Former Gonzales mayor Charles Pasqua passes away

Charlotte Guedry
Charles Pasqua, the first mayor of Gonzales, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at his home in Gonzales.

Charles Pasqua, the man who led Gonzales through many changes throughout its history as a city, passed away early Tuesday morning, Jan. 4, at the age of 76.

While Gonzales has progressed consistently over time, and a great many men spearheaded those advancements, Pasqua, a three-term mayor, and former Louisiana Municipal Association President was instrumental in the city’s growth and development.

Through dedicated leadership, and a firm sense of direction, Pasqua believed in a better future for all of Gonzales.

Throughout his terms in office, Pasqua was an innovative leader, while seeking the best for city.

“I remember Mr. Charlie fondly,” said Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux. “Back when he was the mayor, I was a young patrolman. He was always such a wonderful man and very ahead of his time. He was continuously thinking of ways to better not only the community, but also the lives of his employees through better pay and insurance. I will always remember him in that vein.”

Pasqua served in the capacity of mayor on a part-time basis when he was elected the city’s first full-time mayor. It was under his leadership that Gonzales saw its status go from that of town to that of city. He was the youngest mayor ever elected, and at the age of 29 knew that his goals were centered on making the city of Gonzales the best it could be.

Pasqua's plans for the city were numerous and included putting an end to racial tension within the public school system upon integration. Gonzales resident, Debbie (Austin) Decoteau remembers this time in Gonzales' history well. "It was a new time for Gonzales. I was in school when the first black students began to arrive. So many people reacted horribly to them, but most of us knew we had to think about the future, and show compassion and understanding. Mayor Pasqua wanted the city to move forward, and so did we," she said.

Pasqua also spoke out as an advocate for the elderly in terms of approving low rent, affordable housing. He re-established the city's water supply to ensure that the fire and police forces had adequate supplies.

He organized the first Citizen Information Night’s, where residents could find out more about plans for the area. Women in the workplace were honored under his leadership by him designating Women Owner's Business Week.

Pasqua approved and oversaw construction of the new municipal buildings and the Gonzales Recreation Center, now the Gonzales Civic Center, and he brought the community together to celebrate as one with the inception of the annual Jambalaya Festival.

Changes made for the betterment of the city during his terms in office were many.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez remembers Pasqua fondly. “This is a tremendous loss to Ascension Parish. He was always such a great leader and an innovator. He did so much for Gonzales, and he was also a good friend and a good man. I’m going to miss him both as a leader and as my friend.”

Gonzales resident Emile Ramond said "It's so sad. He was such a good man, with a good heart. He did a lot for this place. People have followed the example he set."

Pasqua’s daughter Charlotte remembers his accomplishments and achievements both as a mayor and as a father. "We are so proud of what he has done for the city of Gonzales," she said. "We as a family are all so close and strong and it's because of him. He was such a good man. Daddy was and is the cornerstone of Gonzales."