The Life and Legacy of Marilyn Goudeau Guidry

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Jan. 11, 1937 – Sept. 23, 2021

Marilyn Goudeau Guidry went home to Jesus Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at age 84.  She was a lifelong resident of Port Arthur, Texas until relocating to Baytown, in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey. Mama Guidry is well-known to the Natchitoches community for her connections to the founding families of the St. Augustine’s parish community and to the St. Augustine Historical Society on Isle Brevelle.  Over the years, she made significant contributions to preserving Cane River’s creole heritage.  Her son, Dr. Mark Guidry, is an Isle Brevelle resident along with her granddaughter, Ethel Marie, who is a 7th grader at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Natchitoches.

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Mama Guidry was born Jan. 11, 1937, to loving parents, Warrington B. Goudeau, Sr. and Ethel Lacour Goudeau.  She was the youngest of five siblings, three of whom preceded her in death: Bertha Geyen, Deacon Warrington Goudeau, Jr., and Eugene Goudeau.   She leaves behind one living and beloved sibling, Sister Doris Goudeaux, SSF, who remained with her during her last days, holding her hand as she transitioned into an eternal peace.

Young Marilyn attended and received the holy sacraments from Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Port Arthur.  Highlights of her childhood were: making frequent trips “back home” to Louisiana; being a godmother to many; working in her parent’s store, “Goudeau’s Grocery & Meat Market”; crowning the Blessed Mother as Sacred Heart’s May Queen; and graduating Valedictorian from Sacred Heart High School in 1955.  In that same year, she was named the winner of a national competition for Betty Crocker’s “Homemaker of Tomorrow.”

Following high school and a year of college in Louisiana, she returned to Port Arthur, married, and shifted her focus to raising her family in the parish community of St. John the Evangelist.  In her faith community, she was a pillar – a eucharistic minister of holy communion, widely known for compassion, charity, and beautiful singing.  Mama Guidry delivered the love of Christ through her works and deeds.  She continued her service to St. John’s parish community for over 60 years.

As a devout Catholic, one of the highlights of her life was a pilgrimage to Rome with her son, Dr. Mark Guidry, where they received an unexpected blessing and an encounter with the now, Saint John Paul II.   The experience deepened her faith and desire to be even closer to Jesus.

In the 1970’s, she continued her higher education, receiving an Associate Degree in Cosmetology.  Initially, she worked as a licensed aesthetician while maintaining and building her own clientele.  Working fulltime and raising a family, she advanced her career and obtained a state cosmetology instructor license.  As an instructor, she taught cosmetology for many years.  Eventually, she realized her own dream and opened her own beauty salon, “Marilyn’s Scientific Hair Care.”   Her loyal patrons loved coming to her beauty shop.  In addition to enhancing their external beauty, she helped to improve their internal beauty through faith, prayer, encouragement, coaching, kindness, and unconditional love.  She created unforgettable hairstyles and happy hearts for over 30 years – all the while supporting her children through college.

Woven into the love of her family was her love of cooking.  Family traditions and gatherings were built around her legendary culinary skills and amazing creations, which she passed down to her children.  She welcomed everyone to her kitchen table, and to the experience of her Creole hospitality.  No one ever left her home without a full stomach, happy heart, and a little lagniappe to go.

After retirement, Mama Guidry achieved another dream by authoring a popular heritage cookbook, “Best of Everything: Mama’s Creole Kitchen” which has over 300 recipes and special memories that reflect the Creole heritage.  She often used the proceeds from her cookbook to raise money for other worthy causes, such as for the preservation of the Badin-Roque House on Isle Brevelle.  In 2011, she spearheaded a 30 Year Anniversary Cookbook, “The Historic Grand Family Heritage Cookbook” as a family memoir and fundraiser for the National Grand Family Heritage Foundation, which preserves Louisiana’s French-Creole History & Heritage.  The cookbook – blended with photos, histories, stories, and tributes – has recipes collected from many descendants of French Creoles.

Mama Guidry was widely recognized and accomplished.  She performed cooking demonstrations.  She received many honors and awards including being named the Grand Family Reunion Matriarch (2011), St. Augustine Historical Society Senior Treasure (2013), and Creole Cultural Preservationist (2014).  She helped establish the National Grand Family Heritage Foundation for which she served as Vice President.

Mama Guidry was a dedicated wife, mother, sister, prayer warrior and friend.  SHE LOVED FAMILY.  From her marriage to Raymond W. Guidry (deceased), she was blessed with seven children: Raymond Bernard Guidry (deceased), Whitney Kevin Guidry (deceased), Dr. Mark Guidry, Sarah Guidry, Esq., Dawn Guidry Carmouche, Hope Guidry-Groves, and Dr. Kory Guidry.  From her children she had eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Attending 7th grade at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Natchitoches, is her granddaughter, Ethel Marie Guidry.

She went on to endure a traumatic change in her life in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, which displaced her to Baytown and ended an era of beloved life in Port Arthur.  Typical of Mama Guidry, she eventually turned lemons into lemonade but never stopped missing her cherished Port Arthur community.  Noteworthy is she served other communities as well.  She was also an active member of the St. Augustine Historical Society on Isle Brevelle and was a Friend of the Venerable Henriette Delille, to whom she prayed daily.  In her last years, she was a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Mont Belvieu.

During the peak of the COVID pandemic, her faith was sustained through her dutiful attendance at a daily zoom prayer service hosted by the St. Augustine Corona Prayer Group.  Members from several states formed lasting bonds and were inspired by Mama Guidry’s prayers and sharing of her faith.   Near and far, those blessed to cross her path were empowered and renewed.

Her life was a prayer that was answered.  Mama Guidry spent a lifetime seeking to be closer and closer to Jesus, and now she is with Him.

(Mama Guidry’s funeral was held on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at St. James Catholic Church in Port Arthur, Texas, where she was also buried.  Pallbearers were Seth Carmouche, Dashiel Geyen, Patrick Goudeau, Whitney Groves, Kevin Guidry, Robert Reid, Craig Rideau, & Clyde Roque.   In her memory, donations may be made to the SAHS, PO Box 335, Natchez, LA 71456 or email m.guidry@verizon.net for additional information.  The Guidry family thanks everyone far and wide, for an outpouring of support and prayers).