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Living Legends

Doug Villien
Inducted on September 26, 2018

Doug Villien Douglas Villien, Sr. was born October 27, 1950 in Abbeville, Louisiana, the parish seat of Vermilion Parish. In 1968, after graduation from Vermilion Catholic High School, he attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette where he graduated in 1972 with a BA degree in City & Regional Planning and Geography. While attending USL he met his wife, Karen Dubea of Marksville, Louisiana. They were married in August of 1972.

In September, 1972, Doug went to work as a City Planner for the East Baton Rouge City-Parish Planning Commission in Baton Rouge until his retirement in 2001. During his semi-retirement years, he has been a private land planning consultant, an author and volunteer for the LSU Rural Life Museum at Baton Rouge and Boy Scouts of America.

Doug has maintained an interest in genealogy and local history since early childhood. His father, Dr. Paul O. Villien, Sr. of Abbeville kept meticulous ancestry records of family and facts of local history especially that of Maurice, Louisiana. The Village of Maurice was founded by Jean-Maurice Villien, Doug’s great-grandfather.

In 2009, Doug embarked on a project to write a detailed biography about Jean-Maurice Villien. However, the endeavor turned into an in depth research project on the history of the town and its 100 years of growth. In December 2011, Doug’s works were incorporated into an extensive special edition in the Abbeville Meridional, celebrating the village’s 100th birthday. In his book “Between the Crossroads: A Centennial History of Maurice, Louisiana”, Doug chronicles the one hundred year evolution of Maurice and the settlers who came to colonize on Prairie Vermilion. His book was the first to examine the history of this community. In this work he provides an overview of settlers and their role in development of early commerce and institutions. From family collections, ecclesiastical registers, federal census reports and municipal records he unveils a collection of wonderful information about a modern day hamlet in south Louisiana.

In 2012, Doug ventured onto a second book project which was fostered by research conducted on Maurice history. A one hundred year old photo album, preserved by his grandmother, contained dozens of rare and never before published images of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The photo album was given to Maude Gaidry (Villien) by William B. Hart. The two never married, but she kept the album until she died. Following three years of research, the album became the basis for a book entitled, “Forgotten Baton Rouge”, a best seller among history books in the Baton Rouge area. The book covers the progressive period between the 1890s and 1930s, a period of Baton Rouge’s greatest growth. The album is now on permanent display in the Louisiana State Library. The Old State Capitol Museum at Baton Rouge recently held a sixty day exhibit containing images from his grandmother’s album and his book Forgotten Baton Rouge. In 2016 he was a Featured Author and Speaker at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge.

In 2016, Doug completed a third book entitled “The Artwork of Doug Villien: A collection of lifelong sketches”. Doug has been an artist his entire life. He has enjoyed the title of being a “Sunday Artist”, however, he endeavored as a part time commercial artist for more than forty years. Many of the sketches in his book preserve and capture the details of folk life and wildlife in south Louisiana.

In 2018, he finished his fourth book, “Des Montagnes aux Prairies / From Mountains to Prairies”. This work illustrated by Doug, depicts over thirty hand painted scenes. Each scene describes a telling piece of village history which includes narratives about its founder and villagers. The Village of Maurice celebrates its existence of more than a century as a French and English-speaking town in southwest Louisiana. This work is intended to preserve local history and cultural heritage which define its locale. It is presented in French and English for the purpose of advancing and supporting Louisiana’s francophone initiatives.

Doug and his siblings have been supporting members and contributors in the efforts spearheaded by the Maurice Historical Preservation Society. The society now owns and operates Le Musée à Maurice. Le Musée is a true artifact of the village as it was once a part of the home and store of Jean-Maurice Villien.

His works have been featured in Country Roads Magazine, The Meridional, The Daily Advertiser, The Advocate, American Press, Tarentaise Hebdo (Vulmix, France) and other regional newspapers. Doug and his wife Karen have been residents of Baton Rouge and parishioners of St. George Catholic Church for 44 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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