Richard Anthony Darcé

Thursday, July 18, 2019
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Richard Anthony Darcé, 86, a longtime resident of Jennings, died July 15, 2019, in Jennings American Legion Hospital following a brief battle with cancer.

Visitation will be held at Miguez Funeral Home in Jennings from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, 2019, followed by a 3 p.m. funeral mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church in Jennings.

Interment will be at a later date at the veteran’s cemetery in Jennings.

Richard moved to the southwestern Louisiana city in 1967 with his family to work as a draftsman at Zigler Shipyard (now Gulf Island Shipyards) in Mermentau, where he helped design countless supply boats, tug boats, barges and other types of vessels during the oil boom years of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Richard was born on March 5, 1933, in Rayne to Victor Joseph and Felide Landry Darcé. His early years were marked by struggle. His oldest brother, Victor Darcé Jr., was stricken by polio in the late 1930s. On Feb. 12, 1941, his father, a rural route mail carrier, died of complications related to type 1 diabetes when Richard was only 8 years old. Richard, his mother and his two older brothers, Victor and Roland Darcé, worked hard to maintain the family dairy farm which was located on rural property between Rayne and Crowley near the Highway 90 overpass. But within a few months of the senior Victor’s death, the United States was drawn into World War II. As wartime rationing intensified, fuel, farm supplies and equipment became scarce and the family business eventually failed.

After graduating from Rayne High School in 1951, Richard enlisted in the Marine Corps alongside his best friend, former Rayne Mayor Ralph Stutes, and served overseas during the Korean War as a radio operator.

Following three years of military service, he returned to Rayne where he met his future wife, Audrey Mier, while on a blind double date with Ralph. It was love at first sight for Richard, but the courtship lasted seven years. The couple finally wed in 1960.

At the urging of his brother, Roland, Richard began studying drafting at a local trade school and landed a job at McDermott Shipyard in Morgan City where he began developing his ship drafting skills under his brother’s guidance. It was the start of a three-decade career in the Gulf Coast shipbuilding industry which eventually took Richard to Jennings, where he and Audrey settled and raised their three children, Michele and twins Keith and Kristina. His career choice was one of practicality over passion - a way to provide a stable home and a reliable salary for his growing family, instead of the itinerant and uncertain life that he knew often came with his dream job, working as a high school band director. Later in life, he was employed at the Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder until his retirement.

Second only to his love for his wife and family, Richard’s other great lifelong passion was music, which was nurtured by his mother, who was both a trained pianist and a church organist. As a young boy, Richard often sang popular songs for family and friends. But his favorite venue was the bleachers at the minor league baseball field in Crowley where he would deliver impromptu performances for other fans during breaks in the games at the urging of his father. In high school, Richard was a fixture in the chorus. He played sousaphone in the first marching band to take the field in Rayne following the war and he played trumpet and sang in an after-school dance band that he organized with friends.

Richard was a vivid and prolific storyteller, as well as a voracious consumer of local, national and international journalism. His intensely curious mind made him an avid, lifelong reader of fiction and non-fiction, and it fed a wide palette of interests that ranged from astronomy, meteorology and archeology to politics, sports and engineering. National Geographic magazines and encyclopedias were constant fixtures in his home.

He was a lifelong devout Catholic who also enjoyed fishing, cheering on the New Orleans Saints and the LSU Tigers, and grilling meats and boiling crawfish for family get-togethers.

He never tired of expressing his love and pride for his two grandchildren, Elyssa Loewer Luke and Tyler Loewer, even carrying a special well-worn grandpa coin in his pocket through his last days.

But without a doubt, the center of his world was his wife Audrey. Their almost 59-year-long marriage was a love affair of the heart and mind. When he wasn’t at work, Richard was at Audrey’s side. Each day they were together, they kissed, held hands and exchanged multiple “I love yous.” And in their later years, as Audrey’s health became more of an issue, Richard’s constant care and attention only intensified. Through decades of dramatic social and economic fluidity, their love was a remarkable island of stability and complete devotion.

Richard Darcé is survived by his wife, Audrey Mier Darcé of Jennings; daughters Michele Darcé Lyman (fianceé of Michael Conroy) of Lafayette and Kristina Darcé Loewer (married to Michael Loewer) of Denham Springs; son Keith Darcé (married to Tim Riley) of San Diego; granddaughter Elyssa Loewer Luke (married to Justin Luke) of Baton Rouge; grandson Tyler Loewer of Baton Rouge; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers.

Pallbearers are Keith Darcé, son; Michael Loewer, son-in-law; Tim Riley, son-in-law; Tyler Loewer, grandson; Justin Luke, grandson-in-law; and Michael Conroy, future son-in-law.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making contributions to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, www.stjude.org, by calling 800-822-6344 or mailing to 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105

Words of comfort may be expressed to the family at www.miguezfuneralhome.com.

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