After a long battle with cancer, former St. Landry Parish District Attorney Morgan J. Goudeau III died Friday afternoon surrounded by his wife of 51 years, Helen, and the couple’s three daughters. He was 87.
Goudeau opened his law office in his hometown of Opelousas in 1952 and became active in politics and the Louisiana Democratic Party. In 1955 he was appointed assistant district attorney for St. Landry Parish and elected D.A. in 1973, serving in that capacity until his retirement in 1997.
After his retirement, he and Helen moved to Lafayette, where he joined the Rotary Club, Crime Stoppers of Acadiana and Holy Cross Catholic Church. The couple also spent time at the Petroleum Club of Lafayette, where they danced every Friday night.
Throughout his life, Goudeau was active in the civic and political affairs of his community, having once served as president of the St. Landry Bar Association. He was co-founder and first president of the Opelousas-Eunice Library and was elected to the board of directors of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. He also served on the board of directors of the Opelousas Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Cattleman’s Association and First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Opelousas, and he served on the board of trustees of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau. He was also a lecturer in criminal justice at LSU-Eunice and the first rector of the Cursillo Movement in the Diocese of Lafayette. He is a past president of the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association and was once the Louisiana representative on the board of directors of the National District Attorney’s Association. He was also the first district attorney to be inducted into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame in 2005.
Goudeau was a lifelong member of the Louisiana Democratic Party and served as President John F. Kennedy’s campaign manager in Southern Louisiana. He also served as a state delegate in several national Democratic conventions and was a vice chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. He was a longtime member of the National Right to Life Association and the Pro-Life Democrats organization.
Goudeau was born in 1929, the oldest child of Morgan J. Goudeau Jr. and Alma Chachere Goudeau. He graduated from the Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Opelousas in 1945 and was co-captain of the 1944 A.I.C. State Champion six-man football team. He also attended Boys’ State, and was active in Boy Scouts, becoming an Eagle Scout in 1944.
He received a bachelor's degree in political science from LSU in 1948 at the age of 18 and was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Social Fraternity and Pi Gamma Mu Honorary Social Science Fraternity. He obtained his juris doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1952, where he was elected to the staff of the Georgetown Law Journal. While attending law school, he worked full time as a U.S. Capitol Police Officer. He was admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia in 1952 and was admitted to practice law in Louisiana in 1952.
Goudeau enjoyed traveling with his wife and family around the U.S. and Europe. As a hobby, he once raised Arabian horses, and he had continued to raise cattle at his farm in Melville. In his later years, he wrote his memoirs as a legacy for his children and grandchildren to cherish. He was a master storyteller and had an incredible memory for details until the end of his life.
Memorial Contributions in his name may be made to the Padre Pio Foundation of America, 463 Main St., Cromwell, CT, 06416 or the Carmelite Monastery, 1250 Carmel Drive, Lafayette, LA 70501.
Goudeau is survived by his and Helen’s three daughters — Helene Goudeau Florence and her husband Rob, Angelle Goudeau MacDougall and her husband Jerry, and Anne Goudeau Forand and her husband Peter. He is also survived by three children from a former marriage, Chantal Goudeau Donne and her husband Roland, Morgan J. Goudeau IV and Christian Marc Goudeau.