Funeral Services Set for Long Time Cajun Musician and Record Producer, Elton "Bee" Cormier

April 24, 2018

 

Church Point, LA - A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church for Mr. Elton 'Bee' Cormier, 84, who passed away on Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 7:25 PM at Acadia-St. Landry Hospital. Msgr. Jefferson Deblanc, Pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, will be the Celebrant of the Mass. Burial will take place in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery on Hwy. 35.

 

Mr. Bee was the son of the late Willie Cormier and the former Bertha Venable. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Drussella David Cormier of Church Point, LA; three daughters, Bonnie Cormier Fontenot of Church Point, Susie Cormier Robinson and husband Kenneth of Lawtell and Germaine Cormier Robinson and husband Steven of Church Point; one son, Barry Lee Cormier and wife Yvonne of Church Point; six grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; and his two favorite pups, Bijou and Boogie.

 

He was preceded in death by his parents; one grandson, Matthew Ian Cormier; one sister, Gladys Sonnier and one brother, Melvin Cormier.

 

The family requests that visiting hours be observed at Guidry Funeral Home on Tuesday, April 24, from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM and continue on Wednesday from 8:00 AM until the time of services. A rosary will be recited in the funeral home Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM by Fr. Mitchell Guidry.

 

On February 18, 1934, Elton “Bee” Cormier was born near Sunset, raised in the Peach Bloom community near Church Point and graduated from Church Point High School. Cormier is a self-taught musician: At the age of five, he purchased two harmonicas for 25 cents and learned to play the instrument within a week. His brother bought a fiddle which he also learned to play. Later, he learned how to play a guitar. A neighbor gave his family a graph-a-phone along with a few records which helped him learn some songs. Finally, he bought and taught himself to play a lap steel guitar.

 

Cormier had a passionate desire to find ways to keep Cajun music popular with the youth of Acadiana. He recalled from his youth that the Catholic nuns would often read quotes from the bible and one he remembered was from Proverbs Chapter 22 Verse 6: “If you teach a young person to do something when he is young, when he gets older, he will still do it.” With that in mind, he started the band The Church Point Playboys with Alfred Carriere on accordion, Melvin Cormier (his brother) on the fiddle, Ernest “Bee” Venable on the guitar, Johnnie Richard on the drums, and he on the steel guitar.

 

During his active life, Cormier helped out many young musicians. He asked a young accordion player Jimmie Dale Venable to join the band and he played for about one year until someone then hired him for another group. Then he got another young accordion player named Felton Lejeune who later also started his own band. He aided a very young Reggie Matte (his grandfather played the accordion which was a big help to him) who became an exceptionally good accordion player. Matte also helped many other young musicians learn to play the accordion. When Matte finished school, Cormier took in Terry Cormier who played for a while then went on to another band. When Matte finished college he came back with Cormier’s band and played for several years then he went with another band. Matte played with Cormier for 20 years.

 

Later, Cormier helped Jason Frey get started as a musician and played with him for several years. Dr. R. L. Savoy asked Cormier to join the newly formed CFMA Chapter and help Eunice Mayor Curtis Joubert promote Cajun music and culture. They sought ways to raise money. Andrew Jagneaux came up with the idea to sell t-shirts made with an emblem. The membership of the CFMA Chapter was still not growing fast enough so Cormier made a proposal that he would record a 45 rpm record and select an unknown accordion musician to do a record every six months to get the area Cajuns to understand that the group was promoting young Cajun musicians. The DJ’s of area radio stations played these recordings on their programs and let their audience know this was a program that would help young musicians. Alley Young was the first to record under this wonderful program. Later, other musicians were selected to back him up.

 

In 1973, Cormier produced a historic album to promote the Church Point Centennial and in 1976 produced an album called Cajun Heritage which consisted of all French Cajun hymns sung by Father Albert Nunez and the Cajun Choir, with music by Reggie Matte on accordion, Barry Lee Cormier on drums, Kenneth David on guitar and Robert Sonnier on bass guitar.

 

Aside from his astounding musical career, Mr. Bee was the Justice of the Peace in Acadia Parish-Ward 3 for 34 years and also worked for Theo Daigle & Bros. Hardware in many capacities over a 46 year period.

 

Personal condolences may be sent to the Cormier family at www.guidryfuneralhome.com. Guidry Funeral Home, 219 N. Broadway St., Church Point, LA is in charge of final arrangements.

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