Mary Tutwiler

Richard Guidry dies at 58

by Mary Tutwiler

An ambassador in the movement to preserve French language and culture in Louisiana has died. Richard Guidry was only 58, but he had already filled a long lifespan of activism, scholarship and teaching before his untimely death of a pulmonary aneurism, this week. A graduate of UL, Guidry became a French teacher in St. Martin Parish. He quickly became a spokesperson for the integration of Cajun and Creole French in the educational process. “He and I got in a heap of trouble,” says folklorist Barry Ancelet. “Richard had a short fuse. Even in those times when he blew up it was always motivated from an exquisite sense of justice. He couldn’t stand to see something be done wrong. I’ve never been more proud to stand side by side with someone in a war.”

Guidry had a meticulous knowledge of Louisiana French dialects. He studied subtle differences from Beaumont to Pierre Part and Avoyelles to the Gulf. “He learned Louisiana dialects in all their marvelous variety,” says Ancelet. “He was a very valued consultant on our project to do a dictionary of Louisiana French as it is spoken. Sitting at a table with him was like sitting with a dictionary that could talk. He was even faster than a find function on a computer.”
“I’ve known a lot of people who leave holes when they pass away, but I don’t know anybody whose going to leave a bigger hole than Richard,” Ancelet adds. “He had a huge heart. He was quick to laugh, quick to cry, quick to show you that he loved you. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more loyal, faithful, open or generous friend.”

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 2, 2008, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Gueydan. Visitation will be at Matthews and Sons in Gueydan on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to the time of the service. A rosary will be prayed in French Friday at 7:00 p.m.