Summertime memories of chlorine-died green hair, Frito pies, baseball games, tennis lessons and late-night dances echoed in the halls of the St. Amant Recreational Center as hundreds gathered on Dec. 22 to rename St. Amant Park as the Roger J. Clouatre Memorial Park.
While the Parish Council approved the renaming earlier this year, friends and family gathered last week to officially rename the park in memory of one of the men who pushed to make the once-private park a public property.
The ceremony highlighted the love and laughter of a lifetime as friends and family remembered days at the St. Amant Park with Roger James Clouatre. Brothers Robert Clouatre and Randy Clouatre Sr. welcomed guests and recognized present elected officials.
The Rev. Tom Ranzino, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge and pastor of St. Jean Vianney Church in Baton Rouge, gave the opening invocation. Roger Clouatre’s grandchildren led in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Parish President Tommy Martinez credited Clouatre with making the park available to parish residents and commented on the large number of Clouatres in attendance.
“It’s kind of tough being the only non-Clouatre on the agenda,” Martinez said. “Without the help of Roger Clouatre, we would not be here today.”
The park was first formed in 1968 as St. Amant Properties Inc. and led by a board of 20 members, presided by Perry Sheets. The park, previously cow pasture, bordered the land of the Clouatre family. In 1995, SPI sold the park to Ascension Parish at the urging of Roger Clouatre, who saw it renovated before his death in 2001.
Clouatre was a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and avid volunteer who led Ascension Parish in initiatives such as the Ascension Parish Trash Bash, Chem Friends, Physics Fun Fest, Library Technology Center, Parish Science Fair, Boy Scout food drives, Volunteer Ascension School Tools Drive, Junior Achievement and Teacher and Student Shadow Days.
He was a member of the Quad Area Community Action Agency board of directors, Ascension Parish Home Rule Charter Committee, East Ascension Drainage Committee and board of directors of St. Amant Properties. He was a two-term member of the Ascension Parish School Board and a 25-year employee of Vulcan Chemicals.
He was recipient of the 1999 Ascension Parish Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year award and the 1999 Vulcan Chemicals Volunteer of the Year award.
“This place truly needs to be called the Roger Clouatre Park not only for what he did, but for who he was. He was a great human being,” Martinez said.
Today, the park has a reception hall, three lighted ball fields, two batting cages, walking paths and camping grounds.
“It’s a place where we learned to laugh and cry. A place where we could tell mom and dad that we were going to the park. It was the training ground for life. It was a place where we could meet people from the big city of Gonzales or Sorrento, even as far away as Dutchtown. It was a place where people came to Roger with problems and left with solutions,” William Clouatre said.
At the end of the ceremony, Roger Clouatre’s wife, Katherine LeBourgeois Clouatre, and children Lt. Col. Spencer Clouatre, Styles Clouatre, Stuart Clouatre and Stephanie Leah Clouatre-Davis recounted some of their favorite memories of being at the park.
“Our family has a common mission: making a place where little feet can run and play and learn to become strong women and men,” Stephanie Clouatre-Davis said.
The renaming of the St. Amant Park tells the story of one man’s mission to make the world a better place.
“Roger only wanted to help people and give them a reason to be together. This event — it’s like coming back to life. His spirit is here,” Katherine Clouatre said.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on Dec. 30 to correct Roger Clouatre’s veteran’s information and Spencer Clouatre’s rank.