F. O. "Potch" Didier

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Fabius Odell "Potch" Didier, Jr.
Sheriff of Avoyelles Parish
Louisiana, USA
In office
1960 – July 1980
Preceded by T. Jack Jeansonne
Succeeded by Bill Belt
Personal details
Born (1919-11-17)November 17, 1919
Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, United States
Died September 10, 2007(2007-09-10) (aged 87)
Mansura, Avoyelles Parish
Resting place Cremation
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) (1) Missing

(2) Julia D. Didier

Children Marcel Furlow Didier

Fabius Anthony Didier
Grandchildren:
Damon Anthony Didier
Shanti Marie Odom

Alma mater Centenary College of Louisiana
Occupation Law-enforcement officer
Religion Roman Catholic
(1) Didier's trial for malfeasance in office was one of the most sensational events to have occurred in his native Avoyelles Parish. He was given a seven-day sentence in his own jail, an event which received national publicity.

(2) Didier’s grandson, Damon Anthony Didier, portrayed his grandfather at the bicentennial ceremony in Marksville in 2009.

Fabius Odell Didier, Jr., known as Potch Didier (November 17, 1919–September 10, 2007),[1] was a flamboyant Democratic sheriff of Avoyelles Parish in south Central Louisiana, who served from 1960 to 1980. In 1970, Didier (pronounced DID E A) was tried, convicted and served a seven-day sentence in his own jail for malfeasance in office.[2]

The newspaper publisher Jim R. Levy (born 1934), formerly of the Bunkie Record in Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, proclaims Didier "the best sheriff Avoyelles Parish ever had." According to Levy, Didier and District Attorney Charles Riddle, Jr., were at odds. Charges were filed, and the case went to trial. John Boatner prosecuted for the DA's office, and Joe Tritiko, a prominent attorney from Lake Charles, the seat of Calcasieu Parish, was the defense counsel for Didier.[2] Levy explains:

It was the biggest trial in the parish, It was an amazing spectacle. When it was all over, Potch was sentenced to ninety days in the parish jail, meaning he would only have to serve 45 days. He ended up serving just seven days with good behavior, which he would serve in his own jail (in the parish seat of Marksville). I remember that first night he began his sentence, he cooked an andouille gumbo. He served his sentence, and eventually everything got back to normal, In fact, he was re-elected... again in 1972 and 1975.[2]

Avoyelles Parish has been known for political corruption. Its best-known local citizen, former Governor Edwin Washington Edwards, served a ten-year sentence for extortion. Didier ranks second in recent notoriety though his malfeasance conviction was a crime of far less proportions. Didier's successor as sheriff, Bill Belt, also ran afoul of the law.[3] Another Avoyelles resident, former Marksville Mayor (1958–1970) and State Representative (1972–1992) Raymond Laborde, finished his political tenure as Edwards' last commissioner of administrator (1992–1996). Laborde, however, was known for his "good-government" policies. In 1972, he once temporarily blocked a tax increase sought by Edwards, a friend from childhood. Laborde still operates his Raymond’s Department Store, which he opened in Marksville in 1949.[2]

On New Years Day, 1980, Didier, as the outgoing president of the politically influential Louisiana Sheriff's Association and a lame duck sheriff, had a telephone conversation with U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who was then being challenged for renomination by U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Contents of the conversation were not disclosed.[4] While Carter went on to gain a second Democratic nomination, he lost Louisiana (and the country) to the Republican Ronald W. Reagan.

Background[edit]

Didier was born in Marksville to Fabius Didier, Sr. (1895–1970), and the former Bessie Neck (1896–1977, pronounced NICK).[1] He graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana, a Methodist institution in Shreveport. He was defeated in a school board race and then lost the nomination for sheriff in the 1955 primary to T. Jack Jeansonne. Four years later, Didier unseated Jeansonne. After five terms, Didier did not seek reelection in the nonpartisan blanket primary held in October 1979; he was succeeded by Bill Belt, who defeated Marksville Police Chief Mike Neck, a distant cousin of Didier's.[5]

Didier's second wife and mother of his second-born son was Julia D. Didier (May 25, 1926–February 20, 2007).[1] Twenty-seven years after his retirement as sheriff and some six months after Julia's death, Didier died at a nursing home in Mansura two months before what would have been his 88th birthday. His surviving sons are Fabius Anthony Didier (born 1951) and wife, Deborah Dupuy Didier, of Marksville, and Marcel Furlow Didier (born 1947), formerly of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and wife Lydia M. Didier; a brother, Homer Woodall Didier (born 1921) and wife, the former Ruby Nell Bond, of Denham Springs in Livingston Parish, and two grandchildren, Damon Anthony Didier (born 1979), then of Plaucheville, and Shanti Marie Didier Odom (born 1981), then of Alexandria. Memorial services were held on September 20, 2007, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Marksville. Didier was cremated.[6][7]

In the summer of 2009, Damon Didier duplicated a speech of his grandfather’s at the Marksville bicentennial ceremony.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Philip Timothy, "Ex-governor [Edwin Washington Edwards] tops list of colorful parish politicians"". The Town Talk, March 18, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  3. ^ "End of the rogue: The "Pirate Kingfish" savors his final free days before a jury lowers the boom, May 12, 2000". salon.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ "The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter". jimmycarterlibrary.org. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  5. ^ Randy DeCuir, Avoyelles Journal, 1979)
  6. ^ "F.O. (Potch) Didier, Jr.". hixsonbrothers.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  7. ^ People Search and Background Check; Net Detective People Search
  8. ^ "Past political figures come alive in stump speaking skit: Potch Didier, Earl Long, acted by Gil Browning, Huey Long, acted by Charles Riddle III, (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGP7wXaNzBE), L. O. Kelone, and Buford Smith portrayed by Brent Scallan, July 10, 2009". avoyellestoday.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
Preceded by
T. Jack Jeansonne
Sheriff of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana

Fabius Odell "Potch" Didier, Jr.
1960–1980

Succeeded by
Bill Belt