Leaders, family mourn former parish president

Government officials and former constituents are among those who joined family members mourning the passing of a former Terrebonne parish president and state representative, who made a lasting impression on the lives of many local residents.

Robert “Bobby” Bergeron died Tuesday, Oct. 13, at the age of 77 in Houston where he was, according to friends and family members, receiving treatment for heart problems.

The significance of Bergeron’s public service and civic contributions is acknowledged by people who saw him as a mentor and ally, as well those with whom he sometimes disagreed.

“He served Terrebonne Parish admirably in many areas,” said the current parish president, Michel Claudet. “He will be missed.”

To many – particularly those living in Terrebonne’s bayou communities – it was Bergeron’s heart that made a difference in their lives.

A native of the Boudreaux Canal area, at the southern end of Chauvin and the northern part of Cocodrie, Bergeron has been lauded throughout his career and after death as a man who stayed true to his roots.

Following visitation and a funeral Monday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Chauvin, he was laid to rest at the St. Elie Cemetery in that same community.

“Bobby wore his Cajun heritage like a badge,” said Reggie Dupre, former state senator and now director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, noting that as one of the team transitioning parish government from a police jury to a consolidated government with a parish council Bergeron made certain the bayou communities were represented.

“It was in 1987 that I first got to know Bobby,” Dupre said “He quickly became one of my first mentors.”

Bergeron served as the police jury’s District F representative from 1980 through 1984, and on the parish council, representing District H, from 1984 through 1992, the year he was elected to the state House of Representatives.

As a state representative in the next decade, Dupre said, Bergeron was “one of a few legislators defending the commercial fishing industry at a time most lawmakers were going the other way.”

He served one term in the Legislature and, in 2000, was elected parish president, supporting and working toward having Terrebonne sponsor its first local hurricane protection tax, enacted in 2001.

“This 1/4 cent sales tax is what set the foundation for Terrebonne’s success in moving forward with levee protection ahead of the federal government,” Dupre said.

Bergeron was a driving force behind the parish’s eventual decision to move into the seven-story former Bank One building at Barrow and West Main streets, now called the Government Tower.

“That was an important move for the parish government,” said state Rep. Gordon Dove, R-Houma, who along with other officials referred to Bergeron’s passing as “a great loss for Terrebonne Parish.”

Councilman Greg Hood Sr. was a Houma police officer when Bergeron was parish president, and shared similar comments.

“I have worked under every parish president since consolidation, I respected each and every one,” Hood said. “My heart goes out to his family on their loss. May God bless his soul and watch over him and his family.” •

Bobby Bergeron