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Tuesday, May 31, 2016
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In Remembrance
Nettie Armand-Blutcher
Age: 94
Parish: Orleans, LA
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Nettie Armand-Blutcher, 1910-2005

Maria Montoya
Staff writer

Even at 94, "Aunt Nettie" Armand-Blutcher was famous for her dance moves. She was the sort of woman who was just timelessly classy, according to her niece, Wanda Andrews, who now resides in California. She was known to wear fur stoles, high-heeled shoes, fancy hats and beautiful gloves.

However, Blutcher wasn't a woman of means. She worked most of her life as a housekeeper for the Katz family, co-owners of the drugstore chain Katz & Besthoff. By the early 1920s, she'd saved enough of her salary to buy her home on A.P. Tureaud Avenue.

As the eldest of 10 children, Blutcher always sacrificed financially to help out her family, said her youngest sister and only surviving sibling, Laura Armand of Ferriday. She never had children of her own, but her home was always filled with visiting nieces and nephews.

Armand said her sister was always considerate of the needs of others. Family members loved taking part in the many, many large holiday and family birthday meals Blutcher would host with her husband, William "Bill" Blutcher.

"There was just so much love in all of her meals," Swift said. "I used to love wearing her apron and standing next to her. She'd have the fire real low so the red beans and rice could simmer all day long. We'd tease her that her meals were daylong events because she put so much into them each and every time."

Born on Christmas Day in Vacherie, Blutcher wasn't one to enjoy formal events. She took joy in the simple things of life.

Her family will never forget the care she took to keep up the St. Augustine grass on her lawn. Her nieces' and nephews' memories of Easter are filled with stories of trudging through that thick grass to find dozens of Easter eggs each year. She never counted how many she hid, Swift said, so there'd always be eggs found days later.

Following the Easter egg extravaganzas, the family would feast on fresh shrimp and fish caught by Nettie and Bill.

After her husband died, Blutcher insisted on living independently and walking to Mass at Epiphany Catholic Church on Duels Street. Even when she could no longer walk that far, she'd still count out her church donation and fill her envelope each week. She was a devout Catholic and the signs of her faith, a small wooden cross and rosary beads, hang on the walls of her Gentilly home.

It was from there, with a freezer stuffed full of food, a flashlight, oil lamp, and three gallons of water stored in her pantry, that Blutcher phoned relatives across the country Aug. 28 to let them know she'd prepared for the hurricane and she had no intention of leaving her home. When her nieces and nephews in California tried to convince her otherwise, Blutcher was unmoved.

"I am going to ride out the storm," Swift remembered her saying. "I am so unafraid, I am dancing the jig!"

Blutcher's family and friends are now in the process of trying to retrieve her remains from the St. Gabriel morgue so they can plan her funeral. As recently as last year, she had let relatives know that she wanted a simple ceremony.

"I don't like a lot of formality," her goddaughter and niece Marie Washington recalled her Aunt Nettie saying. "I want people to know I lived a good life, that I loved the Lord."

Published in The Times-Picayune

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