Former Destrehan coach, teacher remembered

Tommy Duhe

More than anything, Adam Duhe remembers his grandfather, as someone who simply had a wonderful way with people.

“He was one of the easiest people to talk to of anyone I’ve ever met,” Duhe said. “He was the same way for so many other people and that’s probably why he had so many friends. I hope one day I can say I’ll have as many friends as he had.”

Numerous members of the community have been mourning the loss of longtime teacher and football coach Tommy Duhe, who on Aug. 24 passed away at the age of 82. They’ve also been joyfully remembering his life, one that positively impacted so many others.

He 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. Duhe also coached swimming. He taught at New Sarpy Elementary and at St. Charles Catholic, but the majority of his career was spent at Destrehan. He was an assistant coach with the varsity football team and was on the staff that guided Destrehan to the Class 5A state championship game in 1993.

Duhe was a lifelong native of Norco, born on Oct. 19, 1941 – and Norco was more than just a home to him.

“He was so, so proud to be from Norco, to grow up there and to raise his children there,” said Danielle Loosemore, Tommy Duhe’s niece, who called him a Destrehan High and Norco community legend.

Loosemore, who was a student of her uncle when she attended Destrehan High, said his teaching methods were unique, but very effective.

“He taught history, and he loved history,” she said. “He had a very dry sense of humor and it kept you engaged because you never knew when the punchline was coming. He’d be three minutes into a story and there it was. You were never quite sure when he was serious or joking.”

He was also known for giving his students nicknames. After Duhe’s passing, many former students shared stories fondly and each proudly noted those monikers like a badge of honor.

“He retired in 2002, but to this day, everyone remembers the nickname he gave them,” Loosemore said.

Adam Duhe concurred.

“There’s probably not a person in St. Charles Parish who didn’t know him,” he said. “Everyone’s got a story about him, especially his old students. He loved it … so many times he’d get a call from one of them and sometimes they’d even pay him a visit. Those times were the happiest I’d ever see him.”

One example of people’s love for the longtime educator came in 2010. Doctors found Duhe had a heart aneurysm and had to undergo a risky surgery. He battled through it and persevered to live for more than a decade longer, but at the time it left him unable to do many of the things he could previously as he recovered.

“It limited his mobility,” Loosemore said. “He couldn’t do much around the house and it got to be in pretty bad shape. A bunch of people got together from the community and fixed up his house. They came and offered to deep clean his house, they changed his roof and repainted for him. They came together to help someone who would never ask for help, ever – he was a very proud man. It stuck out to me and it was very, very special.”

Tommy Duhe’s sense of humor also set him apart.

There were the times he’d send one of his freshman football players to a different classroom to look for a “left-handed football.” Or he’d ask a student to go check for something upstairs – in a one-story building.

“It was ridiculous,” Loosemore said with a laugh. “People would (hear the request from the student) and just shake their head because they knew.”

But likewise, his players respected him.

“You’d see him with his old players, how they’d talk with him even much later on – he was a very easy person to get along with, but he’d still tell you what’s right and what’s wrong,” Adam Duhe said. “He was just so good with people.”

In fact, one Destrehan class even invited him to their class reunion as a guest.

“He showed up and he was like the biggest celebrity,” Loosemore said.

“When I got to Destrehan, people would see my last name and ask if I was related to him. Then the biggest smile would come across their faces and they’d start telling stories.”

The outpouring of love from community members after his passing only further illustrated the impact he had.

“If he saw that now, I know it would make him so happy,” Adam Duhe said. “Everyone loved him so much.”


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