This weekend as thousands of anglers and visitors flood into Grand Isle for the 86th annual International Tarpon Rodeo, one familiar face will be missing.
Paul Candies, president and chief financial officer for Des Allemands-based Otto Candies, one of St. Charles Parish’s most renowned companies, passed away from a heart attack he suffered in Grand Isle on Sunday.
Although Candies was a lifelong resident of Des Allemands, he had a great fondness for Grand Isle.
“He was involved very much with the Tarpon Rodeo,” Nicki Candies, Paul Candies’ niece and director of regulatory affairs and public relations for Otto Candies, said.
Candies was the chairman of the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo and donated the land where the rodeo pavilion was built. He also helped the Grand Isle community by shipping freshwater into the barrier island with Otto Candies’ vessels while the replacement of a water main was underway.
“He was genuine. You can’t find a better man,” Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle said. “He always supported Grand Isle.”
As chairman of the International Tarpon Rodeo, Camardelle said Candies was the man who made it all happen.
“You have meetings and everyone has their job, but Mr. Paul was the one who made the final decisions,” he said. “I wish he would have made one more rodeo.”
Camardelle said this weekend’s Tarpon Rodeo will be dedicated to Candies and that there are plans underway to name the road leading to the fishing pavilion after him.
Sen. Mary Landrieu said that Candies will be missed by his many admirers at the Tarpon Rodeo and throughout the state.
“His generosity to Grand Isle, the rodeo and South Louisiana is well known,” she said. “He will always be appreciated and remembered.”
A graduate of Hahnville High School and Southeastern Louisiana University, Candies served in the Coast Guard before joining the marine transport company founded by his father, Otto Candies.
Over the next 52 years Candies and his brothers, CEO Otto Candies Jr. and Executive Vice President Kevin Candies, transformed the family owned and operated business into a leading offshore transportation company for the oil and gas industry.
Nicki said her uncle was instrumental in the company’s growth.
“From a business perspective he had so much forethought and foresight. We have grown ten fold,” she said. “In 1961, in all fairness, we were a small towing company with a few smaller supply vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. Today we own and operate a fleet of nearly 100 worldwide serving oil and gas markets and pioneering deepwater transportation. Paul and his brothers were the leaders of our company to get us to that position.”
According to Nicki, Candies not only handled the company’s finances, but also served as an emissary to their customer base.
“He handled all of the financial issues with the company and he developed and maintained relationships with customers,” she said.
In addition to Candies’ involvement in the family business, he also co-founded a championship-winning drag racing team in 1964 that is still in operation.
“He was a founding partner and operator of Candies and Hughes and its successor, Candies Family Motorsports,” Nicki said. “His two sons have become very involved themselves in the racing operations.”
In the 1970s and 80s, Candies’ Top Fuel and Funny Car teams won the Funny Car National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Gatornationals in 1970, the Top Fuel NHRA World Championship in 1976 and became the first team in history to win titles in both classes in 1984. For his success, Candies was inducted into the NHRA Hall of Fame.
“He had professional drivers on his teams but he was the genius behind financing the companies and behind the new technologies they employed that led the team to numerous world championships,” Nicki said.
In 2002, Candies was nominated to serve on Hibernia Bank’s board of directors. He had previously been a member of the board of directors for Argent Bank for 30 years. Additionally, Candies took an interest in both Southeastern and Nicholls State University, providing generous support of their educational programs.
Candies was enjoying the weekend prior to the Tarpon Rodeo with his wife at the time of his death.
“He was on Grand Isle with his wife Rita, who was his beloved partner, best friend and playmate – they did everything together,” Nicki said.
Candies is also survived by his two sons, P.B and Brett, in addition to grandchildren, nieces and nephews.