St. Charles Parish knew him as Rock Gisclair, the parish’s 40-year tax assessor, who died Saturday of an apparent heart attack.
“My husband was a true Christian man that never held a grudge and everybody was his friend,” said Sylvia, Gisclair’s wife of 61 years. She added the secret to their marriage was “You just have to live long enough and be married to the right person.”
Rock was the right person for Sylvia.
“I had prayed that this death would be this way – painless,” Sylvia said. She said she didn’t want him to suffer the death that he watched his own mother endure at age 54 from cancer. “His father lived to almost 90 and he had a good life, and (Rock) was grateful his father had lived long.”
Sylvia said “people everywhere” knew her husband and particularly by his nickname of Rock.
When he was running for tax assessor and at one of his political meetings, she said they still laugh over him coming home and telling them about what happened when he was introduced as Clyde Gisclair, she said. There wasn’t a peep from the crowd, but, when he stood up, the group applauded when they realized it was Rock.
From then on, the name became a fixture for him.
St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran ordered parish flags to be flown half-staff on April 20 in Rock’s memory.
“We are grateful for his 40 years of service as St. Charles Parish assessor and will continue to keep his family in our prayers,” Cochran said.
Tab Troxler called his predecessor “ …one of our most visible elected officials, a tough door-to-door campaigner, a friend to all, known for his signature cowboy hats.” He also called him “an outspoken advocate of fairness to all, especially homeowners and small business. He was known across the state as a fighter for his parish.”
Testifying to Gisclair’s generosity, Sylvia recounted a story they still laugh about years later about when their tax preparer inquired about what all these “BCs” were on their return. Rock replied “baptist church” such as Mt. Airy BC that represented his donations to those churches.
Gisclair was elected to the job in 1972 and served in it until he retired in 2012. Sylvia said he announced it was time for someone else to take a turn. He also started a real estate business, called Gisclair Properties, that he continued working at into retirement.
Daughter Tara Gisclair Dufrene recalled her father always making time to play baseball with her in their backyard.
“I would beg him everyday he came home from work and, with a smile, he would always play with me,” Dufrene said.
Dufrene, who has two brothers, John Joseph Gisclair and Daniel Gisclair, described her father as a man of deep faith, selfless and generous to a fault.
“He was gentle and very kind,” she said. “I know a lot of people think they knew him because he wore the suit and the [cowboy] hat, but on the inside he felt he was a simple man leading a simple life. He tried to be a good person every day of his life.”
Dufrene said her father’s death came as a shock.
“The last couple of days, he had a lot of energy and mowed the grass on Thursday, played baseball and one of the things he was proudest of was his service in Korea. He’d been talking about it lately.”
Sylvia recalled her husband’s love for public service.
“Rock liked people a lot,” said his wife. “He was born to be a politician. He fit the mold … friendly, happy and go lucky.”