R. Reese Fuller

Uncle Donald exits the stage

by R. Reese Fuller

He was airplane-flyin', limousine-drivin', 6-foot fivin', totally live and full of jive. Donald James Senegal - widely known in Lafayette as Uncle Donald - passed away on Monday, March 31, at our Lady of Lourdes of Hospital in Lafayette. He was 66 years old.

The self-proclaimed No. 1 emcee of Lafayette worked the crowds for the likes of zydeco greats Clifton Chenier and Rockin' Dopsie, as well as Lightin' Hopkins, Lil' Buck and the Top Cats, the Cowboy Stew Revue and even his own band in the '70s — Love Ltd. Orchestra.

In October, local musicians gathered for Donalroo, a benefit at Grant Street Dancehall to help Senegal offset mounting medical expenses. Performers included like Lil' Buck Sinegal, Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural, Sonny Landreth, Steve Riley, C.C. Adcock, Curley Taylor, and Rockin' Dopsie Jr.

Visitation will be held at Syrie Funeral Home, 1417 E. Simcoe St. in Lafayette, on Friday from 5 until 9 p.m., and on Saturday from 7 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. A funeral service will follow at 11 a.m. at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 818 12th St.

A show at Grant Street Dancehall on April 11  with Lil' Buck Sinegal and Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural will pay tribute to Donald Senegal's life and legacy.

(photo courtesy of M. Hardy)