After she lost her 27-year-old son to the Gulf of Mexico in a diving incident, Cindie Roussel wanted a proper way to remember him.
Blake Terry, of Lockport, went missing Aug. 13, 2011. His body was never recovered.
"I lost Blake and I had nothing," Roussel said. "I just couldn't bring myself to build a tombstone or an empty tomb with a gravesite to have a memorial of him. ... I wanted something of beauty to represent the beauty of the Gulf. An anchor, I didn't see beauty in that. Although we lost our children in the Gulf, or a brother or a husband, it's still beautiful."
So she connected with families of some lost in the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill to build a monument to be located next to Port Fourchon's Emergency Command Center. The Greater Lafourche Port Commission donated the land, and the memorial is expected to be completed in the fall.
A 5K and crawfish cookoff is set for March 11 to raise money for the Our Lady of the Gulf monument. For more information, visit btmemorialfoundation.com.
The mermaid, designed by Robert Epstein, will be ascending from the water, bathed in air bubbles and sunlight, and her cloak will include diving fins, an oil rig and sea life. She will have a bronze finish and stand about 15 to 16 feet tall between her height and a platform, which will include information on the monument's history, sponsors and those it honors.
Roussel said her son was outgoing and fun-loving with a huge heart. He always wanted to be part of something bigger than himself, and he quit college for a while to help Gulf Coast residents rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
"He lived here on earth as though he was on vacation and was riding through," Roussel said. "Blake loved the water, and he loved the Gulf. He always said this was God's country and he said, 'Why would anyone want to go anywhere else?'"
Roussel said four lost diver missions have been conducted through the Blake Terry Memorial Foundation and two resulted in recoveries.
Diana Evans, who lost her 22-year-old brother, Shane Roshto, of Liberty, Miss., to the 2010 spill could not be reached for comment for this story.
Arleen Weise lost her 24-year-old son, Adam Weise, of Yorktown, Texas. She said he was a hard worker but also had a great sense of humor and loved to play jokes on people.
"At the golf course, they'd hide in the bushes and blow the air horn when people would get up," she said with a chuckle. "One of them chased them."
Weise said the monument will serve as a "living memory" of her son and others lost at sea.
Missy Jones lost her 28-year-old son, Gordon Jones, of Baton Rouge. She will be going to Denver with Roussel next month to see the work in progress.
Jones said there were crosses on Grand Isle after the oil spill and a tree at LSU was dedicated to her son, who attended the university. The monument, however, will be a more permanent memorial, she said.
"You don't have a body, and it's just that closure that you aren't able to experience with burying someone," she said. "It'll give us a place to be able to go to and remember. This will be a really concrete thing and be a beautiful tribute to those who have died. ... Losing a child, to me, is the worst kind of grief you can go through. Every day of your life, you feel that loss and you've got to choose to move forward."
Jones said her son worked as a mud engineer for what is now Schlumberger and wanted to learn the business so he could move into sales. He was a fun-loving, easygoing guy who made friends with everyone and loved LSU and golfing, she said.
Chris Moran of Moran's Marina helped with the planning of the memorial. He said he knew Terry and Roshto.
Terry was a happy, charismatic man, and Roshto was "a great little country kid," Moran said. The memorial represents the impact all the victims had on people's lives, he said.
"(Roussel) was an unbelievable mother to Blake and to all of us who knew him," Moran said. "She's worked so hard to make sure that Blake's memory will never be forgotten, and I'm really proud of her. She's an angel on this earth."
Port Director Chett Chaisson said he didn't know the victims personally but hopes the monument gives their families closure and a place to remember them.
Roussel believes fate brought her and the other families together.
"As a mother, you never want to be in this position of losing a child," she said. "But you are able to be with other mothers who experienced this loss, and you've all come out of this and survived it and you have a story to tell. The paths that you cross are meant for you to cross. They're not by accident. They're all part of a plan. We all have a purpose, and sometimes going through something like this you find your purpose."
-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.
Posted on Fri, March 3, 2017
by By Bridget Mire Daily Comet Staff Writer