As I read the obituary of JoPaul Steiner, I was reminded of that beer commercial about “the most interesting man in the world.”

Like the guy in that commercial, JoPaul had done it all: successful businessman, champion swimmer and golfer, accomplished actor and theater operator, a founder of the Senior Olympics, a mainstay at his synagogue, longtime volunteer at Woman’s Hospital — there seemed to be no end to his energy and enthusiasm.

But the end came, at age 96.

At his service at Congregation B’nai Israel, I recalled our many lunches over the years.

They started when he approached me with the idea for a group of golfers in their 80s who would play in charity tournaments and return all their winnings to the sponsoring charities.

He always gave me credit for coming up with the name “Octogenarian Golf Club,” although I suspect it was his creation.

For more than a decade the “old guys” — a collection of fine senior golfers — gave back more than $1 million in winnings to charities.

At our lunches every month or so, he would bring me up to date on the progress of the “Octos,” then talk fondly of his boyhood in Chicago and New Orleans, his adventures in sports and theater, and his family, especially his beloved Sylvia, his wife of 72 years.

It was JoPaul, an avid traveler, who sold me on the joy of Caribbean cruises, something Lady Katherine and I have been doing for years now.

One of the last lines in his obituary summed it up: “He was loved dearly and will be deeply missed.”

The ultimate letdown

Margaret Hawkins says, “At the recent meeting of our ‘Radical Purls’ knitting group in Ponchatoula just after the world was supposed to end (and didn’t), knitter Amy Aymond said, ‘Well, that was just the worst apocalypse ever!’

“A few dropped stitches after that one …”

Specialization blues

Shooter Mullins complains that “it’s getting mighty tough to buy a generic greeting card — they are all in categories.

“You can pick out a nice one, but when you open it you discover it’s only appropriate for the 44th birthday of a fat guy who used to carpool with your brother, or something like that.”

Nostalgia Corner

Annabelle Armstrong says our readers who recalled the big flat “stage plank” cookies of their youth might like to know that the Bet-R Store under the Perkins Road overpass still stocks them:

“I send them to a friend from Loreauville who now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., and cannot find them there.”

Good Samaritans

Nina Carazo Snapp thanks “all the kind people who helped my daughter one morning when she was in an accident on the interstate. Staying there with her until I could reach her was a blessing.”

Nina says her daughter wound up with only a slight concussion and headache “after hitting an 18-wheeler, spinning around twice in rush hour traffic and ending up next to the concrete guard rail going the opposite way. It truly shows God was looking after her.”

Special People Dept.

  • Theophile “June” Blanchard, of Grosse Tete, a World War II veteran, celebrated his 99th birthday Dec. 23.
  • On Sunday Carmen Hebert Fourrier, of Southside Gardens, celebrated her 93rd birthday.
  • Carroll Gromer, of Village Woods, celebrated her 92nd birthday Dec. 25.
  • On Dec. 26 Anna Bozzelle celebrated her 91st birthday. She is a World War II veteran, serving in the South Pacific in the Women’s Army Corps. She currently lives in Gretna, but will move to Baton Rouge this year.
  • Mary Lucy Hebert, of Plaquemine, celebrated her 90th birthday Friday.
  • Edmond “Bubbie” and Hazel Lee, of Sorrento, celebrated their 70th anniversary Dec. 16.
  • Mack and Helen Bruner, of St. Amant, celebrated their 64th anniversary Dec. 26.
  • Paul and Joyce Poche, of Gonzales, celebrated their 60th anniversary Dec. 27.
  • Jim and Wilma Kelly, of Zachary, celebrated their 60th anniversary Dec. 20.
  • The Rev. Jesse Bernard and Verta Lee Bilberry celebrated their 59th anniversary Dec. 23.
  • Nolan and Rosemary Graham celebrated 58 years of marriage Wednesday.
  • On Dec. 22 Maurine and Gaylon Dighton celebrated their 55th anniversary.
  • Luther and Jackie Felps, of Central, celebrated their 50th anniversary Dec. 22.

Thought for the Day

From Jean Navarre: “Anyone who believes man is equal to woman has never seen a man try to wrap a Christmas present.”

Rough translation

Kay Pressley, a preschool teacher at The Runnels School, says, “From across the room I heard my student, Ian Trahan, belting out what sounded like ‘Feliz Navidad.’

“As I got closer I could hear the actual words:

“‘Police…la de da. de da.’”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.