St. James Parish mourns Chief Scott

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2001


PHOTO: Sheriff Willy J. Martin Jr., left, and Chief Deputy Elijah Scott Sr. of the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office were partners in the battle against St. James Parish crime. The two men are shown here in a recent photo. PAULINA – Since Elijah Scott Sr., chief deputy of the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office, died May 26 at the age of 64 from complications of heart surgery, his life and career have been fondly remembered by his family, friends and co-workers. Many could recount the basic facts. Scott was born Dec. 29, 1936, in the community of Remy and his 28-year tenure with the sheriff’s office began in April 1973 when he was hired at the age of 36 as a road deputy under Sheriff Gordon Martin. He worked himself up through the ranks under the administrations of former sheriffs Martin, Joseph Nasser and most recently that of current Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. Martin appointed Scott to the rank of chief deputy on July 1, 1996. Scott acted as the second in command to the sheriff and was responsible for four divisions within the department: Corrections, Communication, Investigation and Patrol. On May 5, 1976, Scott married the former Catherine Ann Joseph and their quarter-century marriage produced two daughters and one son. From a previous marriage, Scott had two daughters and four sons. “He was a good Christian, a good husband and father,” his wife recalled. “He first worked for the New Orleans Public Service in the gas department. He changed jobs because he wanted to be closer to home.” His religious views took the form not so much of theories as of a way of treating people. “It did not matter who you were or where you came from – he looked at you as a person and as God’s child,” his wife said. “He gave a lot of encouragement to people. He was not a boastful person. He had a relationship with God and that is what made him the person he was – a Christian and a man who believed in God’s word.” In his later years, Scott had numerous health problems centered around his kidneys. “In 1993 he started home dialysis treatment,” his wife recounted. “Three times a day – morning, noon and evening. While going through this treatment he went to work too. He would do this treatment before going to work, he would come home at lunchtime and then after work.” Amazingly, she said, he never complained. A kidney transplant was inevitable. But during exploratory surgery doctors found an aneurysm and the kidney transplant had to be postponed. Doctors removed the aneurysm, but home dialysis was no longer possible, and he had to go on machine dialysis. “Then in 1997,” his wife said, “they found a kidney for my husband. And four days after the transplant, his body rejected it. He went to work even after the surgery. He drove himself to and from dialysis. He was a very independent man. This sheer strength of body and soul came from his Christian faith and family.” He was a ceaseless source of activity at the Evergreen Baptist Church. “He started the Sunday school there and was the junior Choir director,” his wife said. “He did the Bible prayer service and was a teacher for the vacation Bible school. He was the cook at the church picnics. He never stopped. He never had pity-parties – not Elijah. He was a role model for the community. Everybody respected Chief Scott.” Scott’s colleagues echoed his wife’s sentiments. “Elijah was such an asset to the organization because of his dedication and unselfishness,” Sheriff Martin said. “Chief Scott was an outstanding deputy sheriff and a good friend. Although hampered with health problems, he seldom complained. His illness never kept him from work or service to his community. He was dedicated and loyal to the department and always kept the deputies’ best interest at heart. He was a model for all deputies.” Capt. Sid Berthelot recalled: “I worked with him for 11 years. Considered him a good friend and mentor. He always gave good advice and had the ability to look at the situation from a human rather than from just the criminal justice side. He will be hard to replace.” “I worked with him for 20 years,” said Ann Duhe, of the Accounts Payable and Purchasing office. “He was a wonderful person. You could go into his office and cry your soul out and he would listen patiently. He had faith in God. He was honest, he told you the way it was. I’m going to miss him a lot.” Karen Tramonte, Scott’s secretary, recalled his kindness and tact. “He never used his power to hurt you,” she said. “He always wanted to help. You could talk about anything and he always had an answer. He was strong in his faith in God. He never turned anybody away, never refused a phone call, and always returned his calls. He cared about the people in his parish. Whoever takes his place will have some big shoes to fill.” Since his death, there has been an outpouring of sympathy and condolence for his family and friends by all who were touched by Chief Scott’s dignity and generosity. The Mayor of Lutcher, Troas Poche, sent to Sheriff Martin a resolution adopted by the Lutcher Board of Aldermen offering condolences to Scott’s family and to the staff of the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office. Scott’s passing, the resolution stated, “will bring a void to the Town of Lutcher and to the many people he knew and served.” A similar resolution was unanimously passed Monday by the Gramercy Board of Aldermen, which expressed the town’s condolences and sympathy to the family and the sheriff’s office.