Community mourns loss of lifelong shepherd of local youth

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February 23, 2016
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February 25, 2016
Schools, state offices closing early due to weather
February 23, 2016
Nicholls’ financial chief resigns
February 25, 2016

When it came to the welfare of the next generation, the word “no” became a foreign language for Clark Bonvillain.

Clark, a native of Daigleville, La., and resident of Houma, La., served on the Terrebonne Parish School Board for 30 years and spent 25 years coaching Babe Ruth Baseball in the area. Clark’s son, Mickey, said his father loved coaching the sport because of the lessons he could impart on the diamond.

“He was able to teach back to the youth the things that his father taught him, which was hard work, the love of the game and God,” Mickey said.

Mickey said Clark’s high school coach described his father as “one of the hardest outs on the field.” While he was a hard out himself, Clark couldn’t stand it when one of his players would miss the easy outs, according to Mickey.

“Always make the easy outs. Those are the ones that always come back to hurt you, the easy ones,” Mickey said.

Clark had just started coaching when he got married to his wife of 51 years, Ellen. According to his spouse, coaching was a familial calling.

“His dad was a coach, and that’s in their blood. His dad is the one that started Babe Ruth ball in Terrebonne Parish. His dad was getting where he couldn’t do it as much, but Clark took over and he coached for 25 years, volunteered for 25 years,” Ellen said.

Clark and Ellen raised three sons together in Houma. The two met at a local Frostop near where both of them worked, Ellen at a telephone office and Clark at a CPA firm.

“I’d walk there for lunch, and he’d come out of the office and we started talking, and that’s how we met. Then we started dating, and six months later, I promise you, we were married,” Ellen said.

Clark and Ellen were inseparable, working together in their accounting and tax services business that operated out of their home.

“We were always very close. We never went off without one another. Actually, he would never go anywhere without me. He couldn’t go to bed. What you call 24/7, that’s how we were,” Ellen said.

Ellen would work the front, meet customers, fill out the piles of tax files then bring them to the back for Clark to work his magic.

“I keep telling him I’m his sexy secretary that’s never paid because we live together all the time, and he made that a big joke about that,” Ellen said.

Aside from his business and the baseball diamond, Clark looked to help the area youths from a leadership position in his school board position, including a stint as president. Mickey said his father spent his time on the board focused on the children and good government.

“Obviously, he was very conservative, so he was a real penny pincher. He always thought you could save money and still give the same quality of education to children,” Mickey said.

Clark’s governmental sense of thrift did not extend to his personal side, though. According to Mickey, his father was always generous with his time, to family, friends and whoever needed help.

“He was a guy who never said ‘no.’ Anytime we asked him for anything, it was always yes, whatever the consequences were. Not only us, but anybody,” the son said.

Mickey said his father was always supportive of all three boys as they grew up. If he had three different events he had to make to see his boys, he would be at all three.

“My dad, he was at our baseball games, he was at our football games, he didn’t miss a thing. I don’t care how far it was to go, how close it was, he was always the first one there. He was a father like no other,” Mickey said.

As his boys became men, Clark continued to nurture his sons’ growth, making sure he talked to them every night about what happened that day in the two arenas he was most passionate about.

“Our dad gave us three boys a call every night. Every night. And it was always talking politics or sports. We heard politics every day and every night,” Mickey said.

However, his energy for supporting the youth never waned; instead it just shifted toward the next generation of Bonvillains, according to Ellen.

“Now we got the grandkids; we have 10 grandchildren, and our third great-grandchild, so he was still doing the same thing, going to dance recitals. We didn’t have girls, but he loved it, just loved it,” Ellen said.

A man dedicated to serving his family, friends and community in the hopes of a better tomorrow, Clark Bonvillain died on Feb. 12 at the age of 75. •

A 30-year Terrebonne Parish School Board member and 25-year Babe Ruth Baseball coach, Clark Bonvillain lived a life devoted to his family and mentoring the children of the “good earth.” Bonvillain died on Feb. 12.