Funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 10:00 AM in La Chapelle de Martin & Castille in Lafayette for John Allen LeBlanc, 77, who died on Sunday, April 1, 2018 at his residence in Lafayette. John fought the hard battle for the last 7 years from complications of a staph infection, amputation of his right leg and eventually Alzheimer’s.
Entombment will be in St. John Mausoleum.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his beloved wife Shirley Thibodeaux LeBlanc; two daughters, Donna Ernst and her husband, Thomas "Tom" Ernst and Sonya Key and her husband, Gary Key; one son, Kevin LeBlanc and his wife, Kathy; two sisters, Barbara Molbert and Diana Romero and her husband, Chester "Tony" Romero; five grandchildren, Damion Garrett and his wife, Michelle, Brazos Bennight, Glenda Key, Jessica Ernst and Laura Key; three great grandchildren, Devin Garrett, Jeanne Garrett and Sebastion "Buddy" Garrett; his childhood and best friend for 70+ years, Norris "Boobie" Sonnier; and most of all his companion and comforter, 12 year old "Rusty", all 11lbs of him.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John LeBlanc and Marie Louise Guilbeau; nieces, nephews and numerous cousins.
John Allen LeBlanc was a native of Lafayette, LA born on Oct. 20, 1940. He enlisted in 1959 into the Army and was stationed at Ft. Lewis, Washington. While there he was taught cross country skiing as part of his military exercises. From that experience he came to love snow skiing, mountain hiking and downhill biking. His love for the mountains was undeniable, always in his travels he wanted to go to the mountains. John was always ready to travel and has snow skied all across the United States and Canada. When he was home his sport of choice was golf, and was a member of Lafayette Senior Men’s Golf Association. He was always up for a challenge.
On December 1, 1962 John and Shirley Thibodeaux were married in St. Genevieve Catholic Church and for the next 55 years and 4 months it was the best “roller coaster ride of their lives”. He was owner of John Allen LeBlanc Painting and Wallpapering for 40 years. During those 40 years John worked for three generations of clients. For many he was a friend, someone they considered as “family”.
In the early 1990’s John discovered another passion of building replicas to scale. He replicated 41 different sites and ALL of them were donated to various museums, foundations and individuals throughout the world. Several are located in Lafayette and surrounding areas, such as Lafayette Parish Court House, Lafayette City Hall, Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, ULL, Lafayette, LA, Vermilionville Historic Village, Acadian Memorial located in St. Martinville, LA, Acadian Museum in Erath, LA, Baton Rouge, Louisiana State Capitol and Old Louisiana State Capitol, Louisiana Creole Heritage Center - Northwestern State University Natchitoches, LA, Odgen Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA, visitors Center in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, Moncton University Museum, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, La Mesa, New Mexico and France. On April 18, 2015 Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne proclaimed that John Allen LeBlanc to be an Ambassador for the State of Louisiana for his hard work in preserving the state’s history and heritage by sharing our culture with the world. In June 2015, the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University presented John with the People’s Award for “their appreciation for replicas of historic buildings preserving Louisiana and Creole heritage for generations to come”.
On July 11, 2015 John was inducted into the Acadian Museum, Erath LA “Living Legends” for his replicas and efforts in educating the history and culture through his works.
John wanted our children, grandchildren great-grandchildren and future generations to understand what was here in the past and hope they learn to appreciate that “You can’t understand who YOU are unless you understand who and what was here before”.
"Celebration of Life" was held for John, Shirley, his wife, gave the eulogy:
I’ve always told OUR children and grandchildren “always have fun with your adventures but remember to make memories, for that will sustain you for eternity”.
Now today I want to share some memories I had with the “Love of my Life”.
The first time I met John Allen I was 15 years old working at Comeaux’s Snowball Stand on Mudd Ave. and John was 18 home on leave from the Army. He came up to the window with his childhood friend “Boobie” and ordered a spearmint snow cone.
He came back the next day and ordered the same thing. On about the 3rd day we could hear him singing “Shirley Jean” by “Big Walter” and riding a bike. Well everyone just knew that he was smitten over me. This song became “OUR” song. (Play music Shirley Jean)
Sometimes it was difficult for some people to know if he was joking or not, he had such a dry sense of humor. Jokes were thrown around by groups of people and John many times would not get the joke until sometime later. His jokes at times were very funny but in the presentation/interpretation from him at times were dry. He left his family and friends with his best “dry joke”. Through the tears and broken heart we are laughing for John died on Easter Sunday, day of Resurrection and it was also April Fool’s Day. Only John could accomplish that feat, with one more laugh for us all.
John told the grandchildren that “when he was born he was a girl”, he had a picture of himself as a baby with a long dress. He also would tell the kids and grandkids that he graduated twice from N.P. Moss, in reality he went as far as the 8th grade after being socially promoted for 2 years. His education level was 6th grade. His interest in far off places came from school from his favorite teacher Ms. Carter.
He loved to travel especially here in the states and Canada; everything was an adventure for him and he had absolutely no fear of trying anything new. When he learned how to turn on the computer and Uncle James, telling him about Google Earth well this began his journey around the world. He would always tell me of his “google trips” to some far off place and the beauty he saw. He loved to tell you about the world and its beauty.
He could figure out how to repair just about anything. As “my brother, James would say “Southern Engineering”.
Every Spring he would make paper kites with a long tail using strips of old sheets. He handed them out to kids in the neighborhood like candy.
In the last 21/2 years he and his constant companion and buddy our 12 year old dog, Rusty rode his red electric 3 wheel scooter all over the neighborhood. Friends would tell me they saw them riding on that scooter on Camellia Blvd, Kaliste Saloom, Amb. Caffery, Johnston St and throughout our neighborhood. My response was always please don’t tell me, for we had an agreement and a promise “there was to be no regrets if anything happened to him”. Promises were made and promises were kept.
John truly loved playing golf here at home especially at Muni with his friends, especially “Boobie”. When we traveled he always brought clubs and “hit away balls” as he called them. Remember kids the times he would hit those balls into canyons, towards the mountains or in the desert. He had such fun.
John learned how to cross country ski while stationed at Ft. Lewis, Washington, he loved the mountains and skiing. We traveled all over the United States and Canada, John skied over 200 different locations and then some were multiple times. He taught the kids, grandkids, Amiee our niece, Jared our nephew and even taught Lisa Griffin a friend that was born and still lives in New Brunswick, Canada how to ski. He also loved to hike the mountains and ride a bike downhill, remember Bear Mountain, James.
John fulfilled my passion of going to Grand Pre, Nova Scotia where we both visited the homeland of our ancestors the Thibodeaux’s and LeBlanc’s. We took you kids to Grand Pre to experience what we loved so passionately.
John loved music across of all genres. In our younger days it was “Fats” which we saw him performing at Shu-tocks place in Cecilia located at 4 corners, it was really a “crying in your beer honky tonk place”. I will never forget that memory plus many others.
In the mid 1990’s John discovered a new passion. He began creating to scale table top museum quality replicas of historical homes, churches, Federal buildings and various other buildings. All 41 pieces were donated to museums, foundations or organizations around the United States and Canada, his last piece was the “Roy House” donated to ULL “Center for Studies” his legacy will continue.
I received the following email message from Mary Perrin, “Oh Shirley!! Oh my, I am so sorry, John was truly a sweetheart, a unique and wonderful man, and so very, very talented. This was such a shock to Warren and me, and it truly brought tears to our eyes. I distinctly remember the first time I met him over 35 years ago when he did some work for us in Broadmoor. I was instantly charmed by this big, vibrant Bermuda shorts-clad sweetie and liked him right away. We will definitely be there to honor our friend on Friday night. God bless you and your whole family.”
Well now we all do remember him ALWAYS wearing shorts. That’s how everyone remembered him, folks always would say “oh yea the guy that wears shorts, white socks and tennis shoes year round” that was my John, your Dad and Poppa. He truly was something else.
Your Dad and Poppa LOVED and was PROUD of each and every one of YOU kids. In his own way he demonstrated his affection by providing you with so many things money, a car, a roof over your head, building a decking, assisting in your education, including you in our travels and vacations. He never EVER asked for anything in returned, except for appreciation for what he did or tried to do for you but most important of all what he wants you to remember to do “is pass it forward to someone else in need.”
There are so many memories that were made involving your Dad, Poppa, brother, Uncle and friend that will sustain ME and each and every one of YOU for a very long time. For me as your Mom or Granny, the time that Dad or Poppa had together was the best “roller coaster ride of my life” with no regrets.
He also told me during this process to tell ALL of you kids that he was so very proud of each and everyone of you and NOT to cry for him - just to remember him and of the times that you spent together.
Now as most of you may know Mardi Gras was His favorite holiday the following piece was one he liked very much. Please join me and our family in celebrating the life of John for this is John’s Day he has gone HOME. This is for you “Hon”. (When the Saints go marching In by Fats Domino music)
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