Manning Francis Billeaud Jr. — “Bozo” to family, friends and throughout the local construction business — died at home Thursday, Jan. 28, at the age of 88. For 55 years, Bozo worked for JB Mouton & Sons — the general contracting firm founded by his maternal grandfather 100 years ago — serving as its president for 22 years before retiring in 2003.
During Bozo's career, the company completed about 300 building projects, including construction of Chase Tower, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church and Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Broussard. Lafayette-based JB Mouton is now a fifth-generation general contracting business.
Bozo, a native of Lafayette, was the child of Manning Francis Billeaud Sr. and Jeanne Mouton Billeaud. He attended elementary school and junior high at Cathedral School and graduated high school from St. Joseph Seminary College, also known as St. Ben’s Seminary, near Covington.
He served in the U.S. Navy on an infantry support vessel in the final months of World War II. After completing his military service, he earned a civil engineering degree from LSU. In 1948, he began working alongside two uncles at J.B. Mouton & Sons.
Bozo also held leadership positions in the Association of General Contractors and was instrumental in consolidating the industry group’s chapters across Louisiana that had previously been run independently. He also served on the board of the Billeaud Companies for many years.
He served as a national governor of the Serra Club, a Catholic group that promotes the priesthood and religious life. He was also a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and a member of the governing board for Our Lady of Fatima School.
Bozo was preceded in death by two sons, Edward J. Billeaud and Martin F. Billeaud.
The commercial builder was the father to 17 children. He was a grandfather of 28 children and great-grandfather of seven children.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mildred Marie Louise Martin Billeaud, who died 17 months ago. The couple was married for nearly 65 years.
His surviving children are Jeanne Billeaud, Louise Fryklund, Robert Paul Billeaud, Manning F. Billeaud III, Suzanne Hebert, Andre Billeaud, Valerie Billeaud, Marguerite Fisher, Therese LeBlanc, Lawrence Billeaud, Claire Billeaud, Philip Billeaud, Germaine Gjertson, Jacques Billeaud and Nicole Billeaud.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Carmelite Monastery, 1250 Carmel Drive, Lafayette, LA, 70501, Saint Joseph Seminary College, 75376 River Road, St. Benedict, LA, 70457, or to any charity.