their marriage. During his enlistment, Dad talked his way through the physical and passed even though he always had vision in only his left eye. His service buddy’s noting his physical stature, nicknamed him “peewee”. The one eye obviously had a successful honeymoon. While out of the country serving for his country, Mom gave birth to their first child, Gilbert Jr. in 1952. Mom’s parents willingly helped raise little Gilly Jr.in the child’s first year.

After completing his commitment in the service, Gil Sr and Joan eventually located themselves in their own home in Fairfield. Dad was proud and felt it was a privilege and blessing to raise 5 children. Gil learned and an applicable carpentering trade. He worked for several contractors building homes in Waterville’s 1st Range way, the home for Little Wander’s, the Boys and Girls club, Mayflower Hill, the Nun’s convent, Keyes Fibre engineer (Huhtamaki) building on the hill and many more. Gil Sr would be left inside the buildings to complete the finish work of the home. He could calculate the necessary components without but a few pieces of leftover wood. Dad worked helping build or upgrade other friend’s homes and camps. Dad would tell “little Johnny in school” jokes all day long. Gil would finish his working life at Keyes Fibre company mostly in the maintenance carpenter shop. Dad could make some solid boxes to ship parts from the machine shop to any domestic or foreign location back in the day. Leave him alone get out of the way because he wouldn’t stop until he completed all the task.

Dad sang at many homes, camp’s and events singing together with others made the night more enjoyable. In Dad’s later years, he teamed with Nate Martin to sing at the Nursing homes in Central Maine. Nate brought the equipment and carried the load most of the time. Dad talked recently of how much satisfaction it was singing in the Nursing home, but he also enjoyed the friendship he built with Nate. Nate gave to Dad a quality of life, he would not have experienced during so many home trips over the last couple of decades, to sing this late in life. It was just plain fun with music. It may be true Nate enjoyed Dad’s company equally, but the pair gave back to the community while just singing and laughing.

Gil Sr. participated within the newly formed PAL ~ Police Athletic League established throughout the US to get the community kids engaged with organized physical activity intended to teach playing to learn what “winners” do not to teach that winning a game is the most important aspect of a team game. The Fairfield, Albion, Clinton and Benton towns formed sports teams and organized one of the most successful youth programs for girls and boys. The youth program has lights by 1960 on the youth league football field. Dad was proud of the fact that the legendary Maine football coach Peter Cooper moved from Madison to Lawrence high school with much enthusiasm from the PAL organization. Bill Donahue, Mike Woods, Dave Woods, Wally Oakes, Bill Hill, David Perry, and so many others, sorry in advance here but I am leaving out others only in error ~ you know who you are and thank you too but these gentlemen and the ladies put together outstanding youth programs not because they had to but only because they wanted to and they wanted the best for their and others children. Now Dad was not mister expert coach on skill’s or technique but he was one of the adults who would build bleachers or shacks, encourage participation, pat a child on the back, let them know they were doing their best if they were trying their hardest, make sure a child had a ride home, or a glove, cleats etc. Many hours, many years, many friends and enjoyable times together forming relationships in the community which generated gatherings to do what Dad could do also ~ be the life of the group by telling jokes and singing all night. One of Gil Sr. favorite programs was Lawrence High School Football. Dad was seen on the 40-yard line at least 2 hours prior to the home and away games for the last 35+ years. His presence with Charlie York at all home and away boys or girl’s games, of course, early and in the back row every time, was in the bleachers at the Basketball games.

Gil Sr. is survived by his loving wife, Nancy and stepchildren and step grandchildren Kathleen and Louis Bourgeois with Nick Cormier, Sean and Jazuymen Cormier, Brad and Kaila Cormier. Gregory and Kimberly Cormier with Kristin and Eric Eggdoy, Ryan Cormier and Lindsay Cormier. Eric and Lisa Cormier with Seth and Taylor Cormier. Erin Cormier.

Gil Sr. is survived by his children and grandchildren Gil Jr and Sue DeRoche with Jamie and Allan Mitchell, Jen and Cory Pelletier, also Josh Poulin and companion Danielle Morse. Dana and Lana DeRoche with Chris DeRoche and companion Sarah Diana, Travis and Nicole DeRoche, Melissa Levesque also Ryan and Shawna Robinson. Michael and Carolee DeRoche with Lindsay and Jared Bragdon, Brittnae DeRoche and companion BB Jesse Lacasse. Deborah DeRoche with Steve and Kelley Knox and Shawn Knox. Peter DeRoche with Jared and Rachell DeRoche and Amber and Jake Dangler. Of course, you can imagine the list is long of great grandchildren. Family members shared great grandchildren visits, when they could, the visits were never often enough for them or for Dad. You know Dad loved to make the young children laugh with his two thumbs sliding in his hands, he made it look like he was removing the tip of his thumb ~ gotcha ~didn’t he laugh along with us too.

Gil Sr was predeceased by his first wife Joan, all his DeRoche siblings Retha Jolin, Priscilla Arsenault, Richard (Manny) DeRoche, Gloria Dupont, Delores Corson. God has blessed their souls and are together again.

At the request of Gil Sr. his music and picture slide show will be going on Sunday March 1, starting the celebration of life at 4:00 p.m. The location we wish for you to join us is, where all the activities will be held, the Waterville Elks Club, large room, 76 Industrial St. Waterville. We will have the color guard, lodge of sorrows and a food buffet with many and plenty Hors D’oeuvre along with the bar, coffee, punch and water. We expect family will be with us. We wish for all friends of Dad during his life regardless how long ago it was that you played golf or gathered singing, please join us, we want friends of the family and the community to also join us one last time in Big Gil’s name. We have plenty room with ample table and seating capacity. We welcome any and all to join the speakers for memory telling, jokes, favorite thoughts or just a short recognition of his gravitational place here on earth with us. At Gil’s request (sure) there is no crying allowed, go figure.

At Gil’s request, in lieu of flowers, please send a donation, regardless of the amount, small quantities times plenty contributions, will add up to a nice memory of Dad ~ based on the volume collected will determine the training, weight room or practice equipment purchased in Dad’s PAL name. Send to: Lawrence High School Booster PO Box # 497 in Fairfield Maine 04937 C/O Libby Higgins. They will work with the athletic department, David Packard, Coaches John Hersom and Peter Curtis to find the most valued need in Gil’s name.

An online guestbook may be signed, and memories shared at www.familyfirstfuneralhomes.com

Arrangements are by Lawry Brothers Funeral & Cremation Care, 107 Main St., Fairfield.