Ann Vivian Longman of Eunice, a loving mother, grandmother and great grandmother who considered L.S.U. football players and the Houston Astros as adopted members of the family, died Monday of natural causes. She was 86.
A rabid sports fan, Ann’s own athletic skills were not celebrated. At what is now Louisiana-Lafayette, her intramural volleyball career ended abruptly when she got trapped in the net like a tuna. She was 5 feet tall and weighed 79 pounds at the time. Or maybe she had bulked up to 84 by then. Two-Ton Annie, they called her.
“When we played softball in p.e., I was always the last one picked,” she said.
As a spectator, though, she was unsurpassed in her fervor. When her three children were young, Ann spent summers tromping around Little League ballparks. An enduring family photograph shows her with a confectionary meringue of a bouffant, holding neither peanuts nor Cracker Jack but that more urgent necessity of summer baseball in Louisiana – a can of Off!
Later, as a school secretary, she dutifully watched her two sons play football at Eunice High. And by that, we mean she watched only them through her binoculars, ignoring the tumble of play in case she had to call an ambulance.
Ann V. Berniard was born Nov. 3, 1934, in Eunice, the daughter of Lester Berniard of Donaldsonville and Irene Ardoin of Eunice. She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Pete Berniard of Baton Rouge; and her husband of 55 years, Jere Longman Sr. of Eunice.
She is survived by a brother, Robert Robira of Lafayette; her three children, Jere Longman II and wife Debby of Philadelphia, Tim Longman of Eunice and Irene Cloud and husband Rick of Lafayette; granddaughters Emily Davenport of Lafayette, Sarah Davenport of Houston and Julie-Ann Longman and fiancé Chris Craig of Philadelphia; and a great granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Davenport of Lafayette.
In the fall, Ann’s Saturdays were devoted to L.S.U. football. Years ago, the family placed sleeping bags near the hi-fi in the living room and listened as if around an aural campfire. Ann got lucky in 1959 and won season tickets at a raffle at the Dairy Queen. Thus, she happened to be in attendance on Halloween night, when Billy Cannon returned his trick-or-treat punt against Ole Miss and wrapped up the Heisman Trophy.
Her daughter Irene sprinkles holy water on her television when the Tigers get into trouble, but Ann, ever the realist, was known to acknowledge that divine intervention seldom worked against Alabama.
In 1967, Ann and Jere Sr. attended the New Orleans Saints’ inaugural game with their eldest son, Jere II. They stayed at the same hotel as the visiting Los Angeles Rams and went for a late swim, only to have a Rams’ trainer tell them to hold it down, the players were sleeping. This prompted Jere Sr. to run down the hallway, screaming, “Rams are sissies!” Thus unnerved, the Rams surrendered a 94-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff the next afternoon.
In 2005, as the Astros advanced toward their first World Series, Ann got a ticket from her daughter to attend a game in the National League Championship Series in Houston. She sat in a suite above third base at Minute Maid Park, cheering as the Astros defeated St. Louis and former President George H.W. Bush smooched wife Barbara on the scoreboard kiss-cam.
Ann waved her Astros towel and ate her way through a pile of shrimp, crab cakes, hot dogs and peanuts. When she went to check out the dessert cart, her daughter said, “Get those crumbs off your shirt first,” then reconsidered. “Nah, you’re old, no one will care.”
After her husband died in 2009, Ann, a longtime survivor of breast cancer, bravely lived alone and watched with anticipation every L.S.U. football and baseball game and Astros game that she could find on cable, turning up her hearing aids until she could detect spy satellites. Third baseman Alex Bregman, an L.S.U. alum, became her favorite when he joined Houston. “My boyfriend,” she called him. Fancifully, if not technically, she is survived by a brother, three children, three grandchildren, a great grandchild and an all-star third baseman.
Ann’s other favorite game was bridge. She won a bronze medal at the Senior Olympics but also became perhaps the first person ever to damage her rotator cuff dealing a hand of cards. She imbued her children with the sense that everything was possible, and if she had any regret, it was that she gave so much of herself to others, she did not keep enough for herself. That, and the fact that as she got older, she could no longer distinguish high school mascots from the dating habits of middle-aged women.
“I’m a cougar,” a woman once told her during a bridge game. “Well,” Ann replied, “I’m a Bobcat.”
Isolation forced by the coronavirus pandemic left her in some despair. Still, she read the Baton Rouge paper every day, impatient with L.S.U.’s mediocre football season, waiting expectantly for baseball.
Funeral services are at 11:00 am Friday, January 15, 2021 at St. Anthony Catholic Church with Father Tom Voorhies Celebrant. If Alex Bregman shows up, he will not be turned away for stealing signs. Visitation will be held at Ardoin’s Funeral Home in Eunice on Thursday, January 14th from 4:00 pm until 8:pm and again on Friday, January 15th from 9:00 am until time of services. Deacon Chuck Ortego will recite a Rosary at 6:00 pm on Thursday.
Ardoin’s Funeral Home of Eunice, 1301 West Laurel Ave, (337)457.3371 is in charge of arrangements.