Recognized for helping secure levee, school board work
Ronald St. Pierre is humble about being named the American Legion Post 366’s Citizen of the Year, but he especially wants to thank all the people who helped him earn this recognition.
St. Pierre, 87, will officially receive the honor Saturday at an American Legion presentation in Destrehan.“I didn’t expect anything like this and actually I got a lot of people to thank for that,” he said. “Everything I did I didn’t do alone.”
St. Pierre served on the St. Charles Parish School Board for 27 years collectively and completed his last term in 2002.
Among his achievements, he said he helped balance board representation for East and West banks, as well as reduced board terms from six-year, alternating terms to four-year, concurrent terms where the entire board was elected at the same time; pushed for long-range planning for the system and successfully supported the system getting 2 percent sales tax to more consistently grow the school system.
“When you’ve got politics involved you don’t make any progress,” he said of his efforts on the School Board.St. Pierre also served about 10 years on the Pontchartrain Levee Board and helped support construction of the East Bank levee and portion of the parish’s hurricane protection levee.
In the community, he and Sal Digirolamo helped found the Norco Civic Association, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life for its area citizens.
“I’ve got a special place in my heart for Ronald,” said Digirolamo, who credits St. Pierre with saving his life on a fishing trip at the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway. “I participate with Ronald in many organizations and I can tell you firsthand that he always gives it his best. His only goal is to make life better for all.”
St. Pierre also thanked his family, especially his wife, who encouraged him to do these things.
“I spent a lot of time away from home and I’ve got so many people to thank it’s impossible to thank them all,” he said.Born and raised in Destrehan, St. Pierre and his family moved to Norco when he started working at Shell. Nearly 40 years later, he retired from the company and continues to give to the community he considers his home.
Guided by strong religious beliefs, the Norco resident said his life’s goal has been to “love thy neighbor” and “the best thing we can do to help thy neighbor is improve their way of life. That’s the bottom line.”
He added, “I think that it is … God wanted us to know how to run our lives so he sent his son to teach us how to do it. I believe in helping people and trying to improve their quality of life.”
St. Pierre is a Catholic and attends Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Norco.
Ever since he was a child, St. Pierre sought ways to give back. He was a Boy Scout and he helped with paper and scrap drives in war efforts.
“I guess I came up doing this kind of stuff,” he said.His childhood was based on helping his family, too.Where grain elevators are today, St. Pierre said they had milk cows that he milked and delivered the milk to households. In summers, he had eight homemade shrimp boxes that he kept in the Mississippi River that provided shrimp for his family and they sold anything extra they caught.
St. Pierre met his wife at Destrehan High School. The two dated through college and then talked of marriage once he got a job at General Gas Co. in Baton Rouge. But their plans were postponed when he was called to serve in the U.S. Army for the Korean War. During that time, he was transferred to radar school in El Paso, Texas, and once it was confirmed he wasn’t going to the battlefield, they were married 10 days later in May of 1951.
By May of 1953, St. Pierre was working at Shell and soon after they were living in Norco and he set out to help others.
“I feel good,” he said of his achievements. “When you work with people it enriches your life and makes you feel good about yourself. It’s just uplifting.”