Cancer claims one of parish's best-known Germans
Irene Hebert, 74, opened Hebert Seafood with her husband, Willie Hebert Sr., after selling seafood on Highway 90 for years. She had been battling lymphoma for a year when she succombed to the illness, but she was still driving herself to work and to visit friends.
“She wouldn't let anybody do anything for her and she would help anybody she could,” said Lisa Bolotte, family friend and employee of Hebert Seafood for the past 18 years. “All the way to the end, she cut her own grass, did her own housework and cooked for herself. She didn't want anybody to worry about her or think she couldn't do anything.”
Family friend Alisha Pierre Nash gave a eulogy at Irene's funeral about her can-do attitude and her start in St. Charles Parish.
“I remember as a little girl, my mom stopping on the side of the road…to buy shrimp from the German lady wearing cut-off jean shorts and a tank top, selling shrimp from the back of a pickup truck,” Nash said. “There was always a line of people at the truck and I remember seeing how hard she worked - doing everything by herself, never wavering, never complaining, just doing what had to be done.”
Irene immigrated to Luling from Germany in 1968.
“When she came over, she could hardly speak any English,” said Willie Hebert Jr. “She learned English with me watching Sesame Street when I was young.”
Irene had a reputation for having a strong German character, but also a soft heart.
“Through the years, I've observed Ms. Irene shed some of the stereotypical German attributes and have seen her express concern and compassion towards others,” Nash said in the eulogy. “Now don't get it twisted, if you rubbed her the wrong way, she would definitely take you back to “German Lady 101”…once she came down from her aggression, the next time she saw you she would laugh with you about what happened and then tell you that she loves you.”
That fits in with a local legend that Irene once scared off two would-be robbers by simply telling them forcefully to leave.
“She was a very strong, tough person,” Willie Jr. said. “She was a great person - loving, giving, and tried to help everybody out. She's never met a stranger - everybody was a friend.”
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