Raceland man’s time, skills, smiles turn negatives into positives

‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter cleared
December 16, 2014
Tigers draw Music City Bowl
December 16, 2014
‘Stand Your Ground’ shooter cleared
December 16, 2014
Tigers draw Music City Bowl
December 16, 2014


It’s a word you’ll hear quite a bit during the holiday season.

It is the season of giving, after all.

Well, for one Raceland man, the season of giving never ends.

Whether he’s giving his time or giving his skills, Buck Theriot has dedicated his life to giving those lucky enough to come in contact with a smile and much more.

A long time worker in the electrical business, one of the first instances of Theriot taking it upon himself to better the lives of others came following an unfortunate turn of events for a co-worker.

When Buck served as a superintendent for SLECA in 1990, a good friend of his working as a lineman for the company got electrically burned working on a transmission line off of Savanne Road in Houma. The lineman, Carl Mott, survived, but endured months in a Baton Rouge burn center following the accident.

“He got into a flash on a 115,000 volt transmission line, and he was burned pretty severely. It was a pretty horrific incident,” Buck said. “It really bothered me.

It really affected me.”

Buck said he second guessed what could have been done to avoid the incident for a long time after and attributed it to the lack of safety training linemen received before being sent out into the field. After lots of soul searching and around the same time he accepted a job with the Louisiana Association of Electrical Cooperatives as the state Safety and Training Director, he decided something needed to be done.

“Being able to use that opportunity, I wrote a training manual for utility linemen,

and what it did was it allowed us to train our people and be able to certify them as linemen. It was a four-year course they had to go through. Part of it hands on, part of it text,” Buck explained.

He said he felt there needed to be a culture change among linemen to incorporate safety as much as technique into training.

“One of the things I feel very proud of is I was able to do that, and we trained hundreds of guys all over the state and actually in other states too in that training program,” Buck said. “It allowed us to take the combined hands on training and safety into one program. It wasn’t two different issues. It was the same issue.”

Theriot’s training talents expanded to gulf coast states as well as many other states across the south – helping keep scores of linemen safely returning to their families. He became chairman of the Southern Area Instructors Association before becoming chairman of the National Association of Utility Safety and Training Professionals.

That meant trips all around to teach training classes – trips he and his wife Earlene Theriot enjoyed to take together.

While out on those trips, the reputation of Buck’s fun-loving and outgoing Cajun personally proceeded him thanks to his ice-breaking, funny Cajun stories to begin every training session.

“I found one of the biggest things was I needed to do something to get the guys’ attention,” Buck said. “A lot of them especially at first didn’t really know me, and those guys are hard-working, rough guys. They’re working in the field. They’re not comfortable sitting in a classroom, so what I do is I tell a Cajun story to kind of break the ice, get them laughing, get them awake. Well, it didn’t take long where I better have a Cajun story when I went there, because if I didn’t say anything, they’d tell me, ‘You didn’t tell us our Cajun story.'”

The Cajun stories became so famous, he was often asked to begin after-hours dinner sessions with his tales – admittedly not his own stories – but still hilarious none the less.

“I said my stories are a lot better if I had a drink before I started telling them. And they’re even better than that if you’ve had a drink,” Buck said with a laugh. “What I did find out, it’s easier to tell Cajun stories to people away from this area. If you tell Cajun stories to people around here, you got to be good. But people away from here, you can kind of make do with it and make them laugh.”

All the while, Buck spent many of his weekends giving in a different way, cooking up large amounts of jambalaya for fundraisers – mostly at church events.

“One of the hobbies I had and I still have, not quite as much as I used to, is I enjoy cooking, and I like to cook jambalaya in big, black iron kettles,” Buck said. “It started off cooking for C YO groups at the church to make money for the kids. We’d cook jambalaya and sell it after church on Sundays.”

Theriot retired in 2012, right about the time a tragedy struck Buck’s life one again – this time much closer to his heart. His 18-year-old grandson, Wade Theriot, suffering from type 1 juvenile diabetes, died.

Once again Buck only knew how to do one thing – give. Summoning his long-time passion for cooking fundraisers, he raised more than $7,000 last year for Louisiana JDRF, a group dedicated to cure youth type 1 diabetes, and has continuing raising money for it in 2014 as well.

Many members of the Theriot family participated in November’s Walk to Cure Diabates at Audubon Park in New Orleans. He said he still does about four cooking fundraisers per year including one coming up for a friend whose wife had ALS.

Until then, Buck has utilized his skills serving up big Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

“We usually have between about 45 and 50 [people], so I always cook a big chicken sausage gumbo. Turkey and ham, rice dressing, green beans, all that kind of stuff, and then [Earlene] cooks the desserts,” Buck said.

Like many residents of the bayou region, giving is in Buck Therior’s blood. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘Well, it didn’t take long where I better have a Cajun story when I went there, because if I didn’t say anything, they’d tell me, ‘You didn’t tell us our Cajun story.'”

Buck Theriot

Regarding the electricians he teaches through the National Association of Utility Safety and Training Professionals

Buck Theriot (top left) and his wife Earline (next from left) join the rest of Team Wade at the Walk to Cure Diabetes in November. Their grandson, Wade Theriot, died from juvenile diabetes two years ago.


Buck Theriot opens up his speech at a Louisiana Association of Electrical Cooperatives event with a funny Cajun joke.