It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Marcel Bernard (Ben) Poitras on May 6, 2019 at the age of 98. Ben will be forever remembered and loved by his wife of 71 years, Ann Poitras (Devlin); sons Ron (Linda), Michael (Marlene), Bernie (Sarah), and daughter Elizabeth (Mike), his grandchildren, Rachelle, Andre, Yves, Anne-Marie, Evan, Marc, Gabriel, Stevenson and his nieces and nephews.
We take comfort in knowing that Ben will be reunited with family members who have left before him including an infant son, Bernard Dennis, his parents, sisters Henedine (Henny) Therrien, Estelle Vachon, Gabrielle Poitras and brothers Gerard and Wilfred. He was also predeceased by son-in law, Mike Kossovan and daughter-in-law, Marlene Lidkea.
Ben was born in 1921 in St. Paul, Alberta, where he grew up, the sixth child of Alphonse Poitras and Marie Labrie. After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII as an airframe mechanic, he married Ann Devlin on April 22, 1948 in Vancouver, BC. They moved between British Columbia and Alberta to pursue teaching positions, settling in St. Paul in 1956 to raise their family. He obtained his Master–aphostrophe–s degree in educational psychology from Oregon State University in the 60–aphostrophe–s. Arriving in Edmonton in 1968 with his family, Ben worked as a school psychologist with Edmonton Catholic Schools until his retirement in 1983 after a 35-year career in education.
Ben was dedicated to education and encouraged his children to pursue and achieve their educational goals. As a high school teacher of math, physics and the sciences in St. Paul, he was often credited by former students for getting them through the tough courses to allow them to graduate. He combined his teaching with being a part-time guidance counsellor, organizing bus trips for students from St. Paul to open houses at NAIT and the University of Alberta to help them choose future careers.
He was a skilled do-it-yourselfer his entire life, which included making his own suitcases for travel while in the military, building his own garage, a greenhouse and desks for his children to study at. He enjoyed his early retirement years travelling and later working on home projects, offering advice and help on his children–aphostrophe–s projects and his hobby, ham radio.
Ben was a lifelong ham radio operator (VE6AVP) connecting with many operators around the world, pinning their locations on a map in his radio room. He once used his radio skills to alert the US Coast Guard to the rescue of a sailboat crew off the coast of California after hearing their distress signal over the airwaves. He had many friends in the ham community as a member of the Northern Alberta Radio Club, attended their Saturday morning coffee meets and volunteered his time at the Edmonton Space & Science Centre–aphostrophe–s ham radio station. He also had a keen interest in genealogical studies, tracing the Poitras family line and served as a member of Edmonton–aphostrophe–s La Socit Gnalogique du Nord-Ouest. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus.
On April 20, 2019, Ben and Ann celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary surrounded by family, complete with a big cake and a brief speech by him. It was a special day for all of us. At the last, while his 98 years had well diminished his physical powers, his mind was sharp to the end.
A Funeral Mass will take place at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 210 Haddow Close NW, Edmonton, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. Interment will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery, 14611 Mark Messier Trail, Edmonton.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.