F. O. "Potch" Didier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from F.O. "Potch" Didier)
Jump to: navigation, search
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, Louisiana, United States
Died September 10, 2007(2007-09-10) (aged 87)
Mansura, Avoyelles Parish
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

(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 and convicted of malfeasance in office, and served a seven-day sentence in his own parish jail.[2]

The newspaper publisher Jim R. Levy (born 1934), formerly of the Bunkie Record in Bunkie in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, said that Didier was "the best sheriff Avoyelles Parish ever had."[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Didier was born in 1919 in Marksville, Louisiana, the parish seat of Avoyelles Parish. His family was Cajun: his father was Fabius Didier, Sr. (1895–1970), and his mother was the former Bessie Neck (1896–1977, pronounced NICK).[1] He was reared in the Roman Catholic church. His younger brother Homer Woodall Didier was born in 1921. They attended local schools, which were segregated in those years. Didier graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana, a Methodist institution in Shreveport.

Political career[edit]

He entered local Democratic Party politics in what was then a one-party state, following the Disfranchisement after Reconstruction era|disenfranchisement of blacks]], who had constituted much of the Republican Party. He ran for but was defeated in a school board race. In the 1955 Democratic primary for parish sheriff, he lost the nomination to T. Jack Jeansonne. Four years later, when Didier was 40, he unseated Jeansonne. He was re-elected four times in succession, serving a total of five terms over two decades.

According to Jim R. Levy, publisher of the Bunkie Record, Didier and Parish District Attorney Charles Riddle, Jr., became at odds. Riddle filed charges in 1970 and the case went to trial. John Boatner prosecuted for the DA's office, and Joe Tritiko, a prominent attorney from Lake Charles, 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 resident, former Governor Edwin Washington Edwards, served a ten-year sentence for extortion. Didier ranks second in the late 20th century for notoriety but his malfeasance conviction was for a much lesser crime. Didier's successor as sheriff, Bill Belt, also ran afoul of the law.[3]

Another Avoyelles resident, former Marksville Mayor Raymond Laborde (1958–1970), who served as State Representative (1972–1992), finished his political career as Edwards' last Commissioner of Administration (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. The latter was being challenged for renomination by U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Contents of the conversation were not disclosed.[4] Carter gained a second Democratic nomination, but he lost Louisiana (and the country) to the Republican Ronald W. Reagan.

Didier served five terms; he 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 for the position. Neck was a distant cousin of Didier.[5]

Later years[edit]

After retiring as sheriff, Didier was involved with the Sheriffs Association and similar groups.

Marriages and family[edit]

Didier's second wife and mother of his second-born son Fabius was Julia D. Didier (May 25, 1926–February 20, 2007).[1] In 2007, 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.[6]

His surviving sons are Marcel Furlow Didier (born 1947), formerly of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and wife Lydia M. Didier; and Fabius Anthony Didier (born 1951) and wife, Deborah Dupuy Didier, of Marksville; 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 re-enacted a speech of his grandfather’s at the Marksville bicentennial ceremony.[8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Philip Timothy, "Ex-governor [Edwin Washington Edwards] tops list of colorful parish politicians"". The Town Talk. 18 March 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "End of the rogue: The "Pirate Kingfish" savors his final free days before a jury lowers the boom". Salon. salon.com. 12 May 2000. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ "The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter" (PDF). jimmycarterlibrary.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 14, 2010. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  5. ^ Randy DeCuir, Avoyelles Journal, 1979)
  6. ^ a b "F.O. (Potch) Didier, Jr". hixsonbrothers.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  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". avoyellestoday.com. Retrieved December 20, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "L. O. Kelone and Buford Smith portrayed by Brent Scallan". YouTube. Retrieved July 10, 2009. 
Preceded by
T. Jack Jeansonne
Sheriff of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana

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

Succeeded by
Bill Belt