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Junius Joseph "Joe" Champeaux II (FAIA)

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Junius Joseph "Joe" Champeaux, II, (FAIA), 74, died peacefully on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013 at his home surrounded by his loving family. Joe was born on January 15, 1939 in New Iberia, Louisiana. His father was in the United States Air Force, and as such, Joe moved to many towns while he was growing up. He liked to tell people that he went to 11 different schools before he graduated high school, one of which was an all-girls school! Joe graduated from Landry High School (now St. Louis Catholic) in 1957. It was there that he met his high school sweetheart, Rosalie "Poddy" Marie Leveque. After high school, Joe studied architecture at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) now the University of Louisiana, Lafayette (ULL). He finished his undergraduate and master's degree at Tulane University in New Orleans. Joe received a second master's degree at Rice University with specialties in Architecture, Urban Design and City Planning. On July 29, 1961, Joe married the love of his life, Poddy Leveque Champeaux. In November of 1962, Joe and Poddy gave birth to their first daughter, Renee Michelle. Shortly thereafter, in 1963, Joe passed the Architecture Registration Exam and enlisted in the United States Air Force. Joe was a proud officer in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a member of the 4420th Combat Support Group, 1st Air Commando Wing of the Tactical Air Command at the Special Air Warfare Center at Hurlburt Field, which is a part of the greater Eglin AFB in Florida. He was assigned to the engineering department and worked with the Wing Commander Gen. Gilbert Pritchard on improvements at Hurlburt Field. In May of 1965, while in the Air Force, Joe and Poddy gave birth to their second daughter, Caron Cherise. In 1966, after serving for three years, Joe received the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Services (the highest award given by the Air Force for non-combat service). At the end of his service, Joe and Poddy moved back home to Louisiana. Joe was named the first in-house city planner for the City of Lake Charles in 1968. That same year, Joe and Poddy gave birth to their third daughter, Marjorie Annette. In 1972, he became a principal in the firm Barras Breaux Champeaux. In 1980, Joe became the first and still at this time, the only, architect from Southwest Louisiana to be elected by his peers to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Fellowship in the AIA is a lifetime honor bestowed on architects for notable contribution to the profession. In the early 80's Joe established his own architectural firm which in 2004, expanded to Champeaux Evans Hotard. In 2008 Joe retired from the firm, but continued to consult as requested. Professionally, Joe served as president of the American Institute of Architects and the Louisiana Architects Association. He was named to the United States Capital Planning Task Force in Washington DC. Joe's forty years of practice as an urban designer involved thirteen cities throughout the United States and Canada, as well as consultation for the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Joe had the honor of representing American architects at an international earthquake conference in Tokyo, Japan presenting a paper on United States land use and planning methods. He consulted in 15 states on matters of life safety, public access, urban design, ordinance preparation for standards of safety and convenience of public spaces and preparing urban design character sketches reflecting future development potential. In addition, Joe served pro bono as an urban designer on the American Institute of Architects National Regional/Urban Design Teams (AIA R/UDAT) as Chairman in 13 states. Members of these Design Teams assist communities throughout the country in developing a vision for the future along with specific actions plans to improve land use within these communities. Joe was a visionary and a leader in the worldwide architectural profession. Joe was instrumental in many buildings and public spaces in the Lake Charles area, which are simply too numerous to list. A few of his many projects included: "Operation GRIP", which used urban renewal grant money to improve Goosport under Mayor Jim Sudduth; "Operation Heartbeat" to implement a downtown pedestrian mall in the late 1960's; the original boardwalk around the lake front under Mayor Willie Mount; the Christus St. Patrick Cancer Center; the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center ("SEED"); the American's Wetlands Discovery Center; the Family Life Center at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church and finally, as part of the master planning committee for the St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. Throughout his life, Joe was an active community leader serving in 1978 as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Southwest Louisiana Chamber of Commerce. Joe was president of the following organizations: American Red Cross of Southwest Louisiana, the United Cerebral Palsy Organization of Southwest Louisiana, St. Louis Catholic High School Board, Christus St. Patrick Board of Councilors, and president and district governor of the Lake Charles Chapter of Serra International. He volunteered services to The Junior League of Lake Charles by designing their logo and providing the cover design and sketches for Pirates Pantry Cookbook. Joe's sketches have also been donated to various organizations including Lake Charles "Save the Arcade"; The Junior League's Follies scenery; The Louisiana Choral Foundation stage sets; Children's Miracle Network telecasts for more than 20 years; Central School for the Dudie Thielen Award; The Chamber Southwest for economic development proposals; and numerous schools and churches. Well done, good and faithful servant. Joe was on the Board of the Krewe of Contraband for many years serving as the Master of Ceremonies. He was honored as King of the Krewe of Contraband in 2008. In 2012, Joe was honored at the 40th Anniversary as the King of the Krewe of Mystique. Joe was an active member of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church and presently at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He loved, and was loved by many people. Most of all, Joe loved his family. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Rosalie "Poddy" Marie Leveque Champeaux and his three treasured daughters, Renee Wood and husband Frank (Lake Charles); Cherise Sale and husband Chris (Little Rock, AR); and Annette Cotton and husband Blake (Baton Rouge, LA). "Papo" leaves behind six cherished grandchildren, Ashley and Frankie Wood; Andre Champeaux and Simone Sale; and Marie and Camille Cotton. Joe is also survived by two sisters, Isabelle Champeaux, who lives in Los Angeles, CA; Kathryn Bower, who lives in Ashville, NC; his sister-in-law, Mary Ann and husband Jim Hooper of Lake Charles; his Godchildren, Julieann Lambert and Alexander Lambert, both of Broomfield, CO, and Doug Hooper who lives in Baton Rouge, LA.; and many more nieces, nephews, and cousins. He is preceded in death by his parents, J. Joseph and Isabelle Champeaux. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children's Miracle Network of Christus St. Patrick Hospital, St. Louis Catholic High School, the ; the ; to any children's program at any local school in the Lake Charles area or to a . Funeral services will be at 1:30 PM Wednesday, April 3, at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church. The Rev. Keith Pellerin will officiate. Burial will be in Consolata Cemetery under direction of Johnson Funeral Home. Visitation will be at the funeral home from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM. A prayer service and rosary will be held at 6:30 PM Tuesday in the funeral home chapel.
Published in The Advocate from Apr. 2 to Apr. 3, 2013
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