Out of a loss comes an important message

In this week’s issue we sadly note the passing of Ronald Picou, known affectionately throughout Houma and surrounding communities as “Mr. Ronnie.”

His iconic donut shop earned a strong reputation for using quality ingredients and listening hard to customer requests.

Relatives have spoken with reverence of Mr. Ronnie’s devotion to them and to the community, and shared some humorous stories related to the man they now mourn and, at the same time, celebrate.

Despite the passing of this good and iconic man, there is every indication of continued tending of the torch he lit by family, who are keeping their business within the family, as it has always been.

Mr. Ronnie’s Hot Donuts is a household name in our neck of the woods, as much as the names of huge, well-known franchises are known throughout the U.S. This is no doubt because of the great attention to detail members of the family have continued to take, just as Mr. Ronnie has, right down to grinding fresh pecans for fillings of eclairs and other delights.

The donut shop also became a small, ersatz community center. Regular customers would routinely gather to discuss current events while savoring donuts as well as steaming cups of coffee. A new location in Boutte offers the potential of products made to the family’s standards, serving a wider radius of clientele.

There is another, broader story that emerges from the great success of Mr. Ronnie’s Hot Donuts and the love for its founder and for the business evinced by so many of our neighbors.

Mr. Ronnie’s is a locally owned and operated business right here in Terrebonne Parish. Its founder was a Terrebonne Parish resident born, raised and deceased here. The same goes for the family members who now operate Mr. Ronnie’s. It is but one such business here in our communities that exemplifies the reasons why we should, whenever possible “buy local.”

We have become accustomed to shopping, in many cases, with outlets whose choice of products is broad and who claim to give us great savings because they can buy in tremendous volumes. No ill will I borne toward any of these, and they certainly have a valid place in our community.

But we maintain that there is a value as well that comes with shopping with locally owned businesses. The children and grand-children of these business owners attend our local schools. They play on the school football teams and they get medical care from our local physicians. They are uniquely suited to keep an eye out for the retail desires of our community. If one local business is strong then it is able to serve as a pillar atop which other local businesses can stay afloat, each aiding the other. Locally owned banks have long been a bedrock of our local economy, and they are a part of the larger picture as well.

Our local shrimp, crab and oyster fishers along with the docks, processors and retail outlets they all provide fresh seafood to are part of an intricate web of local economics, and their economic health relates directly to that of all of us. Locally owned and operated oilfield service companies have long proven their value in relation to this same web. The story of what has happened as these businesses fell on hard times in recent years is legend. If proof of the interconnectivity of all of our local businesses truly exists, it is within the stories that each of these businesses, some thankfully on the road to recovery, have had to tell.

By way of full disclosure, we remind all of you that Rushing Media and therefore all of its publications are locally owned and operated as well. We provide the only locally owned and operated newspaper in Terrebonne Parish.

But we cannot exist without the support of our local businesses, whom we gladly feature in many of our stories, in good times as well as in bad times.

The passing of Mr. Ronnie Picou, the event that prompted us to present these words, is sad in so many ways. But his story is a testament to the goodness that comes when our neighbors support these local entrepreneurs. It is a reminder of how much our local business owners give to us, and how much we owe them in return by way of our patronage, our support and our good will. Rest well, Mr. Ronnie, knowing that you have left our community with a great legacy for which we are all grateful. •