Bourg man won hearts for his work in South Terrebonne

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A big “E” was painted on the 50-yard line for South Terrebonne’s football playoff opener in honor of one Terrebonne Parish’s beloved residents, Ernest Stoufflett.

A moment of silence was held to remember the 66-year-old who died Nov. 14. As his family stood midfield, STHS football players held up their helmet in respect of the man they knew as Mr. Ernie.

“He was the life of the party,” his wife Gail said. “He made everyone laugh.”

Ernie was one of the founders of the “Tailgators,” a tailgating community supporting South Terrebonne High.

When his daughter, Sara Duthu, was a freshman at STHS in 1996, he joined the STHS Gator Club Board, where he eventually served as president for eight years. He stepped away when heart and kidney issues made it difficult to continue.

But health did not stop him from partying with the “tailgators” every week.

That joy for life drew people to Ernie. He loved poking fun at people out of love.

“If he didn’t pick on you, he didn’t like you,” Sara said. “And he picked on everyone.”

Sara and his son Ernie III recall how much their friends loved their father, speaking highly of his involvement with their sports teams.

“Me and my friends played multiple sports,” Ernie III said. “We always had sports going on, so he would always travel with us. He was always there. Most of my friends will miss him because he was THAT guy.”

Ernie III shared a story that someone passed along at his father’s funeral.

When Ernie III was playing T-ball, his father would run onto the field if one of the youngsters was running the wrong way, pick them up under his arm and run the bases.

“He wanted to win, obviously; but I am more competitive then he was. He always told us it is not about winning always. His main thing was to have a good time,” Ernie III said.

Ernie’s focus did not always revolve around his children when it came to sports. Their father made sure he gave special attention to those who needed it most.

“I am not going to say me and my sister were the best athletes, but for church teams, you had some that were skilled and some that were not. Some of them also came from troubled homes, too. Daddy would focus on them more than my sister or I. He had a passion for helping out those who needed,” Ernie III said. “He would do everything between Holy Rosary and Annunziata.

“We had one team with four good athletes, but he would take along someone who did not have the athleticism and look after them. He was a kind hearted man.”

Sara added, “A lot of the kids also did not have the parental support or guidance like the rest of us. He reached out after them and made sure they did not fall through the cracks where a lot of people would let the troublemakers go.”

Ernie’s good buddy, Phillip Plaisance, told Ernie III one of his father’s best qualities was always being there for his friends and family.

His passion and light-hearted nature drew people in, but his most important side, according to Ernie III and Sara, was his work ethic.

“He was a hard worker. He could work circles around two good workers. He did everything to perfection. That is what he taught our children,” Gail said. “If you do something, do it right. The kids are just like their dad.”

A Delgado Community College graduate and machinist, Ernie worked for Stoufflett Dump Truck Service. However, his most pas-sionate work came on his farm where he took care of cattle and maintained the grounds.

Ernie taught his children to be passionate about their work.

“Daddy showed me how to work when I was 12-years-old and how it was to make money. He taught us to have pride in your work so you can go back and say, ‘I did this,’” Ernie III said.

Ernie III said most people wouldn’t recognize their father on the pasture because of how quickly he switched into work mode.

“He would go to the pasture with us, and you would wonder where that (fun-loving) man went to. I am not saying he went from good to bad,” Ernie III said. “Fun and games were meant for fun and games. Work was meant for work.”

Sara and Ernie III agreed that how hard their father worked was unprecedented.

“I would be on the side of the street holding a sign if not for him,” Ernie III said.

Sara added, “We would not have a passion behind our work.”

When he was not helping children or working on his farm, he played with Sparky, his Jack Russell Terrier.

“He always had time for that dog,” Sara said with a laugh. “He loved the dog more than his kids.”

In his final days, heart problems may have slowed Ernie Stoufflet but it didn’t stop him from loving others.

“He loved his kids, grandkids, family and friends with all of his heart,” Gail said.

Bourg resident Ernest Stoufflet, who died Nov. 14 of heart and kidney problems, is pictured doing the “gator Chomp” with the South Terrebonne High School marching band. Stoufflet was an avid fan of the Gators. He was honored before the team’s first playoff game.