After 40 years, his little brick office in Paradis will continue as a furniture shop
The small, orange brick building at 15160 U.S. Hwy. 90 in Paradis, where Dr. Wilson P. Couch practiced medicine for more than 40 years is getting a new tenant.
There are still memories of Couch and the remnants of his longtime service to the community in the building.It’s easy to see the waiting room that now serves as a showroom.
The counter with the room behind it was where patients checked in before seeing the doctor, and now it’s where furniture products are displayed. What was once an examination room is now where classes are held.
Where Couch maintained and restored the health of area residents is now a store that maintains and restores people’s furniture. It’s called “All Kinds of Finds by Karen.”
The new owner, Karen Guillot, said she thinks Couch wouldn’t mind the changes.
“I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years,” Guillot said. “And while I only knew Dr. Couch professionally, I think he’d like that a nurse was servicing the community, the people, the same people and the children of the people he serviced for so many years…at least I’d like to think so.”
Forty-three years to be exact.
Couch attended Tulane University in New Orleans after some time at Snead College in Alabama. He was interviewed and accepted as a student to Tulane by Alton Ochsner Sr., co-founder of Ochsner Clinic. He graduated valedictorian from Tulane Medical School in 1956.
While a student there, he worked as a janitor to support himself, according to his son, Willie Couch II of Donaldsonville.
The younger Couch said his dad was a quiet man who was really one of the cheapest doctors you could ever find. “He was the small town, country doctor you always hear about … that was him,” he said. “With my father, it was never about money, it was about helping people. I remember once he was offered a position up in Pineville, but he turned it down because he wanted to stay and tend to the folks of Paradis.”
Couch also remembers his dad used to have patients up at his Grand Isle camp.
“We’d go up there on vacation and patients would come to have fish hooks taken out or get stitched up,” he said.
“When they had an accident and needed medical attention he never turned anyone away – that’s just the way he was.” Dr. Couch’s nurse was his wife, Merele.
He was an avid hunter and fisherman and a member of the Golden Meadow Big Game and Fishing Club.
“When I used to see him I would go to his house where he must have had 50 or 60 mounts hanging on the wall,” said Jack Fisher, a longtime former patient.
He was described as a man who knew that sometimes peoples’ dreams were better for their overall health than going by the book.
Councilwomen Julia Fisher-Perrier remembers one such time.
“I remember once when I was in high school I needed a clean physical for cheerleader tryouts,” Fisher-Perrier said. “But I had a case of mononucleosis and no one would pass me. So my dad took me to see his doctor, Dr. Couch, and I told him my story. If I couldn’t go to cheer leading tryouts I might as well be dead.’ When we left the office – I had my clean bill of health.”
Fisher-Perrier attributes at least some small part of her current success to moments like those.
“Those tryouts were the first inkling I had of developing the leadership qualities I’ve tried to display here in our parish,” Fisher-Perrier said. “I not only made the squad, but I was named captain.”
Couch never officially retired. He was forced to quit his practice after suffering two strokes in the year 2000. The first stroke rendered him unconscious for 16 days. Six months later, he had another stroke and the family retired him.
When he passed away on June 11, 2009, the future of little doctor’s office became uncertain.
The building was owned by Peggy Madere, the pharmacist who worked next store. When she passed away, the ownership transferred to Madere’s son, James, who put a “For Rent” sign on it.
“I believe for a long time it was a tutoring office,” Guillot said. “But I can’t be sure exactly how long. I had been doing my restorations out of my garage, but I was outgrowing that and I really needed more room.”
Guillot said she tried to rent booth space for a while, but restrictions about her paint inventory put a damper on that.
She and her husband, Lloyd or ‘Boyo” as he is better known, saw the building for rent in November or December and decided to take the plunge. They signed the lease Dec. 29.
She said they hold classes for people who want to learn how to restore furniture, and she and her husband restore furniture on their own.
“He works during the day,” Guillot said. “I work at night and we both work on weekends.”
Guillot teaches classes on restorations and sells “chalk paint” that she says is applicable to many different surfaces, including fabric.
“This stuff is amazing, very user friendly,” she said.
“There’s no stripping, very minor sanding and you seal it with a wax and it makes it feel just like leather. It makes painting fun, it’s clean and all you need to clean up with is soap and water, not mineral spirits.”
Lloyd said business still varies from day to day.
“Some days no one comes in,” he said. “And some days I get as many as four or five in here. They are really coming in for the paint though – the paint is a big mover.”
The Guillots said you can find them at the store Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They can be found on Facebook by their store name or reached by dialing (504) 756-1211.
Guillot said she still has to work as a nurse with the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, but hopes someday the store could be a full-time job. But, until then, she feels content about the route their taking.
“I’m very happy to be doing this in this area,” she said. This couple’s desire to assist people would certainly go well with Dr. Couch, who was all about helping others.