Augustine A. Etchegary (Gus) of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, born May 28, 1924 in St. Lawrence, NL, died on May 7, 2023. He is the son of the late Louis and Philomena (Slaney) Etchegary. Gus is survived by his wife Kaoukab (Kay), sons Glenn (Katrina) and Grant (Vincenza) and grandchildren Marcus (Jennifer), Kurt (Rebecca), Kaitlin (Cody), Samantha, Mikaela, and great grandchildren Ryker, Adelaide, and Lyla. Pre-deceased by his first wife, and the mother of Glenn and Grant, Nora (Fitzpatrick), sisters Kathleen (Giovannini), Florence (Poynter), Isabelle and Louise, and brothers Theophilus and Louis, as well as nieces Creusa, Adele, Joy and nephew Donald. Gus is also survived by his brother-in-law, Daniel Diab in Lebanon, and his Boulos step-children John (Susan), Stephen (Peggy) and Donna (Mark) and grandchildren Christopher (Erin) and daughter Joni, Alan (Sarah), Stephanie (Bernie) and son Ben, Gregory and Andrew. Gus also leaves his nieces and nephews Kathleen (Etchegary) Kirk, Gemma and Albert Giovannini, Thomas and Robert Poynter as well as Alexander, Zachary, Kate, Patrick, Alison, Jennifer, Joel, Cameron, Cynthia, Stephanie, Henry, Annabel, Gregory, Gina, James, Jolene, Jenna and Megan.
Gus was blessed to have lived a wonderful and full life. His identity has been intertwined with the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador for over seventy years. Though he did not set out to be, Gus became known as a fish warrior. With the pioneering spirit of the Basque in his blood, however, it may have been futile to sail away from such a date with destiny. Gus was plant manager, company president, and a strong community advocate. In all these positions he has been a passionate independent thinker, couching his opinions and beliefs in his broader experiences and commitment to his province. Gus has steadfastly and strongly expressed his concern for the demise of the province’s fishery and worried that our unique economic, social, and cultural fabric would be lost to future generations. This message was also conveyed in his book, Empty Nets which serves as an eye witness account of his experiences in the history of our diminished resource.
In the early 1970s, Gus spearheaded the creation of the Save Our Fisheries Association (SOFA) which brought national and international attention to the issue of foreign over-fishing in Canadian waters. In 1977, it was successful in convincing the Canadian government to extend its economic zone to 200 miles. Gus continued his resource management advocacy as a Commissioner at the International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF) and later NAFO. During fifteen years of working through these international agencies he crusaded for Canada to extend jurisdiction beyond 200 miles to manage and protect the fishing grounds off the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. Gus was proud to play a role in these organizations and respected the work of scientists who presented their stock assessments to the various committees. He spoke often of Dr. Wilfred Templeman and other scientists whose research contributed greatly to an understanding of our fishery.
In the 2008 Spring Convocation at Memorial University, Gus was awarded an honorary degree of laws for his relentless fisheries advocacy in the province. In 2017 he was named “Senior of Distinction” by the provincial government.
Gus was extremely proud of his time playing for his beloved St. Lawrence Laurentians. He also played hockey into his 70’s with his sons and Fishery Product colleagues. Growing up in St. Lawrence Gus played soccer, and during the 50’s when he worked in Burin, he would walk and boat to St. Lawrence twice a week making sure he did not miss a practice. For his continued involvement at the provincial and national level, he was inducted into the St. Lawrence Soccer Hall of Fame, the Newfoundland Soccer Hall of Fame, and the Newfoundland Sports Hall of Fame and in 2007, was the first person from this province to be inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.
Gus was just seventeen when the American navy destroyer Truxton and the supply ship, the Pollux ran aground close to St. Lawrence. He always remembered being directed by his father to build a fire to warm the sailors who were rescued. As the last remaining witness to that tragedy, he often spoke of the event and its impact on him and the people in the community who opened their hearts and homes to the survivors.
Gus also enjoyed sailing with his favourite first-mate, Kay. In 1991, the two-man crew sailed La Reine Basque for forty-two days around the province. It was a “cruise of a lifetime” taking them into outports and communities, many of which Gus was familiar with from his early days in the fishery.
Besides his family, the fishery and sports, Gus enjoyed music especially Louis Armstrong and Charlie Kunz. During his training at the U.S. Argentia Naval Station, he and his band would regularly travel to the Newfoundland Hotel. When asked recently about his singing role he replied “Oh, I was more of a crooner”. He was also the ship’s musician on a trip to Saglek Bay, Labrador, in 1942 extracting graphite for the war effort. He serenaded the crew with one of three harmonicas that sit on his desk today.
Gus’s family extends gratitude to staff at the Family Practice, Emergency Services, and 4SouthA at the Health Science complex.
Cremation has taken place.
Visitation will take place at Carnell’s Funeral Home, 329 Freshwater Road, on Tuesday May 9th, from 7-9 p.m. and on Wednesday, May 10th, from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Thursday May 11th, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. from the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Interment will take at Mount Cecilia’s Cemetery, St. Lawrence on Friday May 12th at 11:00 a.m.
The Mass will be livestreamed and can be viewed via this link:https://www.thebasilica.net/live/
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the St. Lawrence Historical Society.
St. Lawrence Historical Advisory Committee
PO BOX 175, St. Lawrence, NL A0E 2V0
Carnell’s Funeral Home
329 Freshwater Road
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Basilica of St. John the Baptist