An integral part of Gonzales' history, Shirley Bourque, passed away at her residence on Sept. 20 at the age of 93. She was born and raised in the Jambalaya Capital, where she was married to her childhood sweetheart, L. P. Bourque, Jr.
Throughout their time together, they accomplished many achievements in the city, such as owning the first beauty shop in 1949, Shirley's Beauty Shop, building Gonzales' first high rise apartment, Chateau Bourque Apartments, and developing seven subdivisions from 1956 to 1983 through their real estate company - Bourque Real Estate.
Earlier this summer, Parish President Kenny Matassa proclaimed June 16 as Shirley Bourque Day in Ascension Parish because of all the work she had done in Gonzales.
“Shirley Bourque was a legend," Matassa said. "Her husband, Mr. L.P., laid the cornerstone of residential growth in Gonzales. She was a strong wife, loving mother, faithful Catholic and a community servant. She will be missed greatly.”
The mother of five was also heavily involved with many organizations and with St. Theresa Catholic Church, where she was part of the St. Theresa Ladies Alter Society, Catholic Daughters, Confederate Daughters of America and St. Theresa Bereavement Ministry, to name a few. She also organized and co-chaired the first ever Gonzales Christmas Parade in 1950, which is still a popular event.
St. Theresa Church Deacon Bill Blair described Bourque as a woman with a genuine heart who welcomed in everyone she met.
"In her church ministry, Shirley was involved in countless activities but none more so than RCIA," Blair said. "Many new Catholic men and women will recall her warm hospitality and her affectionate kisses. She welcomed me and remembered me so often as a deacon in service to St. Theresa and fed me many times. Shirley invented the "eat-in" kitchen with her deluxe aluminum picnic table adorning her kitchen. What a blessing Ms. Shirley has been to Gonzales. And, what a blessing she will be to those waiting for her, especially her most beloved, L.P. You loved so many and so many loved and cherished you."
Her son, Gonzales City Councilman Neal Bourque recounted how kind his mother was.
"She loved everybody and made friends with everyone she met," he said.
Her children said that her greatest accomplishment was having a loving husband and raising her children.
"My greatest accomplishments were to have gotten L.P. for my husband and father to my five most loving and caring children who are the core of my life, then to be blessed with the most precious loving spouses for them," Shirley Bourque said in an interview earlier this year. "I did the best I could at all time. No one had a more beautiful journey than I did."