George F. Dupuis, Jr.
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ABBEVILLE - A Mass of Christian Burial for the Mayor of Erath, Mr. George F. Dupuis, Jr., 63, will be held at 3:00PM on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church with Fr. Manny Fernandez and Fr. Bill Melancon officiating. Visitation will be at David Funeral Home of Abbeville on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 from 11:00AM until 9:00PM with a recitation of the rosary at 7:00PM. Visitation will resume on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 from 8:00AM until the time of the services. Interment will follow at Our Lady of Lourdes Mausoleum in Erath.
Mr. Dupuis a native of Lafayette and a long time resident and Mayor of Erath for the last 10 years died at 1:20PM on Sunday, September 1, 2013 at his residence. Dupuis was born and raised on the north side of Lafayette. He graduated from Northside High School in 1968. His father was the longtime President of the Lafayette Parish School Board and a community leader in Lafayette. Dupuis would often accompany his father to political and civic functions. This began his love affair of politics and community involvement.
In 1971, Dupuis supported former Governor Jimmie Davis who was seeking his third term as governor. He was part of the team that traveled the state with Davis while he campaigned. Dupuis hauled the bandstand to all of the rallies where Davis would appear. Governor Davis would sing with his wife, Anna, who was a member of the Chuck Wagon Gang gospel singers, and country music star Eddy Raven. Davis lost the race, but that did not dampen Dupuis' love for politics.
In 1974, Jerry McKernan was running for Public Service Commission in a district that included Vermilion Parish. During the campaign, Dupuis visited Erath for the 4th of July Celebration. He rode in his first festival parade. He fell in love with the town, and decided that one day he would come back to live in Erath.
That day came in 1985 when Dupuis decided to start his own business. He moved to north Erath and opened Ke-Co, Inc., an oilfield construction and environmental company. Later he moved into the city limits of Erath in 1988. Dupuis went into kidney failure in 1991. He was on dialysis for four years. In spite of that, he continued to operate his business. In 1995, he closed Ke-Co due to his health issues.
Despite being in kidney failure, Dupuis' love of politics persisted. In 1987, Dupuis served as Regional Coordinator for Edwin W. Edwards' campaign for governor. At age 37, he was in charge of the campaign operation for eight parishes. In 1995, he served as the parish coordinator for Mike Foster in his first campaign for governor. Dupuis was not able to share the joy of victory with Foster on election night. He was rushed to Houston to receive a kidney transplant.
Dupuis was a very active member of the Erath community. He was a member of the Erath Backers Club, the Festival des Famille d'Erath, Erath Century Club, A founding member and past president of Vermilion Parish Municipal Association, and a member of Louisiana Municipal Association. On March 7, 2000, Erath Middle School burnt. Many teachers lost years of supplies and teaching materials. Dupuis helped to organize a benefit concert at Charlie Field to raised funds to help the teachers replace their lost materials.
He was the concession chairman for over a decade and had been in charge of booking the bands for many years. He was also the chairman of the Bar-B-Que Cook off for several years. George was the Grand Marshal of the 66th Annual Erath 4th of July Celebration. As a very active member of the association, there were very few activities involved with the Erath 4th of July Celebration that Dupuis was not been involved in through the years.
In October 2002, George realized his longtime dream when he was elected Mayor of Erath. He took office on January 1, 2003, and tragedy soon struck. In his first month in office, the town barn caught fire. The barn, along with most of the town's equipment, was completely destroyed. Two years later, Hurricane Rita brought unprecedented destruction to the town. The hurricane came ashore on September 24, 2005, pushing in a storm surge that left over 90 percent of the homes, businesses, and schools under water. The storm left Erath devastated, but George ensured the town would not be destroyed and forgotten. Ignoring his own health issues, he guided the town through the devastating effects of the storm. He later had to be brought to the hospital due to total exhaustion.
While Erath was still recovering from Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike pushed devastating flood waters into the town on September 13, 2008. George calmly led the town through the storm and recovery from City Hall. George's efforts ensured that Erath would emerge from these devastating storms as a better and stronger town. He insisted that the town residents be provided grants to lift their homes in order to remain living safely in the community. He urged residents to come back and businesses to reopen. He pleaded with the school board to reopen our schools as soon as possible so that Erath students could receive an education in town. Erath has come back stronger and better as George envisioned. When Erath High School was named the number one public school in the State of Louisiana in 2011 and 2012, George was filled with pride. He felt this demonstrated that the Town of Erath was back and better than ever.
George led the town through a very progressive ten years. He obtained a grant to make improvements to beautify the downtown area. This included the construction of new sidewalks and removal of overhead wires. The town also received a donation to erect seven 20 foot light poles in the downtown area. Under his leadership, the town acquired the property on Highway 14 where Morris Lahasky Nursing Home was located. Later, he relocated the town's Public Works Facility there, moving it from its former cramped location on Derouen Street. Through grants, the town was able to construct a state-of-the-art fire department on the highway property. A new larger and more modern police department is being constructed at the former location on the corner of Kibbe and Bourque Streets. This police station will be triple the size of the old building and is flood proofed. This will allow the police department to continue to operate in this building, even if flood water inundates Erath again. George was always preparing for any future hurricanes. With that in mind, he led the effort to lift all sewer collection pumps above flood elevation. This will result in undisrupted service during times of emergency. In addition, many streets in town that were damaged by flood waters were overlaid during his administration. George also negotiated a new lease with the United States Post Office that ensures its presence in downtown Erath for years to come. He led the efforts to incorporate much of the land along the Veterans Memorial Drive (Hwy 14 Bypass). This encompassed the west end of town, including the school board property and Quality Sports Athletic and RV Complex on the North Road. This will allow Erath to grow its tax base as businesses open along Veterans Memorial Drive.
George was always thinking of ways to improve Erath in the future. At this time, two major projects are in the design stage for the town. The town's waste water treatment plant, which was constructed in 1986, is in line to receive a major overhaul and expansion. This expansion will allow the town to handle future growth and comply with federal environmental regulations. The town has also received a grant to construct a new building at the Public Works Facility to house all the town's tractors, trucks, and equipment.
George had a deep love for the Town of Erath and its residents, and that love was returned to him by the people. He holds the distinction of being the only Mayor of Erath in the last 60 years to be elected twice without opposition. Although not an Erath native, his love and passion for Erath burned as deeply as any lifelong resident. He chose Erath as his home and place to raise his family. Erath is a better place because of that decision.
Mr. George enjoyed college football, horse racing, cooking, hunting, reading, and fishing. But most of all he was known for putting others before himself.
He is survived by his wife of 8 years, Judy Vincent Dupuis of Erath; his mother, Virginia Bragg Dupuis of Lafayette; two sons, George "Tra" F. Dupuis, III and his wife Jeanne' of Erath and Colby Dupuis of Erath; three daughters, Shawna Landry and her husband Jamie of Scott, Jobi Dupuis of Erath, and Kelley Vincent and her husband Dustin of Erath; a step son, Shane Vincent and his wife Monique of Erath; three step daughters, Lynn Cormier and her husband Stern of Erath, Annette Schexnayder and her husband Kevin of Erath, and Candy Stakes of Erath; a brother, Mike Dupuis of Lafayette; a sister, Mitze Durio of Bakersfield, CA; five grandchildren, Austin Dupuis, Allie Richard, Ava Dupuis, Kate Vincent, and Cohen Landry; and ten step grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his father, George F. Dupuis, Sr.; two brothers, James " Jimmy" Dupuis and Chris Dupuis; and two sisters, Rita Bozant and Janie Dupuis.
Serving as pallbearers will be Tommy Richard, Chad Borel, Mark Borel, Nathan Granger, Mike Couvillion, and Kevin Schexnayder.
Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Austin Dupuis, Cohen Landry, Pierre Hebert, Jamie Landry, Dustin Vincent, Chris Langlinais, Shane Vincent, Dale Dupuis, Ronnie Domingue, Robert Vincent, John "Temac" Durio, Jr., Mike Dupuis, Mark Guidry, Steve Granger, James Wilson, Wesley Landry, David Farrell, Durphy Landry, Roland Suire, Steve Ortego and the many people of Erath that call him "Pop."
The family would like to extend a special thanks to Melody Theriot for all the care she gave Mr. George during his time of need and to all those who helped him and were a special part of his life.
David Funeral Home of Abbeville at 2600 Charity St. will be handling the arrangements.
Published in the The Advertiser on Sept. 4, 2013