Long-time Opelousas native and resident, Estelle Mason Perrault, died on Christmas Sunday, December 25, 2022, at the age of 97. Estelle was deeply devoted to her family and community. She was fondly referred to as the “Nan of The Whole Wide World,” and she earned and owned that title, leaving those in her orbit feeling more loved and like a special part of her world. She was a consummate learner and educator. She lived life unapologetically on her own terms. Estelle was born in Opelousas on June 20, 1925, to Dr. Arthur Jackson Perrault and Aline Castille Perrault. She graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana at Lafayette), and received her master’s degree in chemistry from Tulane University in New Orleans. After traveling and working abroad in Paris, she returned home to care for her mother after her father’s untimely death. As with everything in her life, she committed herself wholeheartedly to that task, supporting her mother’s devotional activities and inviting her mother along on worldwide adventures, from Mexico to Europe to Alabama, where they made regular pilgrimages to Mother Angelica’s shrine. Estelle was deeply committed to learning and educating young people, and held various positions in academia. She taught chemistry at USL for 13 years, where she helped develop the nursing and physical science programs. She was a founding administrator of Louisiana State University - Eunice. She helped transition Delgado trade school into Delgado Community College in New Orleans and held critical administrative roles there. She taught at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans and Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, and was a principal at Cherry Street Elementary School in Opelousas. She served on several educational boards for the state. Throughout her life, she remained connected to many of the hundreds of people she influenced as an educator. Estelle, a prominent genealogist, helped found the Imperial St. Landry Genealogical and Historical Society and served for years as its president. People worldwide contacted her for information about their families, and she never tired of providing research on their behalf. For over 80 years, Estelle was deeply involved with the Opelousas Public Library, first as a Girl Scout addressing the St. Landry Parish Council in favor of expanding the library, and much later as a member, then President, of the library board. She was also President of the Opelousas Little Theater for 10 years. She served on the board of the Opelousas Museum of Art and the board of the St. Landry Preservation Society. She was an active member of the Opelousas Rotary Club, and chairperson of the Myrtle Grove Cemetery Board. She was also a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Darwin Society, Les Dames D’Etude, and Pilot International. Her many hobbies included camping and fishing, crossword puzzles, genealogy, RV travel, caring for cats, listening to opera, and reading. Estelle received numerous awards, including the James O. Modisette award for outstanding library trustee and Phi Kappa Phi recognition for academic and scholastic excellence. In 2004, she received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Opelousas-St. Landry Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, she was among the first class of inductees into the St. Landry Parish Women’s Hall of Fame. Mostly, Estelle simply loved being with her family, who adored and admired her and claimed her as a “bonus” parent. Her life-long influence on them cannot be overstated. She will be deeply missed by friends and family who appreciated her unwavering commitment to making her community, and the world, a better place.
Estelle is survived by her brother, Charles “Swatty” Perrault and wife Carolyn; her sister-in-law Judy Perrault and her “adopted” sister Clare Giesen; and her many nieces and nephews, all of whom she claimed as her own, including Jackson Perrault, William C. Perrault and wife Dina, Anne M. Perrault and husband Peter Philip Marra, Christopher A. Perrault and wife Amanda Perkins, Laura Estelle Perrault, and Thomas M. Perrault and husband Sal Giambanco, Charles Perrault and wife Jeanne, Mary Perrault and husband Ben Williams, Stephen Perrault and partner David Faul, Michael Perrault and wife Julie. She is also survived by numerous grand nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Lucius Mason Perrault and Arthur Jackson “Jack” Perrault, and Nita “Cookie” Thibodeaux.
Her family is extremely grateful for her many longtime friends, especially Carolyn Jarrell, Nela Badeaux, Jackie Choate, and Cyndi Briley, all of whom devotedly cared for and visited “Nan” at her studio and the Prompt Succor Nursing Home. They are also thankful for extended family members Kathryn Jackson, Frances Bertelli, Martha Darwin Palmer, and other dear members of the Darwin family who have loved and cared for Nan over the years.
Funeral services for Estelle Mason Perrault will be held on Friday, December 30, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. in the Skip Montet Memorial Chapel at Lafond-Ardoin Funeral Home in Opelousas, LA. Bishop C. Michael Jarrell will conduct the service. Rite of Committal and interment will be held following the service at Bellevue Memorial Park in Opelousas.
Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on Friday, December 30, 2022, at Lafond-Ardoin Funeral Home in Opelousas.
Family and friends are invited to sign and view the online guestbook at www.lafondardoin.com.
LaFond-Ardoin Funeral Home of Opelousas, 2845 South Union Street, Opelousas, LA 70570 (337-942-2638) has been entrusted with the funeral arrangements.