Lionel Landry passed from this life on January 28th, 2021. His heart was shaped by the bayous of his homeland, calling him to drop a line to fish for reds or head to the duck camp. He had a pure heart and a contagious laugh; his eyes were green and gold and filled with love. His hands were large, calloused, and always warm. They shaped driftwood into curved krakens and dinosaurs, and you knew he loved you if you got one. His knee was a favorite perch for his daughters and granddaughters, as well as the family’s chickens and the country squirrels.
In elementary school, he fell for his wife of 56 years; her smile still stops the room. He was a graduate of Louisiana College and the School of Social Work at Louisiana State University. After spending his early career in the mental health field, he worked in sales and marketing in the oil industry until his retirement. Once called the most fearsome salesman in the oilfield, he was known for his integrity. His word was like superglue.
His wanderlust led him to states across the South and eventually the Pacific Northwest. A nomad, ever-adventuring, swinging a machete in a two-piece suit, he never smelled after a full day outside—even his scent was clean and sweet. His love of the outdoors and his passion for sports afforded him an opportunity to bond those he loved closer to him. The purity of high school sports drew him to the bleachers, even in his later years.
His gift to the world was selflessness; always helping others, his Cajun mantra. He would drive across town or thousands of miles if he could do something to help one of his girls. He was a fierce defender should the rare threat arise to any one of them, a memorable tactic taken twice was a banana in the offender’s tailpipe. Most often, his spirit was soothing and one could often pass by and hear him softly singing Blue Bayou or whistling his favorite Neil Diamond tune. At church, he sang from his toes and the sound was clear and sweet. At Christmas, the season was complete when he joined a community sing-along group belting out the Messiah.
His nieces and nephews adored him, and his daughters boasted of having no greater father. He passionately loved his two granddaughters, building fires with them to roast hot dogs and marshmallows and taking them camping. He loved a good fire and would stoke it all day into the night. His love for his family anchored him. We will miss his “Hey, Shug!” – a favorite greeting to loved ones.
Over the last years, he lovingly restored his father’s pirogue that his parents used to gather pelts from their years of trapping. The pirogue rests at Berwick’s Heritage Museum (3326 Third Street, Berwick, Louisiana 70342). Lionel would want gifts in his memory sent to the museum to preserve his family’s beloved history and that of his hometown.