On February 27, 2019, a few weeks shy of his 91st birthday, Ernest George “Keoki” Lake bid Aloha to his family and friends to join the big jam session in the sky.
George is survived by his sons Randy and Robert; daughter Debbie (Ron) Willis; granddaughters Shannon (Shawn) Fuhrer and their daughter Hailey, Alanna (Jaron) Williams and their daughters Amia, Jayla and Joelle; sisters Marguerite Helps and Hilary (Rick) Matheson; brother Brad (Christine) Lake; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Bill and Ann Michajluk; and his very special friend Laurette Chayer.
His loving wife, Mary, predeceased him after 60 wonderful years of marriage, as well as his parents, Ernie Lake and Margie Breach, and a younger brother, Douglas.
George leaves behind numerous friends in the Edmonton big band and Hawaiian music community, and in worldwide music associations.
Born and raised in Edmonton, George developed an interest in music at an early age and quickly gained the respect and admiration of his musical peers. He specialized on the Hawaiian Steel Guitar, but he regularly played many other instruments as well. From 1949 to 1952, George hosted a weekly radio program “Hawaiian Sunset”, which was broadcasted on CKUA and the CBC radio network. He played bass for years with many of Edmonton’s top musical legends, including Tommy Banks, the Trocadero Band, Giovanni Quartet and Brass Trend. In 1991, he founded the Trocadero Orchestra, an 18-piece big band that still performs on a regular basis.
George’s Hawaiian Steel Guitar career included one LP and 6 CDs. His LP, released in 1983, featured him playing all the instruments. As a lover of Polynesian music, he visited Hawaii 28 times, the South Pacific 6 times, and regularly performed with top Hawaiian and Polynesian musicians.
In November 2007, George was honoured to perform at the 80th anniversary of CKUA radio and, in the spring of 2017, he was inducted into Edmonton’s Legends of Music.
George enjoyed a 34-year musical retail career, initially as the keyboard/musical instrument manager with Heintzman and Co., then as a musical sales associate at the Hudson’s Bay Company, and finally as the major appliance manager at Woodward’s Westmount. In 1966 he held the distinction of selling the most Electrohome organs in Canada. After retiring at age 55, George continued to be active, teaching Hawaiian Steel Guitar and Ukelele, and leading several Hawaiian music groups.
George and Mary were active for 25 years with Scouts Canada as youth leaders. Both were later asked to instruct new Scout leaders, which they did for five additional years. They were honoured to receive the Scout Medal of Merit awards for their long service.
A celebration of George’s life and musical accomplishments will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 1:00 pm at the Highlands Golf Club (6603 Ada Blvd.).
In lieu of flowers and gifts, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or to the CKUA Radio Network.
Aloha Keoki, a ke ola nei kau mele!