Library director Angelle Deshautelles remembered for service, sense of humor

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Sometimes Mary LeBoeuf still picks up the phone to call her friend.

Then she pauses and remembers her friend won't be on the other end.

The friend she met in 1984 at Southern Miss, Angelle Deshautelles, died December 29, 2019. She was 65.

LeBoeuf, like many of Deshutelles' friends, had no shortage of memories throughout their decades of friendship.

They would study together at Southern Miss, where Deshautelles added a master's degree to her LSU bachelor's degree.

Deshautelles served as director of the Ascension Parish Library for 27 years. She became the assistant director in 1987.

Under her leadership, the library system expanded throughout the parish. New locations were added in Galvez in 1992 and Dutchtown in 2010. Renovations were completed in Gonzales and Galvez. And land was bought in St. Amant for a future location.

But as friend Jackie Choate explained, Deshautelles saw the library system as more than just buildings and books.

"She was the voice of the library," Choate said. "I really can't say enough about her. She won many awards for her work, and rightfully so. She was such a good librarian, and such a good friend."

Choate met Deshautelles as an assistant at the Donaldsonville branch.

"Even if we didn't work together, she and I still would have been friends," Choate said. "She loved the library. She always did what was right, and that wasn't always easy."

She recalled vacation trips they would often take together with groups of friends.

"We could sit and talk for hours," Choate said. "She was a great person, and always wanted the best of everything for her library. I truly miss her so much."

Choate went on to work for a smaller library system. She said Deshautelles would often check with her in case they needed anything.

"If she could help another library, she would," Choate said.

Randy De Soto, who formerly directed the St. John the Baptist Parish Library for more than 27 years, knew Deshautelles through the Louisiana Library Association.

Deshautelles was involved in the American Library Association and the Louisiana Library Association, where she served as President in 2002-2003.

De Soto said she was a great listener who always offered good advice to help other directors.

"As librarians, we don't believe in reinventing the wheel. She was always willing to help, and share what she knew," De Soto said. "She was someone we could always rely on."

De Soto said it's always a good sign be recognized by one's peers. Deshautelles' collection of awards throughout her career show the value of her leadership.

"She was certainly widely appreciated," he said. "I'll remember her kindness and her generosity. She was really generous with her time, and effort, and ability. She was genuinely a nice person."

Anita Young, a colleague from the Ascension library, worked with Deshautelles for almost 20 years, but knew her well before.

"She had an incredible sense of humor," Young said. "She had lots of stories that would often start with, 'I had to laugh . . . '"

Though Deshautelles had no children, she had a big family.

LeBoeuf, who gave her eulogy, said Deshautelles was "all about family."

Her great love was for her nieces and nephews, she said.

"They were her world, then they had kids," LeBoeuf said.

Deshautelles was fondly known as "G-Nanny" to family, which LeBoeuf said always reminded her of a superhero name.

LeBoeuf pointed out how her sense of humor was immortalized on her memorial marker. With a strike through the H in Head Librarian changed to a D, the words "She's checked out" follow.

"That just shows her wicked sense of humor," LeBoeuf said. "She saw humor in everything. Nothing got her down.

Now, any time LeBoeuf hears a wicked joke, she's going to think of her friend.

"I'm going to wish she was there," she said.