Remembering Loris Gaspard: Golden Meadow musician, outdoorsman a ‘True Cajun Man’

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Golden Meadow native Loris Gaspard wasn’t one for sitting idly and wasting time.

He was a hard-working, decent man who did anything he could to stay busy and enjoy his life and his family to the fullest.

He was a fisherman and trapper when the calendar said such things were in season. When not, he was a carpenter, mechanic and an overall Jack of all trades – anything to stay active and support his family as best he knew how.

Gaspard was also a musician – a craft he learned without formal instruction. For many years, he was the fiddle player in the Gaspard Family Band, entertaining crowds at family gatherings and other social events around the bayou. He later picked up the accordion and was a member of the Gaspard Brothers Band – another endeavor that allowed him to entertain family, friends and anyone in search of a good time.

But perhaps more important than it all, he was a loving father and husband. Those closest to Gaspard say that his late wife of 71 years, Claudia Guidry Gaspard, was the apple of his eye – the thing he loved most in the world. The couple shared three children (Danny Gaspard, Geanette Cheramie and Elaine Rodrigue) and each touts that their family was filled with love, guidance and comfort.

Gaspard passed away on March 11, 2015 at the age of 95.

His closest kin remember him simply as a ‘True Cajun Man’. The opening line in Gaspard’s eulogy reads, ‘It is often said that willingness to work is the measure of a man.’ By that measure, there were few more manly than this now-departed Cajun.

“My dad was a true Cajun,” Rodrigue said of her father. “My dad always amazed me with his intelligence. With a minimal formal education, but a sea of knowledge, Dad knew how to do almost anything presented to him.”

That wealth of knowledge Rodrigue mentioned went a great way in defining the life of her father – 90-plus years of countless stories and adventures.

Rodrigue said just about everything her father knew, he either taught himself or learned from others around him in his life. The fishing and trapping is a natural fit for any Cajun-born young man born in the 1920s.

But he also was a natural carpenter who built several homes in the south Lafourche Parish community. Gaspard was even ahead of his time as an amateur meteorologist. Rodrigue said her dad would always accurately predict weather patterns and even storms by looking up into the sky and studying what was going on.

“He knew a great deal about weather forecasting,” Rodrigue said. “Even before the Weather Channel or even Nash Roberts, Dad was accurately forecasting weather by noticing cloud patterns and changes in the sky.”

That same natural talent carried over into music.

Gaspard played pretty much any instrument he could get his hands on throughout his life, learning them all with ease.

Rodrigue said she loved watching her father play music, saying her fondest memories were watching her dad with the band.

He started out as a fiddle player with the Gaspard Family Band, which featured Loris’ father, Wilson Gaspard, on accordion.

After Wilson Gaspard passed away, there was no one else left in the family to play accordion, so Loris decided to learn it, himself. He played the instrument for the rest of his life, including when he was in the Gaspard Brothers Band.

Gaspard was active for almost his entire adult life. Rodrigue said he drove into his 90s and did garden work and other housework, deep into the late stages of his life.

“Oh, how I loved to watch my dad play music,” Rodrigue said. “We used to go and the ladies used to dance and the men played music. It was always such an amazing time. We had a blast. I made so many great memories there.”

But perhaps more important than all of the man’s traits was his love for his wife. Gaspard married Claudia Guidry when the two were teens. They stayed married for 71 years before she passed away a few years ago.

Rodrigue said her father and mother were inseparable and deeply in love. She remembered a quote her dad told her that eases the pain of his passing.

The ‘True Cajun Man’ is gone, yes. But he’s now reunited with his deepest love.

“He adored her,” Rodrigue said. “And she adored him, too. When she died, he told us not to cry when he passed away because it meant that they’d be together again.

“He passed and we didn’t listen, because we definitely cried. But we love that they are back together again. I know he’s very happy about that. Together, they were the perfect Cajun couple.”

Loris Gaspard poses with his grandchildren Amy and Tommy before his 95th birthday. The Golden Meadow native was known for his work ethic and love for music.