Progressing Country Music Star Eloie Richard Passes Away

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Eloie Richard, who was at the beginning of a promising country music career, passed away unexpectedly on Monday, June 19th.

By Lura Jackson

 The St. Croix Valley was collectively stunned on Monday morning as word began to spread that Eloie Richard of St. Stephen had unexpectedly passed away. Richard, whom at 44 was embarking with full steam on a promising country music career, was well-known by both sides of the river for his musical ability and unfailingly generous nature. 

“[Eloie] was one of the most humble, kindest, gentle souls on the planet,” expressed Jayna Smith of Calais. Richard played at Smith’s wedding as well as at the funeral of one of her brothers. “I can only hope my boy grows up to be that kind of man.” Smith commended Richard’s singing ability, stating that anytime she hears specific songs, she always thinks, “I like it better when Eloie sings it.”

As the youngest of 10 children from a family based in Oak Haven, just outside of St. Stephen, Richard was submerged in music from a young age. His siblings and parents had a strong musical affinity and they would frequently sing and play together. “I don’t remember ever not having music in my family,” Richard said in a video from March. “I always looked up to all my brothers and sisters. They played in a rock band, they were cool.” 

In the video, Richard’s mother described the moment the family found out that he could sing. “I was sitting in the rocking chair and could hear somebody singing,” she recalled. She told Eloie’s siblings to get him to sing with them. “Boy, did he ever surprise the whole family. He had a voice.”

Larry Saunders was among those who called Richard a close friend. The pair met originally due to Saunders’s father playing in a band with Richard’s sister and brother; later they formed an acoustic duet and played kitchen parties and fundraisers for local community members. Saunders describes Richard as the “nicest guy you could meet” and said “he was like a brother to me.”

Earlier this year, Richard released his first single – “Middle of the Night” – written by Richard and his nephew, Shawn. Richard was in the process of actively promoting the single, which was the second highest download on CD Baby. He competed in CBC’s Searchlight competition and was preparing to play at the upcoming Campobello Fog Festival. He had recently shared the stage with The Good Brothers, Julian Austin, Chris Cummings, Doug Stone, Trooper, and the Barra MacNeils.

“It all happened really quickly,” said Rob Patry, host of Rob Patry Live. Patry featured Richard twice on his show, including one of his last public performances on June 4th. “He was really big, and getting bigger.” Patry said he’d been doing a show for Canada’s 150th anniversary, and he had the mayor of St. Stephen booked but he needed a musical guest. He messaged Richard at 11:30 at night and immediately got a positive reply. “It’s not like my show was going to help him – but I asked him to come, and he said ‘yes’. He was so nice.” At the time, Richard was having difficulties with his appendix, and according to Patry he was aware that doctors had found additional complications. “He knew he wasn’t well, but he did a great job on the show.”

“This is very much a tragedy,” Patry continued. “It’s a good lesson for all of us. Value your friends, value your family. You could be gone at any moment.”

 Richard’s sudden passing has rocked his family and extended family of friends and community members. A GoFundMe campaign has been established at  www.gofundme.com/team-eloie-richard to assist his wife and three children with immediate expenses.