Henri David ‘Hank’ Ethier, Jr., 87, died peacefully on Sunday, Aug. 15 at home after a hard fought battle with Alzheimer’s disease, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born in Valley Falls, Rhode Island on June 14, 1923, the firstborn child of Henri D. and Amelia Ethier. He was raised in Pawtucket, RI.
After graduating from high school, he went to Providence College on a dual sports scholarship, in baseball and basketball. He excelled in basketball and held a record at Boston Gardens for the most points scored in a college basketball game, 36. His college career was interrupted by World War II, and he served as a pilot in Europe, achieving the rank of First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps. At the end of the war, he returned to Providence College and graduated with a degree in Education.
At age 50, he returned to college on a National Science Foundation Grant. After three summers at Union College in Schenectady, NY, he earned his Master’s degree in Earth Science.
Mr. Ethier married his high school sweetheart Ruth Hunters in 1944. They moved to California in 1950. During the “lean” years he worked many jobs, including, cannery inspector, tutor, postal employee, bus driver and camellia nurseryman. For many years he was the manager of the Riverbank swimming pool during the summer months. Having lost his brother to drowning, he wanted to ensure that all of his children were good swimmers.
He was a science teacher and basketball coach at Oakdale Joint Union High School for 36 years, retiring in 1983.
He was a Charter Member of Oakdale Golf and Country Club and was the first club champion in 1961. One of the highlights of his golfing years was the hole-in-one he made on March 28, 1986.
He belonged to St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church. He was chairman of the Riverbank Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 and Riverbank Man of the Year in 1996. He and his family were recipients of the Community Hospice Julio R & Aileen Gallo Leadership Award in 2004. He was a member of the Riverbank Historical Society.
His life was full of love, laughter and family. The family thanks the caring and compassionate employees of Community Hospice, especially for the love, respect and care that Donnie gave to Mr. Ethier.
He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Ruth; sons, David (Karen) Ethier, Jorge (Kelley) Ethier, all of Sonora, Craig (Ramona) Ethier of Modesto; daughters, Meryl Britton Snider of Escalon, Janis Fellows of Modesto, Heidi Ethier of Oakdale, Robin (Richard) Sandoval of Modesto; sister, Theresa Paré of Pawtucket, RI; 15 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Armand Ethier; and son-in-laws, Dennis Snider and Mike Britton.
A rosary and mass will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church, Riverbank. A celebration of life will be held at 11a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 19 at Riverbank Memorial Chapel, 3131 Santa Fe, Riverbank.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Community Hospice, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto, CA 95356.