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CELEBRATING A CENTURY

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Born at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, Inez Landry ushered in the 2020s with a special celebration.

Landry, a resident of Gonzales and former resident of Donaldsonville, reached the milestone of centenarian on January 11.

She moved from the west side of Ascension Parish to the east in June 2016. Her daughter, Debbie Peltier-Roques, said it was her mother's decision to relocate to Magnolia Assisted Living on Burnside.

Family and friends came to visit for her 100th birthday party. She even received keys to the cities of Gonzales and Donaldsonville. Deputies from the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office also paid a visit.

"Nez," as she’s known, has remained active as she's lived life to its fullest in her golden years. Though her hearing has diminished, her family had a plethora of memories to share.

Landry was born January 11, 1920 in Modeste, a rural area on the west bank of the parish.

One of eight children, her father looked after the sugar cane plantations in the area.

Eventually the family settled in Belle Rose on Avon Plantation. Her father found work with the Savoie family.

Landry graduated from Belle Rose schools. Transportation during the time of her youth was by horse and buggy, and often, they would trek to school barefoot.

Her daughter describes her as a petite woman, standing 4-foot-9, and never reaching 100 pounds.

After high school, she began her career working for Western Union. It was during World War II, and she would find herself on trains bound for places like Little Rock and Los Angeles.

Landry returned to Louisiana at the end of the war. Her daughter recalls the story of how her mother was on Canal Street in New Orleans with her younger sister, Elsie. They would kiss the soldiers as they stepped off the trains, she said.

A black-and-white photo shows Landry with her husband next to a car on their wedding day, July 27, 1946.

On that day, she married Clement Howell Landry. They stayed at Hotel Heidelberg in Baton Rouge for their honeymoon.

She still has the receipt from their trip. The balance reads $7.50, and shows a dollar returned for bringing back the room key.

By 1948, the couple purchased a house on River Road. They went on to reside there for 72 years.

Her husband was employed with Jahncke Services on a dredge boat. She would follow him on jobs as they worked on the Intercoastal Canal.

During this time, they lived in Abbeville, Cameron, Franklin, Beaumont, and Pascagoula.

Landry began to stay at home when her daughters, Debbie Roques and Pam Dykes, became school-aged.

In 1965, she went to work for First National Bank. She made 54 cents an hour then, and became known as "the bouncer" since she had to call customers who wrote checks without sufficient funds.

Over time, she was promoted to head teller. After two decades of service, she chose to retire with a small monthly pension instead of a lump sum. To this day, she still collects the retirement payments.

In the years since retiring, she has kept busy by taking pride in her yard work. She used her Snapper riding lawn mower for almost 30 years before she decided to hire out the chore. This was at age 90.

"She always had beautiful flowers surrounding her house," Peltier-Roques said.

In 1992 Landry began painting artwork of chickens and birds. She would give the creations as gifts to family and friends. She also enjoyed crocheting and sewing her own clothes, even making outfits for Ken and Barbie dolls.

Her daughter said she would often jokingly thank former Gov. Edwin Edwards for bringing casinos to Louisiana, as it "gave old people something to do."

Another hobby of hers has been maintaining a long-distance relationship with her pen pal.

In April 2013, The Advocate's People section published a feature on Landry's letter exchange with a friend located in Melbourne, Australia.

Over the course of 20 years, she maintained a friendship as she wrote from her kitchen table in Donaldsonville.

The article detailed the orderly stacks of letters to and from from her friend Helen.

Life hasn't slowed since moving to the assisted living facility. In her first year, she was crowned Mardi Gras queen. Over the years she's made many new friends, and has enjoyed playing bingo and spending peaceful times outdoors.

"She still enjoys a good football game, and she's quick to tell a joke," her daughter said. "She's stayed active, and she's always happy. She's healthy, and never has a headache. She complains very little."