ST. MARTINVILLE — Former state Rep. Sydnie Mae Maraist Durand died Tuesday.

She was 77.

St. Martin Parish President Guy Cormier called Durand a “gem” who will be remembered for her dedication to the elderly and the underprivileged.

“I think the thing that set her apart from everyone else was her willingness to serve,” Cormier said.

In 1991, Durand became the first woman elected to serve as a state representative for District 46 following her retirement from working in the Lafayette oil industry for 37 years, according to her obituary.

Cormier said it was one of the many “firsts” in Durand’s life.

Previously, Durand had been the first woman elected to the St. Martin Parish Police Jury, the parish’s first woman to serve as Police Jury president and the first woman to be elected to parishwide office in St. Martin Parish.

“She was kind of like a mentor to a lot of us who were serving (the public) and she stayed in touch with all of us,” Cormier said.

During her term in the Legislature, Durand served as chairwoman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, and on the House Executive Committee, according to her obituary.

She was appointed to serve as a member of the Children, Families & Health Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures Assembly on State Issues, the Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference, Committee on Tax Structures, Women’s Policy and Research Commission, Regional Trauma Patient Care Statewide System Task Force, Governor’s Commission on Disability Affairs and the Louisiana Women’s Policy and Research Commission, her obituary said.

In 2002, she received the Fleur De Lis Healthcare Leadership Award and had received the Friend of Physical Therapy Award.

She studied environmental training at the University of Southwestern Louisiana.

Funeral services are pending.

Pellerin Funeral Home in St. Martinville is in charge of arrangements.