Noel “Chris” Ernest Joseph Black, CD, RCAF (Retired) passed away on February 7, 2021, in his 92nd year. He was predeceased by his parents Clayton (1906-1999) and Marcelle (née Gauthier) (1906-2000), sisters Ida May (1997), Claire (2018, Jack Welsh) and baby sisters Jacquelyn (1932) and Annette (1944). Left to mourn him are his wife of 62 years, Jennifer (nee Braddy), sons Dean (Cathy Berry) and Chris, Jr. (Laura Letourneau), as well as his daughter Kim (Glen Dallaire). Also, he leaves behind his loving sisters Jeannine (Peter Pecaric) and Margaret (Gerry Boucher) along with countless cousins, nephews, nieces, and his grandchildren Jennalee (Nick Kwiatkowski) and Katelynn (Matthew Fairbridge), Justin (Laurel Axten) and Emily (Brandon Boorman), and a great-grandchild Sophia Kwiatkowski.
Chris was born in Timmins, on Christmas Day, into a large loving French-Canadian family. He was the best “big brother” on whom his four doting sisters constantly called upon. At 13 his big band trumpet talents were rewarded with an invitation to join a local swing orchestra. His Uncle Arnold’s wartime service as a navigator (437 Squadron) inspired Chris to join the Air Cadets, and, later, to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Chris’ undeniable dashing deportment and boxing fitness explained an invitation he received to serve with the Tri-Service Precision Drill Squad; a very public ceremonial-focused important Canadian Forces mission. The 100-man guard performed alongside such stars as Jimmy Durante at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. Soon thereafter, he served in Baden-Baden, Germany, joining the RCAF band, one day sharing the stage with the famous Sauter-Finegan band, circa 1955. A posting to Montreal in 1957-’58 led to a magical meeting with a very pretty RCAF airwoman named Jennifer, who had just emigrated from England. They soon married, and headed off to Whitehorse, returning to southern Ontario (Clinton) in 1964 with three children in tow. Postings to Washington, D.C., Kapuskasing, ON and, finally Toronto, ON followed before Chris retired from military service after a fascinating wide-ranging 25-year career, in 1974. The dissolution of his beloved RCAF on 1 February 1968 contributed to his decision to start anew, and retirement to Goderich, Ontario provided him the chance to devote more time to his other passions – family and music.
Chris had created a 9-piece ensemble, called “Chris Black and the Swinging Brass” earlier in Clinton, Ontario. Tens of thousands flocked to dances, over many years, especially during his time in Clinton (1964-1967) when the band played the Village Inn in Grand Bend, eight shows per week all summer long. The band’s big sound and mastery of the “Top 40” and everything by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, filled dance halls at every stop, even while big-ticket names like Ronnie Hawkins competed along the Grand Bend strip. Chris’ music career allowed him the opportunity to meet many interesting folks along the way, including Burl Ives, The Irish Rovers, and Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion).
After retirement, Chris and Jennifer settled in Goderich, ON and just as his father Clayton had done, they bought and managed a corner store for more than twenty years. Chris revived the “Swinging Brass” soon thereafter, playing almost every weekend, year-round for many more years. Band performances aided numerous charities and fund-raising events, and Chris often gave young musicians a chance to share the stage. Chris played for many weddings in the southwestern Ontario area and regularly played for the GDCI formal. His golf game was handicapped by a pronounced slice, but he loved watching his three children learning how to play, nevertheless. In fact, he beamed with pride on learning about all their accomplishments. Chris’ love for music was unmatched, save for the adoration he held for Jennifer, his wife. Owing to COVID-19 restrictions there will be no funeral service. A family gathering will be held later in the spring. A tribute video has been linked here for your viewing: Chris Black Tribute
Messages of condolence can be left on the W. G. Young Funeral website (Stratford) or via Facebook.
Cremation has occurred. Friends and family are invited to consider a donation to the RCAF Association – https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/12124 or to their favorite charity, in memory of Noel (Chris) Ernest Joseph Black
The family wishes to thank the staff of the Alexandra Marine and General Hospital, CCAC and St. Elizabeth Health Care, as well as to their family and friends for their support and love.
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Stratford, Ontario N5A 5T7
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