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Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Gerald ‘Buzz’ Breaux had passion for public service

Gerald ‘Buzz’ Breaux had passion for public service


Gerald “Buzz” Breaux, former Lafourche Parish councilman and parish president, died Monday after a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Breaux worked in the insurance industry for over 30 years, served 12 years on the council and was parish president from 1999 to 2003.

“He was passionate about everything as long as it was to help the people of this parish and to serve people to the best of his ability,” former Councilman and friend Joe Fertitta said.

Breaux was praised for his honesty and intentions to serve the people of Lafourche Parish.

“Buzz was a people’s person, he loved people and loved to make people smile,” former Councilman Philip Gouaux said. “He always thought of the parish first.”

During his four years as parish president, Breaux was unable to pass a budget due to a 5-4 split on the council. As a result, there were no department heads and Breaux served in those roles himself.

“It was amazing, how a person can run this whole parish by himself, with no help; he was passionate about it and came to work every day with smile on his face,” Fertitta said.

Breaux later sued the council for circumventing his authority by entering into contracts without his approval. A 17th District judge ruled in Breaux’s favor in 2002, but the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal later reversed the decision. Breaux’s appeal for a rehearing of the case and appeal to the state Supreme Court were denied. The ordeal cost the parish $265,000.

Despite the tension on the council, Breaux was able to complete some road paving and drainage projects, Fertitta said.

“Most people could not have handled the stress and situation that Buzz did, but he did a pretty darn good job under the circumstance,” Gouaux said.

Breaux ran for a second term in 2003, qualifying for the runoff election against Charlotte Randolph who would go on to become the first woman parish president and the first to serve three consecutive terms.

The decision to run for a second term, while still being blocked at almost every point by the council, reflected Breaux’s willingness to serve the public and his concern for the public, Fertitta said.

“He was a fighter. He wanted the best for the parish and had it in his mind what needed to be done,” Gouaux said. “Like everybody else, he hoped we’d have a council that could move the parish forward.”

During his tenure with the parish, Breaux was honest, fair and tried hard to work for the parish, said Councilman Daniel Lorraine, who served on the council when Breaux was councilman and parish president.

“At least, whether you agreed or disagreed, you could talk to him,” Lorraine said. “My sympathy goes out to him and the family.”

Among his other accomplishments, Breaux was also a skilled athlete and tried out to join the 1967 New Orleans Saints.

“He was a hell of a running back, anything and everything that Buzz did he put 100 percent or 110 percent into,” Gouaux said.

Breaux was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and played Santa Claus at local parades, schools, organizations and nursing homes for 37 years.

“He’s going to be sorely missed as a friend and companion on the council. He was an inspiration and just a joy,” Fertitta said.

Even throughout his struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Fertitta said Breaux never lost his smile.

-- Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or Follow her on Twitter at @gingerale214.