Air Force vet honors Legion, late wife with mural on post building

Thibodaux, LA

Clovis Ordogne did something his late wife, Judy, would have never believed. He had a mural commissioned on the outside of the American Legion Post 11 in Thibodaux, La., in her honor.

Clovis is an Air Force veteran who, among other jobs, served running supplies to the Germans during Stalin's Berlin Blockade after World War II.

Clovis and Judy met in 1979 at the restaurant where she was working at the time and hit it off. They shared that distinct Louisiana love for Saints football. They went to see some games at the Superdome. They both spoke French. He was a member of the Legion. She was a member of the Auxiliary. Just about every Friday they’d have people over for a fish fry or crawfish boil, Clovis said. Although you could chase Judy with a crawdad or catfish.

“We enjoyed the 30 years we spent together,” he said. “I can’t complain, and I don’t think she would either. ... She was my kind of person. The only difference between her and me: I would eat catfish.”

But when Judy began having serious kidney issues late in life, she joked with Clovis he wouldn’t remember her once she was gone. Clovis’ first wife had died of kidney disease, and it would take Judy from him, too.

Clovis had wanted a mural on the side of his post for a while, because a lot of people didn’t even know what the building was there for, he said. It was “nothing but white paint on a cinderblock building.” But the group didn’t have the funds to match his enthusiasm.

After Judy passed, he did research and got serious. He joked after Judy died, he was miserable and stuck with her dog. The mural gave him a place to focus positive energy. The mural wouldn’t just be a way to honor vets and make the Legion recognizable. It would honor Judy.

“I said, ‘Well, that’s one way I can make sure I don’t forget about you.' ”

He presented the idea to the board, saying he’d pay for the whole thing. The project cost about $6,000, Clovis said.

“Money ain’t everything and I can’t bring it with me,” he said. “I’m not rich. I don’t owe anybody any money, so I said, well, there it is. ...

“I told them this was gonna be a 50-50 deal. This is not all for the American Legion, half of this is for the memory of my wife.”

The post approved it, and Clovis went on the hunt for a painter who was up to the job. He found Hans Geist and was impressed with work he’d done at a library. “He was nice and we got along just great.”

Once Geist began, the project took about two months, Clovis said. The mural was finished in spring 2013. It features a blue sky, planes, and in the lower left corner, a dedication to Judy.

“I really think she would enjoy it,” Clovis said. “There’s no way in the world she ever would have thought I would do something like that, but I did it.”

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