Last Friday, January 16th, Wendy Thibodeaux gave me the honor of swearing her in as Assessor of Lafourche Parish, the office she won in the special election of November 4th, 2014.
I hereby disclose that I endorsed and supported her and political issues were settled on that date. I was partial.
This column is not.
Upon administrating the oath I simultaneously felt honored, sad, glad, and nostalgic. Honored to be asked to officiate; sad that the reason for this ceremony was necessitated by the death of my son, Michael; glad because Wendy was for 12 years his trusted and valued employee and a very worthy successor; nostalgic because from May 20th, 1953 to May 4th, 2014, me or Mike had been employed by the Lafourche Parish Assessor’s office.
It all ended May 4th, 2014 with Mike’s sudden and untimely death. At that moment, his Chief Deputy, Wendy Thibodeaux became acting Assessor.
The special election of November 4th that elected Wendy had three good candidates, Jerome “Dee” Richard, a well-liked and effective State Representative, good family man and civic activist from Thibodaux; Jonathan “Jo Jo” Cheramie, an energetic young man with a wife and 4 children, (a good looking bunch), and a former member of the U.S. Navy who made a good showing in his first political attempt. He is originally from South Lafourche where the Cheramie name can be traced back to the founders of Golden Meadow … there’s a lot of them; and Incumbent Wendy Thibodeaux, a resident of Lockport in Central Lafourche.
Wendy was born in Chalmette and had worked in the St. Bernard Assessor’s Office for four years, married Jim Thibodeaux, a Lafourche Parish native, Nicholls State graduate and charter boat captain. With their children, Hailey and Ty, 12 and 9 respectively, they moved to Lockport.
Jim is a charter boat captain and Hailey was in the hit holiday play, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, at the Bayou Playhouse in Lockport, directed by Perry Martin. (I’m getting my whole family in this one). She played Snoopy the dog a non-speaking part but she did a mean bark and growl. Academy award stuff!
Their son Ty loves baseball, football and teasing his big sister, not necessarily in that order.
An experienced Deputy Assessor, Wendy applied for a job with my son, Michael, then Lafourche Parish Assessor. Being a State Certified Deputy Assessor, she was hired and after 4 years of diligent work ethics and expert knowledge of the office, she was appointed Chief Deputy when the present one retired.
Mike stopped at my house almost every night on his journey from Thibodaux and he shared news from the office because he knew my heart was still there. (It was kept in the computer room).
He would praise Wendy for her knowledge and expertise.
Mike had type I diabetes and was on his second kidney transplant, given to him by his employee, Michelle Peltier, for which our family will be eternally grateful. He often told me how good an Assessor Wendy would be if something happened to him. Something did, and she is.
When we met she said, “I remember you from certification courses we took together.”
I was getting re-certified and she was a young Deputy Assessor working on her first certificate.
The courses were at L.S.U., Tulane or S.L.I., and I remembered her because in one class there were two Wendys, and the instructor labeled them No. 1 and No. 2. He would call out “number one!” number 1”, which made the class laugh.
Now you know a little more about your new Assessor, a tedious job, sometimes boring dealing with calculations, fractions, millages, cost per square foot, acres, arpents and ratio studies, depreciation, appreciation and so on.
Math was my worst subject at school, and I went and spent 47 years having to deal with it day by day. I never knocked it, because it kept me and my family fed for a long time, and I love to eat.
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Posted on Tue, January 20, 2015
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer