Dr. Clair Ernewein

Posted on Friday, July 14, 2017 14:07 PM

In loving memory of Dr. Clair Ernewein, age 97 years, who passed away in the Dryden Regional Health Centre Friday, July 14th.

Clair was born April 27th, 1920 in Walkerton, ON, the third of four sons born to Joseph and Isabel Ernewein. The family moved to Dryden when Clair was very young. After completing high school he attended St. Boniface College in Winnipeg prior to enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. He was 21 years old.

Clair attended flight school in Goderich, ON and, after only a week of actual flight training, flew his solo flight in a biplane trainer. In preparation for flying fighter aircraft, more training followed in the Harvard trainer. By October of 1941 Clair received his R.C.A.F. wings and was soon drafted to England as a Pilot Flying Officer with 243 Squadron of the R.A.F. He flew Spitfires and served in Italy, Syria, Corsica and France. Clair flew his last operational flight in September of 1944, but his love of flying was sealed and it would remain his passion for the rest of his life. He was licenced to fly privately for 59 years.

After the war Clair returned to St. Boniface College to complete his undergraduate degree. He married Esther Faulkner on July 7, 1948. Just over a week ago, the family had gathered together at camp to celebrate Clair and Esther’s 69th wedding anniversary.

Clair attended The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario at the University of Toronto, graduating in 1954. As an intern, and in the summer months, he worked with Dr. Jeffries in Sioux Lookout where he was often left to practice unsupervised. He started his own practice with Dr. Dutton above the old Wabigoon Drugs, then started Dryden Medical and Dental Clinic with Dr. George Bilsbarrow. Clair retired in November of 1985 and he and Esther spent several winters in Arizona where he became licenced as a glider pilot.

Clair was a faithful member of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church and a First Degree Member of the Knights of Columbus. He belonged to several professional organizations throughout his career, and was a Lifetime Member of the Dryden Lions Club, the Dryden Flying Club and the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association. Clair was the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship for dedicated humanitarian service from the Lions Club International Foundation.

There were many facets to Clair’s personality and, in addition to his passion for flying, he had many interests – fishing, canoeing, house boating, snow machining and golfing, just to name a few. Family always came first; there were frequent family gatherings both at the house and at the camp on Wabigoon Lake. He loved his work as a dental surgeon; he loved people, especially “little people”; and animals, he was always any dog’s “best friend”. He enjoyed being outdoors in the wide-open spaces and sitting at camp watching nature. He could always be heard humming some tune and had a nick-name for just about everyone and everything. “Doc”, as he was affectionately known in the community, will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

Clair was predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Isabel, and his three brothers, Francis, George and Don. He is survived by his wife Esther, his daughter Heather (Don) Compardo and son Bill (Nicole) Ernewein, by eight grandchildren, five great grandchildren, as well as nieces, nephews and other relatives.

A Funeral Mass to celebrate the life of Clair Ernewein will be held Wednesday, July 19th at 11:00 a.m. in St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church with Rev. Alan Campeau officiating.  Interment will follow in the Dryden Cemetery.

If friends desire donations may be made to the Dryden Lions Club or a charity of your choice through the Stevens Funeral Homes P.O. Box 412, Dryden ON P8N 2Z1. Condolences may be posted at www.stevensfuneralhomes.ca.