With profound sadness we announce the passing of Nancy Jean Robert, 63, a loving and devoted sister, aunt, godmother, and friend, on Dec. 20, 2018.
Nancy was born to the late Dalvin and Dolores Robert of Ama, La., and was a lifelong resident of St. Charles Parish.
Nancy is survived by her three loving sisters, Cathy Robert Troxler (Ricky Troxler), Bonnie Robert Lavergne (Ted Lavergne), and Terri Lynn Robert Perry (the late Patrick Perry). She was a beloved aunt to Cami Troxler, T.J. Lavergne, Ryder Troxler (Meghan), Devin Lavergne (Shelly), Scott Nolan (Del), Adrian Perry, Davlyn Nolan, Ryan Perry, and the late Irby Petit III. She was also a beloved great-aunt to Ryan H., Brock, Emma, Haven, Trint, and Ava.
Nancy touched the lives of her family as their paragon of love, compassion, and strength. She was the best of us, simultaneously our sweetest flower and strongest rock. She had a happy and bright spirit that shone brightest with the togetherness of family. She loved cooking – especially sweets – and cruising, the theatre, history, preservation, and education. She especially loved her fur-babies, Brees and Fleur, and we know they will miss being spoiled by their mother.
For over 30 years, Nancy worked at Destrehan Plantation, where she led her staff and the site through decades of growth, renewal, and success as its executive director. Under her leadership, she brought in millions of dollars in donations, grants, and revenue. She added cisterns and elevators to the main house, a parish tourist information center, an education center, a gift shop, the Herbert Harvey Legacy Room, the Jefferson Room, new maintenance facilities, a picnic pavilion, an outdoor concert venue, an open-hearth kitchen, a garden, a bridal suite and overnight cottages, the Azby Administrative Building, and the gigantic always-bustling Mule Barn. She modernized the tour, opened new rooms of the main house to visitors, added live demonstrations, and expanded access to the site to tens of thousands of Louisiana students of all ages. Her work with the Louisiana Tourist Commission allowed her to promote Destrehan – and Louisiana – across the United States and Gulf South region.
Nancy’s annual Fall Arts & Crafts Festival has for decades been one of the largest and most popular festivals of its kind in southeast Louisiana – bringing vendors, artists, cooks, performers, and families together every November in St. Charles Parish. She also brought the site to acclaim in commercials, television shows, music videos, and in films like Interview with the Vampire and the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave.
During Nancy’s tenure, the site, museum, and events held there won many awards, including Louisiana Attraction of the Year in 2010. After Katrina, she worked mightily to open the site – especially the Mule Barn, grounds, and cottages – to private events and weddings. Hundreds of couples have said “I do!” in the buildings she added to the site.
She worked tirelessly and totally for the site through storms, hurricanes, oil spills, downturns, as well as sociopolitical change – but she never lost focus on her mission of historic preservation and education through tourism. Put simply, she managed one of the most significant intact cultural sites in southeast Louisiana. She is survived by her Destrehan Plantation staff and volunteers, past and present.
Nancy was the kind of woman who made you wonder how she did it all. It was as though she had access to more energy and time than anyone else. She seemed to think of everything – even before you had thought of it yourself. She always found a way to love everyone, support everyone, and never missed an opportunity to be her unique blend of kind, happy, and dignified. She was the very best kind of everything that she was, and we will miss her very much.
A celebration of her life is being held on Saturday (Jan. 12), at 10 a.m. in the Mule Barn at Destrehan Plantation. Flowers may be sent to Destrehan Plantation at 13034 River Road, Destrehan, LA 70047. Donations in lieu of flowers can be arranged by calling Paula Mire at (985) 764-9315.