LEWISTON — Raymond A. Desmarais, 85, of Lisbon, was born July 27, 1932, and passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones on Friday, Jan. 26, at Woodlands Memory Care in Lewiston. The birth and death of this great man, however, is not nearly as relevant as all the days and nights that he lived to the fullest in between.

Ray began his life in Lewiston, attending St. Mary’s Catholic grammar school through the eighth grade when he decided enough was enough, and quite literally jumped out the window to enroll in the school of “hard knocks.” The free spirit was immediately smitten when he met the love of his life, Gilberte Tremblay, who made it known she thought he was a “show off.” Ray approached this knowledge like he approached most things in life; he grabbed her by the hand and threw her around the dance floor. Knowing he had to secure such a treasure, he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served as a medic. The two married on June 5, 1954, at St. Peter & Paul Church. In 1955, they welcomed their only child Susan, whom Ray doted on, teaching her to stand tall from a blue collar corner in a white collar world.

His bravado and ability to talk himself out of any situation contributed to years of success as a salesman. He began a string of sales jobs, using his charisma and quick wit to fine-tune his skills— even selling a vacuum cleaner to a one-room cabin owner with a dirt floor—before settling down as a successful car salesman. In the 1970s, he was the first manager of Brunswick Toyota, overseeing its opening and was a top seller for years. Following his time there, he continued to sell cars independently. He began a late career driving trucks for Union Camp, where he retired in the late 1980s.

Ray was the life of the party. His contagious smile and booming laughter filled a room. Always the entertainer, Ray could be found with his guitar singing party favorites, playing bartender or showing off his famous impression of Elvis. His knack for storytelling engaged everyone he was around, and his antics made for great fodder.

In later years, he enjoyed following his granddaughters’ many activities, and was proud to be known as Planet Cheer All Stars’ “Cheer Pepere.” He was a regular at local hangouts, including Tim Hortons and Rolly’s Diner where he and his friends met regularly to share a cup of coffee and story of the day. Ray couldn’t believe he lived to be a great-grandfather, twice over, and loved spending time with his great-grandchildren. He was also a faithful member of Prince of Peace Parish.

He is survived by his only child, daughter Susan and husband, Michael Fortier, of Lewiston; three granddaughters, Serena Fortier of Los Angeles, Calif., Tiffany Fortier of Lewiston, Deneka Deletetsky and husband, Gard, of Auburn; great-grandchildren, Zane and Eden; nieces Linda Gelinas and Marlene Godin; eight great-nieces and nephews and several special cousins and dear friends.

He is predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Gilberte V. Desmarais; his parents and siblings; sister in-law and brother-in-law Monette and Henry Jalbert; niece and godchild, Diane Robitaille and her husband, Bert.

The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the staff at Interim Heathcare, the Woodlands Memory Care and Beacon Hospice for the wonderful service they provided to our beloved Ray. Condolences, donations, and a video tribute may be found online at www.albert-burpee.com.

Raymond A. Desmarais

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