Memorial services begin on Wednesday for former Eunice Mayor Claud “Rusty” Moody, who died Tuesday morning after a recent and aggressive pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
Moody, 71, worked for four decades in the St. Landry Parish School System, retiring as assistant superintendent of operations before his election to the mayoral post in 2010. After winning 69 percent of the vote in a runoff election that year, he ran unopposed in 2014 and began his second term in January.
“When he came in office, his main goal was unity — bringing people back together in the community,” said interim Mayor Scott Fontenot, who served as mayor pro tem and the Ward 4 alderman before his appointment to Moody’s vacant post. Moody resigned in October.
“He always kept everybody informed with what was going on. We became very close friends, and I’m definitely going to miss him,” Fontenot said.
The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday appointed Connie Thibodeaux, a lifelong Eunice resident and local business owner, to fill Fontenot’s vacant alderman post. Both the mayoral and Ward 4 alderman positions will be on the ballot in a special election scheduled March 5.
During Moody’s tenure, the city used $1 million from the 2000 Union Pacific train derailment settlement to rehabilitate Eunice City Park and restock it for recreational fishing, Fontenot said. Moody also helped restart a youth tackle football program, refurbish an unused football field and had begun exploring additional installations at the city’s recreation center.
“He was always interested in what was best for the children of Eunice,” Fontenot said.
Along with his involvement in establishing Eunice’s community garden on Ash Street, he also helped bring a Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles outpost to a defunct hospital facility in the city.
Visitation will be held Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Quirk & Son Funeral Home, with a memory-sharing ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. Visitation will continue Thursday at 8 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral service, with burial to follow at St. Thomas More Cemetery in Eunice.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.