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Living Legends Program

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The Acadian Museum
203 South Broadway
Erath, Louisiana 70533
info@acadianmuseum.com
(337) 456-7729

 
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Living Legends

Richard Landry
Inducted on December 15, 2018

Richard Landry Richard Carl Landry was born on January 31,1953 to Golden and Edna Picard Landry, both Vermilion Parish natives; Golden from Kaplan and Edna from Maurice. Due to Golden being in the Army at the time, Richard was born a Texan, at Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX. A few weeks after his birth, however, the family did return to Maurice, Louisiana.

Landry graduated from Maurice High School in 1971, and earned a sociology degree from USL, now UL Lafayette, in August, 1974. While at USL, he met and married Susan Lopez from Lafayette.

During his college years, Landry was a member of the Maurice Volunteer Fire Department, having attained the position of 2nd Captain. It was during those years as a volunteer fireman that Landry came to appreciate the value of community service.

Landry began employment with the State of Louisiana in September, 1974, in a social service position. In 1990, he felt the need to expand his capacity to serve, so he began graduate studies at LSU, part-time, as an older, "non-traditional" student. He earned a Masters Degree in Social Work in 1993. During this time that he realized he was losing his fluency in Cajun French, which he had learned from his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. He found himself having to ask a parent or grandparent about certain words which he had forgotten the French translation. In order to increase his use of the language, he joined Le Theatre Cadien, a local Cajun French theater group. The group performed plays in Cajun French throughout the area, and this allowed for a more regular use of French, besides the secondary benefit of doing his part to preserve the language. Performing with Le Theatre Cadien opened the door for opportunities to appear on stage at Abbey Players Theater, and later, including the present time, with Woodlawn Players.

When the Acadian Memorial in St. Martinville opened approximately 20 years ago, a project was begun to attempt to bring some of Robert Dafford's mural characters to life as yet another effort toward preservation. This continues today, as Richard performs a monologue as Joseph "Beausoleil" Broussard, and he and other former Theatre Cadien members perform a vignette about one of the other persons depicted in the mural. They perform at the Memorial on special holidays, and have performed for some French immersion classes.

A few years ago, Landry joined Renaissance Cadienne, a local French folklore touring group, who perform songs and dances which have been brought to Louisiana from France and Canada. Yet another opportunity presented itself as one of the organizers of the New Iberia Spanish Festival invited Landry to be involved in that festival's re-enactment of the arrival of the Spanish settlers in the New Iberia area. Landry portrays an Acadian man welcoming the new settlers.

Cultural preservation and historic preservation go hand-in-hand, so when Landry heard about the effort by a small, but determined group, to save the oldest building in Maurice, he joined the group. Though facing some challenges, the Maurice Historical Preservation Society did succeed in saving the building from demolition. The building, the original mercantile store of the town's founder Jean Maurice Villien, has been restored, with efforts ongoing toward establishing a museum, Le Musée a Maurice.

Landry retired from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals/Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities in October, 2016, after 42 years of state service. Since retiring, Landry has continued his involvement in the museum project, which includes two French Table gatherings monthly. He also volunteers weekly at the Visitor Center at the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Center, where he provides information about Acadiana's treasures to people from throughout the world—often utilizing his French language.

In November, 2018, Richard and Susan celebrated 44 years of marriage in Lafayette where they reside, as does their son, Steven.
 

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