Emelia “Me-Min” Chabert Pitre left this life as quietly and nobly as she lived for 95 years. COVID-19 swept her away on a beautiful sunny day, September 25, 2021, just weeks after Hurricane Ida knocked down a large tree on her beloved simple home in the French Cajun village of Cut Off, in Louisiana.
Me-Min was a child of the Great Depression, born October 19, 1925 in Cut Off. She was the third child and eldest daughter of Charles Chabert and Elia Terrebonne. She spoke French as her mother tongue, learned English in school, and came of age during World War II. She graduated from Cut Off High School and rejected a scholarship offer to the Southwest Louisiana Institute (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette). Instead, she attended Spencer Business College in New Orleans, where her typing was too slow for secretarial work, so she trained as an accountant. At the end of the war in 1945, she married her inimitable lover, Loulan Pitre. She raised four sons, but she always mourned the loss of her only daughter, Kathleen, who lived for three days.
Above all, she believed in simplicity and frugality. She carried herself with an elegance more commonly accompanied by wealth or fame, neither of which interested her. She refused ornaments and never threw away food, not even a small amount of rice. Her calm, quiet intelligence offered a worthy counterpoint to her more demonstrative husband. She asked such serious philosophical questions as “What is money but paper?” and as light as “What’s a pun, son?” In 1970, she stubbornly accepted job demotion by the United States Census for refusing to misrepresent the tally. She then started a small business selling stationery and wedding invitations. Her method of cooking okra and her definition of “Cajun” were featured by The New York Times in 1976, and she frequently starred in her son’s movies, but only because he asked. She later became the CFO/accountant of her son’s Internet business and movie distribution company, where she learned to use a computer, but amusingly called it “they”. She told her boys—Holland, Wayne, Glen, and Loulan Jr.—that they could do whatever they wanted despite humble resources. She seeks neither to push nor to curb the ambitions and wanderings of her four sons. She was loyal to them since they each obtained a bachelor’s degree and more: the first an MD, the second another MD, the third an honorary doctorate. and a Chevalier de France, and the youngest son a JD. She always welcomed them with open arms and interrupted each departure with “But you just arrived.” She was even more loyal (sometimes to the confusion of her sons) to Loulan Sr., her defiant husband of 65 years. She was kind and patient, traits memorable to all who knew her. His passing is a huge loss, but his life a greater inspiration.
Me-Min was predeceased by her husband, Loulan, and is survived by four sons, Holland Pitre, MD and his wife Melanie, Wayne Pitre, MD and his wife Marie, Glen Pitre and his wife Michelle Benoit; and former State Representative Loulan Pitre, Jr., JD and his wife Tiffany; by seven grandchildren, Gannon, Laura, Jason, Emilie, Mathieu, Loulan III and namesake Ellen Emelia; by three great-grandchildren, Nicholas, Audrey and Marigny; and by two sisters, Nina Bourg and Dora Curole.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 15300 West Main Street, Cut Off, Louisiana. Visitation will begin at 9:00 a.m., followed by Mass at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, you may send a donation in Emelia Chabert Pitre’s name to your choice of the LSU Foundation or the Harvard College Fund.