Mary Alice Fontenot *
Inducted on April 19, 2003
Mary Alice Fontenot was born April 16, 1910 in rural Acadia Parish, just outside the town of Eunice, Louisiana. Her parents were Kate King of Bienville and Valery Barras of rural Vermilion Parish. Mrs. Fontenot remembers that as a child she often took the train to Erath, where her grandfather, Aristide Barras, picked her up in his buggy and took her to spend time at the Barras farm on Bayou Tigre. These experiences formed the basis of Mrs. Fontenot’s children’s novel, The Ghost of Bayou Tigre, which is now out of print.
Mary Alice worked for many years as a journalist, writing for the Crowley Signal, New Era (Eunice), Daily Advertiser (Lafayette), Iberville South (Plaquemine), Rayne Acadian Tribune, Daily World (Opelousas), Church Point News, and the Crowley Post Signal. She has also written features for many newspapers and periodicals, including the Morning Advocate and Acadiana Profile. For several years she hosted a radio program on KSIG in Crowley.
Mary Alice Fontenot is best known as the creator of the Clovis Crawfish series of children’s books. The seventeenth book in the series, Clovis Crawfish and Echo Gecko, came out in February. The eighteenth book, Clovis Crawfish and Silvie Sulphur, is now in production. The series is published by Pelican Publishing Co. of Gretna and many books in the series are available in French and on audio cassette. Other children’s books are Mardi Gras in the Country, Tah-Tye, The Last Possum in the Pouch, and The Star Seed.
Mrs. Fontenot has also written a two-volume history of Acadia Parish, the first volume with Rev. Paul Freeland); The Cat and St. Landry (with Vincent Riehl), a biography of St. Landry Parish Sheriff D.J. “Cat” Doucet; The Louisiana Experience (with Julie Landry); and The Tensas Story (with Edith Ziegler).
Mrs. Fontenot has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Acadiana Arts Council Lifetime Achievement Award and the Louisiana State Library’s Honorary Young Readers Choice Award. She was named a Louisiana Legend by Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Generations of readers in Acadiana and beyond have been enriched by Mrs. Fontenot’s stories and her work in preserving south Louisiana history, culture, language, and genealogy.