May 3, 2019
A Mass of Christian Burial honoring the life of Col. (USAR, Ret.) Billy Lee St. Andre, 78, was Monday, May 6 at 10 a.m. at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic church in Natchitoches. The Rev. Blake Deshautelle was celebrant. Interment with military honors was at Memory Lawn Cemetery, Natchitoches. Teddy Speir delivered the eulogy.
Mr. St. Andre died after a short illness Friday, May 3, 2019, at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center. Born at home in an area which is now part of the City of Natchitoches, Billy was the son of the late Eura Marie (Williams) and Silas Lee St. Andre.
He attended the old St. Mary’s “on the hill” in downtown Natchitoches from elementary through high school, graduating in 1959. He was very loyal to his alma mater, becoming the first of three generations which included his children and only grandchild, to attend school and graduate from there. Billy stayed in Natchitoches to further his education and graduated from Northwestern State College in January 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics. After completing four years of Army ROTC while at NSC, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army, Ordnance Branch, at his graduation. He reported to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, in March 1964 for Ordnance Officer Branch School. Following the completion of Branch School, he attended Automotive Maintenance School.
In July 1964, he reported to 2nd Infantry Division, 702nd Maintenance Battalion, Headquarters, and A Company as Maintenance Platoon leader at Fort Benning, Ga. He was then transferred to Post Ordnance Branch, also at Fort Benning, and completed his two years of active duty. He was honorably discharged in March 1966. After a brief stint working for Schlumberger in New Iberia following his military discharge, he returned home to Natchitoches. He went to work for Northwestern in September 1966 and was in electronic maintenance for 20 years. He then spent 10 years in housing, where his duties included making dorm room assignments. The standing inside joke among those in the know was that if he was given a name, he could provide the dorm, floor and room number of that particular student almost immediately off the top of his head!
Soon after he retired, he was asked to come back and work part-time for the NSU Campus Police doing computer work. That lasted for several years before his employment with the university finally ended during a cut-back of staff. Following his discharge from the regular Army, Billy joined the Army Reserves to continue his military career. He was assigned first to Alexandria, where he was the Executive Officer, and then Commander, of D Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 95th Division. Later, he was Operations Officer and was also named Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 95th Division. He then went to Monroe, where he was the Commander of 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 95th Division. Bossier City was his next duty station, where he was the Brigade Executive Officer, 4th Brigade, 95th Division.
His last assignment was in Lafayette, where he was the Commander of the 4073rd Reception Battalion, 95th Division. Each of his tours of duty lasted several years. His entire Reserves career spanned a total of 20 years, and he ended his military career in Lafayette with the rank of full Colonel. While in the Reserves, Billy attended many schools and conferences from coast to coast, often accompanied by his best military buddy, the late Ken Johnson of Leesville. His attendance at the Command and General Staff School, located at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., was only one of the many reasons Billy attained the status in rank he enjoyed and deserved. He was a Major at the time and earned his certificate of completion there in 1977.
He loved dogs and was rarely without at least one or two during his lifetime. He could often be found at his son’s home so he could be with the dogs there. A huge fan of the television show “MASH,” he could watch reruns for hours with a dog curled up next to him.
He also loved sports and played basketball and baseball in high school and was elected by his senior class as most athletic. When she played softball, his daughter anchored first base for her team, which was the same position her dad played during his high school baseball days. He was also the reason his oldest knew how to keep the score at a baseball game. Throughout the sports careers of his children and grandson at St. Mary’s, he was a constant fixture at both out-of-town and home games for any sport of which they were a part. He remained an avid supporter of Northwestern events and athletics throughout his adult life. He and his wife held season tickets to NSU football games, and they regularly attended those games for many years. He also enjoyed attending NSU women’s volleyball games and the occasional NSU baseball, softball or basketball game.
Billy supported NSU dinner theatre with his presence, and actively attended those functions with his wife from the time of the first one in the basement of the old NSC Student Union. He missed very few throughout the years. He also was a regular at the NSU Christmas Gala with his wife and thoroughly enjoyed attending concerts given by military bands.
For 30 years, Billy worked with the Dixie Youth baseball/softball program as a coach and member of the Board of Directors. He was also Commissioner of boys T-Ball and girls Ponytail softball before becoming treasurer for the entire program. His hold on the “purse strings” was so tight he would even turn down the program’s director for funds unless it was absolutely necessary! He was honored for his many contributions at a season opening-day ceremony upon his retirement from the program. He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and served for many years as its treasurer. He also worked with the organization’s Bingo, serving on the second Sunday of each month. A life-long member, his was a familiar face who greeted the parishioners, and any visitors, of the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church through the years in his capacity as an usher at the 9 o’clock Mass.
In his later years, he was an active member of the Natchitoches chapter, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). He could always be counted on to offer a motion to close the meeting, which he did virtually every time he was present. He was also a member of the American Legion, Post 10. Billy loved his hometown and was proud to be from Natchitoches. It didn’t take him long, however, to discover how much he enjoyed a cruise once he went on his first one. Together with his wife, he loved those they took and was always ready to go on another one. His children and his grandson were also close to his heart, and they knew he would be at any event of which they were a part if he possibly could. He was ready with advice when they needed it and passed on his love for dogs to all of them. He was preceded in death by his parents, Eura and Silas St. Andre.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years and the love of his life, Wanda; son, CDR Greg St. Andre, U.S. Navy; daughters, Meredith St. Andre (Robert Allen) of Frankfort, Ken., and Susan Yocum (Kelly Hickman) of Natchitoches; and his only grandchild, Chris Berry of Natchitoches. He is also survived by his brothers, Michael Joseph St. Andre of Bossier City and James B. St. Andre of Natchitoches; sisters-in-law, Carolyn Hebble (David) of Spring, Texas, and Linda Ward (Wayne) of Pollock; nieces, nephews and cousins.
Pallbearers were Greg St. Andre, Chris Berry, Kelly Hickman, Burley Johnson, Teddy Speir and John Masson.
Honorary pallbearers include Joe St. Andre, Ned Henry and members of the Knights of Columbus Council #1357 of Natchitoches.
He leaves a huge hole behind that can never be filled, and will be sorely and deeply missed by all who knew and loved him. The family wishes to thank Dr. Bryan Picou and Dr. Chris Ingram, the nurses and staff of Natchitoches Regional Medical Center and the staff at Natchitoches Community Care Center for the care extended to their loved one.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the charity of the donor’s choice.