“Her epitaph is written in the lives of her children…”
Georgie Manuel passed away on October 9, 2020 at Acadian Medical Center in Eunice at the age of 80. In keeping with her oft-expressed wishes, no public services will be held; her inurnment will take place at St. Paul’s Cemetery at a later date.
Born Georgia Ann McGee to Percy and Ruth David McGee on April 6, 1940, she lived her entire life, except for a brief time in San Diego and Galveston during World War II, in Eunice. She married Allen Manuel in October 1957, and they were together for over 60 years, until his death just 72 days ago. To him, she was his “little Pumpkin.” After giving birth to “five only children,” she opened Potpourri, Inc., a craft shop, which she operated for approximately 30 years. It was during this time that her love of her Cajun heritage, especially the “courir de Mardi Gras,” inspired her to preserve its many traditions. After making Mardi Gras costumes for her children, Georgie began to do so on a larger scale in the 1980s. She became one of the most fervent representatives of Cajun culture, traveling to festivals across the country to share it with “étrangers.” Georgie and Allen appeared at the Jazz Festival in New Orleans for over 20 years, introducing traditional Mardi Gras screen masks and costumes to people from around the world. It was not unusual for her to bring tourists back to her home from the Liberty or the Depot Museum to talk about Mardi Gras.
Georgie loved her hometown of Eunice and was active in its civic life for decades. In 1985-86, she, along with her husband, sons, and Charles and Janet Seale, worked to restore the Liberty Theatre prior to its reopening as the home of the “Rendez-vous des Cajuns” radio show. She was also instrumental in the restoration of the Eunice Depot Museum, and helped amass and catalogue the many relics of Eunice history stored there. She was named Eunice’s “Citizen of the Year” by the Rotary Club in 1997. In the 2000s, she chronicled her memories of Eunice in the “Remember When?” column in the Eunice News.
Her other great passion was her family, and she always put their needs before her own. She was “Mammy” to her kids, sons- and daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and she loved nothing more than having them come over to visit, making “7-Up biscuits” and weird smoothies with them, cooking “rice and gravy” for them, letting them destroy the “toy room,” and walking with them in her back yard, describing each and every plant, flower, bird, and butterfly to them. They will all miss the little packages she sent home with or mailed to them, filled with odd knick-knacks, and always accompanied by a little hand-written sticky note.
She is survived by two daughters, Cindi Detraz and husband Scott Detraz of Eunice, and Alicia Manuel of Pensacola, Florida; two sons, Jaime O. Manuel and companion Marcie Duke of Eunice, and Joel Manuel and wife Crystal Carter Manuel of Baton Rouge; ten grandchildren: Kayley Langley Hannon and husband Brian Hannon, Adam Langley, Ian Hands and wife Mary Hands, Lauren Rice, Nick Rice, Rhiannon Bessmertny Patshy and husband Kyle Patshy, Michael Palmer, Carrie Mae Manuel, Elliott Manuel, and Emily Manuel; eleven great-grandchildren: Jack Ardoin, Colin Ardoin, Lauren Hannon, Emily Hannon, Colin Hannon, Landon Langley, Adrian Hands, Malakai Patshy, Myia Patshy, Bodhi Hannon, and Georgie “Gigi” Hannon; her sister, Margrett Fels and husband Jon Fels of Baton Rouge; and her brother, Michael McGee and wife Phyllis McGee of Sulphur.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Allen Manuel; her daughter, Deidre Denise "Deedy" Manuel McGee; her parents, Percy and Ruth McGee; and her brother, Pat McGee.
For the last several weeks of her life, Mammy was lovingly cared for in her home by her grandson, Adam Langley; the whole family sends love and thanks to Adam for his compassion.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the charity of one’s choice. Or, if you were to ask her, Mammy would want you to do something for someone less fortunate, or check on a sick or elderly friend or relative. She would want you clean your ancestors’ graves for All Saints’ Day, or call an old friend and laugh over a bawdy joke. She would want you to put on something orange and black and wait in a pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to arrive on Halloween night. Perhaps most of all, she would want you to put on a costume and screen mask (“NO purple and gold, this isn’t New Orleans!”), and listen for the haunting strains of the Mardi Gras song on the wind on a gray midwinter day, then join the run, dancing and singing, passing a good time while collecting ingredients for the communal gumbo, and thanking God that you lived in Cajun country.
Ardoin's Funeral Home of Eunice, 1301 West Laurel Ave, (337)457.3371 is in charge of arrangements.