Charles Roemer II
A memorial service honoring the life of Budgie Roemer will be at 11 am., Tues., July 10, 2012, at First United Methodist Church of Shreveport. Officiating will be the Revs. David Melville, Michael Barrett, and Carl Rhoads.
The family will receive friends from 4-7 pm. Mon., July 9, 2012 at Rose-Neath Marshall Street Funeral Home.
After a ten-year struggle, Alzheimer's felled Budgie within sight of his 90th birthday. What a magnificent decade-long fight he made against the ravages of the disease, able to communicate near the end only with a smile or a squeeze of your finger. Even then, one felt he could win. He was predeceased by his mother, step-father, and father Charles Elson "Pete" Roemer, sister, Margaret Roemer Read, and son-in-law Randall Harland Lefler.
He is survived by Adeline McDade Roemer, his wife of 70 years, and partner in all endeavors and explorations, and their five children, Buddy Roemer and wife Scarlett, Margaret Roemer Lefler, Danny Roemer and wife Judy, Melinda Roemer Barrett and husband Michael, and Melanie Roemer Melville and husband David; seventeen grandchildren; and thirty-six great grandchildren: teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, farmers, preachers, financial planners, bankers, workers, students, managers, executives, writers, artists, singers, merchants, politicians, business owners, mothers, fathers, friends-all got their start from this marriage, and, in part, from this man. All treasure and will miss his bold character, humor and wit, razor-sharp mind, passion for life, and his ever-present compassion for those in need of a helping hand. A brother-in-law, Henry Read of New Orleans, and a host of nieces and nephews, and special family Charlton Lyons III, Cookie Demler Roemer, Patti Marchiafava join in celebrating this unique life.
A depression-era farm boy, he was born December 11, 1923. He raised by his mother and stepfather Maggie and Vernon Mayer. "Budgie" is what Adeline always called him. It means "a small bird, like a parakeet". He volunteered and served in the Army Air Corp in WW II, attended Louisiana Tech University, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Louisiana State University. He married his high school sweetheart, Adeline. While attending LSU he worked as a welder in construction of the Esso (now Exxon) Refinery in Baton Rouge.
While he lived an incredible life, difficult to describe even in a multi-volume biography, some endeavors highlight a sense of the man. Over the decades, he and Adeline worked together in all their activities, but were farmers first of all. They also worked with LSU to introduce a new cotton variety across the South, Stardel Cotton, first grown at Scopena Plantation and the LSU Red River Valley Experiment Station. Their specialty in agriculture was the introduction of the cultivation of hybrid seed corn on a massive scale with its detasseling, storage, and drying requirements. They owned an International Harvester equipment dealership and owned and operated two cotton gins. They grew cotton, corn, soybeans, sunflowers, tomatoes, geese, cattle, and owned a dozen airplanes to control insects on their crops and that of their neighbors. They helped organize rural electric cooperatives to bring electricity to the "unprofitable" rural areas of Louisiana. They battled for Rural Electric Administation cooperatives in congressional hearings and in the corridors of Congress, at the White House, in the Louisiana Legislature, and in the offices of Louisiana and Texas governors to get it done and done right. Throughout America, senior members of the REA Movement remember Charlie and Adeline Roemer with thankfulness.
Living in the deep south in the 50's and 60's, a time of racial segregation by law and of many other racial abuses, Budgie was a strong and outspoken advocate of civil rights for minorities. He lived what he preached, welcoming black leaders to break bread with him and his family week after week at his home on the farm in Bossier Parish.
He encouraged minorities to run for political office and supported them openly when they did. For this he was at times physically threatened. He refused to compromise, change or back down from his views on equality, which he found in the Declaration of Independence. "All men are created equal."
His civil rights commitment was so deep that he chose his political candidates on this shared value above all others. Thus, he chose to support Congressman Edwin Edwards in a long-shot run for governor in 1970-71. He helped manage that campaign for governor operating from the Monteleone Hotel in downtown New Orleans, utilizing many political innovations for Louisiana campaigns, including computer software that provided constant polling of issues and their relative strengths, and a get-out-the-vote targeting strategy using telegrams sent to certain registered voters 48-hours prior to the election. After Edwards' narrow victory at the end of 1971, Roemer accepted the duties of Commissioner of Administration, serving for eight years. He vowed to protect the vulnerable and non-powerful and to bring the management and operations of state government into better focus and discipline. And he did - from the Superdome to the higher education system. Although at times controversial, he was known to be swift and fair in his management decisions on behalf of the Edwards' Administration. There is not a parish in Louisiana where the mention of the name "Roemer" does not elicit a question, "You any kin to Charlie Roemer?". If the answer is "yes", you get back a big smile and two words of gold, "Good Man".
The butcher-block supper-table at Scopena is famous for the political meetings with visiting candidates coming to seek the support of family and friends around the table. What is not well known are the countless hours of debate around the table among family members and friends about the direction of the state and the country.
At this same table, the family would plan their annual tour of the National Parks of America in the Lower 48 after the cotton crop was laid by in summer. Budgie always drove, with the five kids in the back seat. They drove from lower Mexico to Canada, from San Francisco to Boston. Summer after summer, driving to see America, two in front, five in back. No superhighways, no airplanes, no campers, no RVs, just a twelve to twenty-five dollar a night room for seven in a motel, cash, no credit cards, no reservations, gasoline at 35 cents a gallon, and a Studebaker, then, a Buick Roadmaster.
Budgie loved LSU football, driving the whole family to every home game in the 50's, 540 miles roundtrip, Highway 71 to Highway 1 and 190 and over the bridge and back again, day game or night, Methodist Church bright and early the next morning.
He loved movies and the family tried to go once every week, before television. He loved to read and passed that love to his children. His home is still lined with books-on every subject, a farm library. He got great enjoyment out of playing cards and games, from Russian Bank to Canasta. He taught his kids how to play Poker and was the "Master" of the universe. With a steely expression and a mind for numbers, he seemed unbeatable. He was just as interested in showing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren how to play some of those games and enjoyed playing them until his concentration departed as a result of his disease.
He supported everything his children were involved in, from education to sports, to plays, and rarely missed their activities. Most of all he loved tennis, built a concrete court in the front yard, had the weirdest slices and left-handed shots, and the family doubles matches are still remembered with tears and laughter.
As a family, we want to give a heartfelt thank you to the special care Budgie received over these past long months: St. Joseph's Hospice, especially Karen, Mandy, and Nancy; All About Care Home Services, especially Roger, Jaysen, Annie, Belinda, Kay, and Tina; Vaneshia; longtime friends, Josie, Idella, Donna, Joe Louis; Harmony House Hospice. Thank you so much.
Honoring their grandfather as pallbearers will be his nine grandsons, Franklin, Chas, Havard, Peter, Drew, Jude, Daniel, Dakota, and Taunton.
Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Julie Norton, Caroline Roemer Shirley, Alden Murphy, Grace Berios, Kelley Snead, Gretchen Benner, Henry Read, Joe Averett, Ross McDade, Tommy McDade, Bill McDade, Charlie Hutchins, Lee Hutchins, and The Honorable Edwin Edwards.
The family suggests memorials may be made to Hilman House Inc., 644 Herndon Street, Shreveport, LA 71101
On behalf of us all, "Here's to Budgie Roemer"
Love, and thanks for giving so much to so many.
So long Dad, Pop, Papa, and Grandpapa
ROSE-NEATH FUNERAL HOME
MARSHALL STREET CHAPEL - 222-0348
Published in Houma Today & The Daily Comet from July 9 to July 10, 2012
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