Friends of Derek Descoteau remember him as a great guy and fondly recall the good times they spent together.
Descoteau’s murder at the age of 20 three years ago on May 20, 2016 in Chemainus was an incredible shock to all who knew him well and the community as a whole.
“Always smiling was definitely the main key,” said Rob Jeeves.
“He was one of the nicest kids we knew,” added Bret Joneson.
“I knew him through high school,” noted Sterling Tabler. “Always one of the boys. You have that close group of people and he was one of them.”
The three gathered at the memorial bench on the Crofton Seawalk on the third anniversary of Descoteau’s death to reflect on how he enriched their lives. They even brought along Descoteau’s dog Harvey, whom Jeeves picked up from the pound the day after Descoteau died and immediately made him part of his family.
“I don’t go anywhere without Harvey, my best friend for sure,” Jeeves pointed out.
As horrible as the circumstances surrounding Descoteau’s death were, the friends make it a point not to think about that and accentuate the positives about his life as time has passed.
“I went to school since elementary school with him,” observed Jeeves. “Outside of that, I worked with him at the Cow Bay Sawmill.”
It was quite a scene at the mill when more than 30 people on shift at the time got together in a circle after learning about Descoteau’s death.
“There wasn’t a single dry eye there,” said Jeeves. “He did have a huge place in people’s hearts at the mill.”
“I probably only knew him for 10 years,” Joneson explained. “When we were younger there was always a group of us that were hanging out, half of us were going to school and half of us were working. I lived near Mount Prevost School. Next thing you know we had a big posse there.”
Jeeves said Descoteau’s kindness knew no bounds. “If he can help you, he will help you.”
The guys all shared a variety of common interests.
“I treated him like a brother, like I do with these guys right here,” said Joneson.
“We liked to ride dirt bikes, both of us,” noted Tabler, who ironically was favouring his leg from a dirt bike injury during our conversation.
Descoteau was also known for figuring things out if he didn’t already know how to do something. “You couldn’t tell him he couldn’t do anything,” said Jeeves.
“Every time we talk about him we have more smiles on our faces than thinking about the bad things. We never talked about negative stuff. The first couple of months, it was everyone’s shoulder to cry on. We never thought the sad part out of this. We all thought how good he was. All of us boys got closer when that happened.”
“Before his passing, I never heard of anyone say anything bad about him,” offered Joneson.
Descoteau had quite an entrepreneurial spirit.
“He was always working, saving up,” noted Jeeves. “He worked hard for everything he wanted.”
That included some day owning a house and he had a love of cars, including the trademark Toyota Soarer single turbo he owned before his death, and always figured out what was necessary to work on them.
“He was right into cars – he definitely knew a lot more than we did,” said Joneson.
“He was always buying and selling cars,” added Jeeves. “He’s had about 40 vehicles bare minimum.”
As rough as it’s been for the guys to lose a dear friend, they can’t imagine what it’s been like for family members.
“Just condolences for his family, too,” said Tabler. “How bad we feel for them.”
“I still think about him every single day,” said Jeeves.
Gone but never forgotten.