EMIL JOSEPH DESMARAIS - April 12, 1919 - April 12, 2014 - WINOOSKI - Emil Joseph Desmarais, of Winooski, passed away peacefully during the early minutes of his 95th birthday at the home of his son, Robert, in Essex. He was born on April 12, 1919, in Fairfax, the fourth of nine children of Adelard and Eugenie (Samson) Desmarais. At age 12 he moved with his family to Montreal. At the outbreak of W.W.II he returned to Vermont and enlisted in the 11th Airborne Division and attended paratrooper training in North Carolina. While waiting for his bus after a two week furlough in Montreal, he stopped for dinner at Hotel Laurier and fell for the pretty waitress who served him, Emma LeBlanc. She wrote to him throughout the war as he served in New Guinea, Manila, and the Philippine Islands, where he was wounded by a Japanese mortar shell. His division was the first to land in Okinawa after Japan's surrender, escorting General Douglas MacArthur. He married Emma on Jan. 19, 1946, at Montreal's St. James Cathedral. He joined the Vermont Army National Guard, spending four years there before transferring to the Vermont Air National Guard where he became an aircraft welder, retiring as a Master Sergeant with 33 years of service. After his retirement, Emil and Emma traveled throughout most of the United States in their motor home, eventually settling in Eustis, Fla., during the winters. Emil leaves his son, Robert Desmarais and daughter-in-law, Cathi; grandchildren, Jason Desmarais and wife, Emma, Jonathan Desmarais, Jessica Spinelli, Jill Quong and husband, Johnathan, Michael Desmarais, and Liza Desmarais; stepgrandchildren, Devin Brown, and Alexandra Wisehart and husband, Ben; seven great-grandchildren and stepgreat-grandchildren; and special friend, Barbara Frechette. Emil was preceded in death by his beloved daughter, Mary Jean Spinelli, in 1999; by Emma, the love of his life and his wife of 63 years, in 2009; as well as all of his brothers and sisters. Visiting hours will be Tuesday, April 15, 2014, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 132 Main St., in Winooski. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 11 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Winooski. Interment will follow in St. Francis Xavier Cemetery. Online condolences may be made at www.lavignefuneralhome.com
. In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates memorial contributions to Purple Heart
s Reunited, PO Box 2121, Georgia, VT 05468.