Funeral services will be held Wednesday for Pat J. Huval, the longtime restaurateur and former mayor of Henderson. He died Saturday at age 88.
A native of Henderson, Huval grew up in rural Louisiana during the Great Depression. His father died when he was 6 months old, according to his obituary. He dropped out of school in the fourth grade to go to work to help support the family, working as a clerk in the grocery store owned by relative and family friend George Dupuis.
When Huval turned 18, he married Agnes Hebert and the two opened their own grocery store in 1948. To make ends meet, Huval worked on dredging boats in the evenings.
They added crawfish and seafood dishes to their menu, gradually building up a local following. He eventually had the means to buy Henry Guidry’s dance hall/restaurant in the early '50s. They sold that building and in 1952 bought another, which was to become Pat’s Restaurant.
Travelers stopping off from Interstate 10 can still have dinner at Pat’s, dance next door in the Atchafalaya Club, and spend the night at Pat’s Edgewater Inn.
Since the early 1960’s, the restaurant’s close proximity to Baton Rouge and the catfish and crawfish meals were a natural draw for Louisiana politicians.
As the business grew, Huval attracted the attention of then-Sen. Paul Hardy and Gov. John McKeithen, who served from 1964-1972. Under their tutelage, Huval campaigned and was elected mayor of Henderson, a position he held for nearly 22 years.
He served on the board of directors of Farmer’s and Merchant’s Bank for over 19 years. During the 1990’s, he was appointed by then Gov. Edwin Edwards to the Atchafalaya Levee Board.
As mayor of Henderson, one of his first goals was to improve the roads. He spearheaded the construction of a city hall and a local jail, the incorporation of Henderson into a town, and the creation of a 20-acre park.
A volunteer firefighter, Henderson was instrumental in creating a fire department. He instituted the first municipal trash services.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Henderson.
Visiting hours be observed at Pellerin Funeral Home in Breaux Bridge on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Interment is at St. Michael the Archangel Cemetery in Henderson.