Legacy.com Katrina's Lives Lost
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In Remembrance
Betty & Douglas Arceneaux
Age: N/A
Parish: St. Bernard, LA
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Betty Arceneaux, 1940-2005
Doug Arcenaux, 1936-2005

Chris Bynum
Staff writer

Three days before Katrina hit, Betty Arceneaux called her friend Glendora Ferman.

"My house is all done. My kitchen's all done. But Doug won't be cooking in it. It's too pretty, and he makes a mess when he cooks," Betty told her friend of more than 40 years.

The Arceneauxs had lived in their Meraux home for more than 30 years, and sprucing it up was something the couple took pride in doing. Doug, a truck driver, and Betty, who retired last spring after 45 years as a secretary for Kasco Glass Company, had spent $34,000 of their savings on renovations.

The house was more than just their home, says Doug Arceneaux's 36-year-old son, Douglas. It was the center of their lives, where they invited family and friends every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even their lawn, Douglas says, "was immaculate. They didn't even want you to walk on the grass because it left footprints. And they treasured a Japanese Magnolia tree they had paid a lot for."

The Arceneauxs had a routine, and it revolved around their home.

"They got up every morning, read the paper, drank coffee, watched the news," Douglas said. "And then Mom would cook breakfast and do chores inside the house. And Dad would work outside. They would have dinner at 6, and then Mom would do the laundry."

Betty, his stepmother, "was a very good cook, especially with spaghetti and meatballs," Arceneaux says. But on Sundays after church, they would go out to eat. It was a day of rest for everyone.

Doug Arceneaux, born in Rayne, was known for his humor.

"He always had a joke to tell . . . sometimes a dirty joke," recalls Glendora's daughter Monica Ferman. "Let's face it, 95 percent of the time it was a dirty joke. But he always made you laugh."

Doug Arceneaux took his son fishing to Delacroix and Hopedale and to fishing rodeos. He and Betty embraced "the atmosphere and the celebration" of New Orleans, Douglas says. That's why they made it home. It's where Betty Arceneaux was born 65 years ago.

When it looked like New Orleans would be in the direct path of a massive storm, Betty called Glendora again.

"I'm not leaving because (I'm afraid) of looters, and I just finished my house," Betty told her.

The Arceneauxs invited a couple, friends of theirs who lived in a house-trailer in a low-lying area, to come stay with them in their home.

The four of them were found dead in the Arceneaux's attic.

"My Dad had taken income tax papers up there. I think he knew what was coming, and he wanted to have some identification with him," says Arceneaux, who talked with them by cell phone during the storm.

The last thing the son said to his father was, "I love you." Then the phone went dead.

Published in The Times-Picayune.

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