Former Destrehan High School teacher and football coach Tommy Duhe sat out in front of his home in Norco while men all around him worked away.
One group was clearing his roof of old shingles and throwing them into a dumpster, while another group was trimming bushes and trees. An electrician was checking wires and boxes attached to the home while still another local business cleaned and detailed his truck.
"I still canít believe it. They are touching my heart right now," Duhe said. "You feel as though people remember you. Thatís whatís important to me that people just donít forget that you were here one day and gone the next day and that was it."
Duhe, 71, was the ninth grade football coach at Destrehan High School from 1980 until 2000. He retired from St. Charles Parish Public Schools in 2002 after a 34-year career.
Recently, Duhe and his wife Brenda have been stricken with serious illnesses.
Earlier this year Milton Lachney, a former player of Duheís, was driving down his street when he noticed his old coachís home was in need of repair.
"Being in the home repair business Iíve got an eye for a troubled looking roof," Lachney said. "I stopped by to talk to him, but he wasnít able to come to the door."
In 2010 doctors found Duhe had a heart aneurysm and had to undergo a risky surgery from which he is still recovering.
"They scheduled me for an operation and they found two more aneurysms," Duhe said.
Duhe stayed on the operating table for more than ten hours, which compromised his nerves. He ended up with foot drop as a result.
"I walked in the hospital and came out in a wheelchair," Duhe said. "Iím up to a walker now."
Lachney, the owner of Milton Lachney Roofing and Home Improvement, said once he found out about Duheís situation he knew he needed to do something to help him.
"Coach Duhe has given a lifetime of community service here in St. Charles Parish as an educator at Destrehan High School, a football coach at Destrehan High School, an umpire with the St. Charles Parish Recreation Department for baseball - he has been just an excellent mentor for 30 years of service," Lachney said. "He has helped out the youth in the community and has been somebody people could talk to and laugh with."
Duhe said he remembered Lachney as a tough player when he was a freshman.
"I remember Milton playing football for me when he was a freshman. He was a good, good football player. Believe me he was one of the best out there," Duhe said. "I didnít even know if heíd remembered me to tell you the truth."
But Lachney said he remembered Duhe well and the values that the coach instilled in him through his time on the field.
"On my life he made a real positive impact – self-discipline, good work ethic, a hell of sense of humor," Lachney said.
Steven Weber, principal of Destrehan High School, was the one to take Duhe to his hair appointment.
"I think this is fantastic," Weber said. "I coached there at Destrehan right along side of him. He has always been there to help people."
In one of his first jobs as a coach, Weber was an assistant to Duhe. Before that he was a student at New Sarpy when Duhe taught there.
"If anyone deserves to get payback, itís him," Weber said. "Obviously heís been through some stuff medically and I know it is killing him where he is not able to do this kind of stuff."
Weber said that having an experienced contractor like Lachney helping out is huge.
Lachney said the makeover they did at Duheís home is the first in a series that he and other local businessmen would like to do for local residents in need.
|Stephen Weber, Keith LíHoste, Blake Duhe, Milton Lachney and Greg Cambre with former Destrehan High teacher and football coach Tommy Duhe.|