School board member mourned

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Lafourche Parish lost a dedicated and respected member of its School Board May 27. This loss has been felt by the remaining members of the board.

Louis Thibodaux, former School Board member district 1, departed May 27 and was laid to rest the following Wednesday. Remaining members expressed sorrow over the departed friend and often mentor.

“Shocked; we never think it will be someone you know,” said Ann Sanamo in reaction to Thibodaux’s passing. “Louis was a wonderful mentor. He always looked after me.”

Sanamo, who is the Vice President and Representative of district 12, recalled Thibodaux taking her under his wing and teaching her how schoolboard procedures were carried out.

Thibodaux, having served on the board for 19 years, was very experienced in his role. This experience was further illustrated through serving as both president and on the Finance Committee.

Other members took notice as well: “He used to go the extra mile for the board,” said Richmond Boyd Jr.

Boyd represents district 3 and spoke highly of Thibodaux’s desire to work on issues.

“He was a really good team player, and just wanted to move the board forward,” said Boyd. “We might have disagreed in the beginning, but once he saw why I was pursuing something he was on board.”

Thibodaux served as a mentor for Boyd as well. He recalled Thibodaux approaching him at his first board meeting, “He said ‘come let me show you how to do this,’” Boyd said. “He came to me, I didn’t have to go to him.”

While Thibodaux showed these members the ropes, Dennis Jean Chiasson, Representative of District 10, was a member of the board during Thibodaux entry, “he turned out to be a real good board member with common sense.”

Having served the board for 28 years, Chiasson went on to say that he thought common sense was an attribute sorely lacking these days, and that Thibodaux was an exemplar of this virtue. He described how he and Thibodaux became great personal friends and would even have coffee together.

Chiasson chuckled at the thought of possibly mentoring Thibodaux, “I don’t know if he learned anything from me, but he’d probably be better off if he didn’t.”

He said what he respected most about Thibodaux was that even when they disagreed, as on the size of the board, they could still work together.

“Unity is what we look for,” said Chiasson. Next, he went on to quote how Thibodaux used to approach it “We may disagree, but let’s sit down and debate it.”

After recalling his time with his old friend, Chiasson said the board as well as the community lost a wealth of experience with Thibodaux’s passing. This loss is to be followed by a subsequent hammer blow at the end of the year as Chiasson will also be stepping down.

“It’s time for the younger generation to carry the ball,” he said. “It’s time for me to move on.”

The board must elect an interim successor within 20 days and if they do not act Gov. John Bel Edwards will have to make an appointment. The interim will not serve long, however, as all of the board’s 15 seats will be on the ballot Nov. 6, with new terms starting Jan. 1, 2019.

Louis Thibodaux