Less than a year after the “Perfect Storm” election of 1952, newly re-elected Assessor Max Rizan died and Governor Bob Kennon appointed Hubert P. Robichaux Acting Assessor and called an election for the full term. Qualifying were Robichaux, Irby Dugas and Roy Dupuy.
The election was a rematch for the “Old Regulars” supporting Dugas, the “All Parish” supporting Robichaux and one independent running for the office.
I was involved. Dr. John Gravois, Dick Guidry and Dave Robichaux informed me that appointee Robichaux had promised to let them pick his Chief Deputy and they offered it to me. They had been instrumental in getting him the appointment.
Many years before, returning from school I met Dave Robichaux talking to my Dad. Dad handed me a paper and said “Son, explain this to me.”
“Dad,” I said, “This is an oil lease. You’ll get $100 bucks if you sign and oil royalties should they find some. It’s OK to sign it.”
Mr. Robichaux appreciated that and asked me to accompany him soliciting leases from my relatives and neighbors. I did and got $10 and his appreciation.
Dave, Dick and Doc were now offering me a job I wasn’t sure I wanted or could get. But I organized my band and joined the campaign. The embers of the last election were still glowing but only three candidates were seeking one office and not hundreds seeking twenty.
The rallies, stump speeches, signs, newspaper and radio ads followed the mode. Supporters from the last election were still loyal and energized but at the rallies the actual candidates seeking the office were nearly forgotten as the two political parties revisited the old grudges, differences, arguments and feuds that had divided them for years.
The first primary was close and Roy Dupuy was eliminated leaving Robichaux and Dugas in the run off. Dugas was favored to win South Lafourche and the election, but Robichaux surprisingly carried it and went on to win the election by 600 votes.
Dr. Gravois gave me credit and rented a convertible for me to lead the inevitable parade that Sunday from Golden Meadow to Thibodaux. I humbly accepted, after all, who was I to question the good Doctor?
This was the last election where Dave Robichaux and Harvey Peltier, Sr. took the stump. They became friends and helped Harvey Peltier, Jr. defeat A.O. Rappelet to serve a long and honorable career as State Senator.
A note of irony: I began my political career opposed to Harvey Peltier, Sr. and his political organization but later ended scheduling dozens of private coffees and meetings for him with my friends and relatives in South Lafourche. He swept to victory parishwide, elected member of the State Board of Education, his last hurrah.
In the Assessor’s election I remember my band recording a campaign song I long forgot. The band was preparing when the radio announced that Roy Dupuy had endorsed Irby Dugas in the run off. My guitarist, Luke Charpentier, Jr. said, “We just lost the election, I’m out of here.”
I begged him not to, he complied and we resumed. The only significance is that Luke died in his early forties, and many years later widower Hubert Robichaux married his widow Hazel and they lived happily until his death in 1988. Hazel died in 2011.
Hubert’s wife “Toosie” had died years before in Houston, a sad story I will soon write about. They had one daughter, Beverly Mallett (Charles) and they had three daughters, Mary Beth, Ann and Jane. Hazel and Luke had one son, Terry.
Hubert Robichaux served for 30 years and retired. I succeeded him for 16 years and my son Michael succeeded me for 12 years and died in office in 2014. Mike’s Chief Deputy, Wendy Thibodaux won the office in 2014 and is still serving.
After his election, Assessor Robichaux kept the promise to his supporters and appointed me his Chief Deputy.
On my initial interview I asked him, “Mr. Robichaux, what does an Assessor do?”
As he rolled his eyes, little did I know that I would spend the next 47 years of my life trying to find the answer. I not sure I ever did.
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Posted on Tue, September 8, 2015
by Leroy Martin, Contributing Writer