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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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South Lafourche fire chief had education ‘ingrained in him’

South Lafourche fire chief had education ‘ingrained in him’

In everything he did, Freddy Guidry Jr. found a way to teach people.

With his coworkers, it was how to fight a fire or treat a patient with chest pains. With his grandchildren, it was the difference between rocks or how to throw a cast net.

“It was ingrained in him to be an educator,” said Brady Daigle, operations manager for Lafourche Ambulance. “He showed me how to be a paramedic. He was able to mold people from start to finish. He wasn’t just somebody that came and received a paycheck. He was somebody that applied himself to the community and the job.”

Guidry died June 30 at age 70.

He was a member of the Galliano-based Lafourche Parish Fire District 3 for 23 years, 17 of which as fire chief. Before that, he was a paramedic for Lafourche Ambulance for 25 years.

Daigle said Guidry was passionate, genuine and treated others as he wanted to be treated. His coworkers were like family to him.

Those who worked with him said he let people learn through trial-and-error rather than just telling them what to do.

“He was very forgiving of mistakes, even though he required excellence from everybody,” Assistant Fire Chief Kully Griffin said.

Though he knew when to be serious, Guidry was young at heart and had a quirky sense of humor, Griffin said.

“He’d kick us out of his office at least once a day and tell us we were fired. He didn’t mean it,” Griffin said. “He was known for bringing a toy gun ... and telling us there was a new sheriff in town. He went to Disney World, came back with a light saber and said he was a Jedi. He always had ways of keeping things interesting and keeping the morale high no matter what was going on.”

Training Officer Jordan Collins said one of Guidry’s greatest accomplishments was maintaining a volunteer force about 50 strong even after Fire District 3 evolved into a paid department with firefighters on call 24/7.

Griffin agreed, saying Guidry unified the department and “brought order out in all the chaos.”

Guidry was an Army veteran and Eagle Scout. He loved wine, collecting rocks and traveling.

“Anytime somebody was going on vacation, they had to go check in with him and see if he’d been there,” Battalion Chief Devin Dedon said. “He’d been to just about every place that we’d ever wanted to go. He would tell us everything we needed to do and everything we didn’t need to do.”

But above all, Guidry adored his family.

“You could see in his face the difference when he started talking about rocks – which he loved, there’s no doubt – than when he started talking about his family,” Collins said.

Guidry’s daughters and son – Sandy Guidry, Tracy Angelette and Simon Guidry – prepared a statement for this story.

They said their favorite part of Christmas was watching their father hand out gifts.

“He’d grab a gift, shake it a little and ask, ‘Who wants this one?’” they said. “He’d keep shaking the gift until the right person yelled out. His grandkids learned at a young age to yell, ‘Me, me, me,’ as we all did at every gift to eventually get the gift that was yours. He would laugh and have so much fun messing with us.”

Guidry’s children said he taught them kindness, generosity, acceptance, hard work, dedication and love.

“For Dad, his camp was a place to escape reality and the tasks of everyday life, a place where he could fish all night and piddle around all day or just rest on a lounge chair on his porch with a nice glass of wine, a place where he could just sit back and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation,” his children said. “He especially loved the time God sent us a rainbow that ended right across the canal on the self-named Exile Island. He often referred to beauty like that as divine intervention. ... We have learned so much from him and will always treasure the many wonderful memories he left with us.”

-- Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.