Krewe of Des Allemands

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY Staff Reporter

DES ALLEMANDS – For Simon and Mary Helen Dempster, the prospect of reigning and King and Queen in the Krewe of Des Allemands Feb. 22 parade brings mixed emotions.

“I didn’t want no part of it,” he said. “The kids want it so bad,” she added, and said, “I’m anxious to go and do it.”

Now 72 years of age, he was born and raised in Des Allemands, one of the 12 children of Felecian and Clara Plaisance Dempster. She was the youngest of the 14 children of Joseph and Laura Bourgeois Folse of Raceland.

They met at a dance at the old Red Light dance hall. She was “16 or 17” and he was 19. They married 52 years ago. “When you’re young, you don’t know no better,” he observed wryly.

Before he married, Simon enjoyed fishing and still does, regularly setting out his catfish lines and crab traps. He feels strongly about over-fishing the area and expects the region to be fished out. “It’s not going to get better,” he said.

He worked offshore for 10 years or so and construction for 37 years, as a member of the Carpenters Union Local 1846.

Together, the Dempsters raised four children, including Kurt and Holly (both now with First National Bank USA), Darryl, now employed at Houma Fabricators shipyard, and the late Royce Dempster, who died two years ago at the age of 47.

The Dempsters also have four grandchildren, including three girls and a boy.

The couple remembers the dance halls and recreational activities which once abounded for young people and observed, “Children today don’t have anything to do.”

However, they love Hahnville High School football, with grandson defensive back Derek Dempster on this year’s championship team, reflecting a nephew, Kenneth Dempster, who was on the school’s 1972 championship team.

There’s even some carnival connections in the family as well, with Holly having been a past queen for Des Allemands when it was under the supervision of the Lions Club.

The couple also have deep roots with the Louisiana Catfish Festival, with Kurt serving as chairman. Visitors using the picnic tables at the festival are using those built by Simon Dempster, and Mary Helen Dempster is so good at fundraising and soliciting donations during the past 30 years that she refers to herself as “the begger of Des Allemands.”

Besides the Dempsters, the Krewe will also honor sisters Elsie Tauzin and Audrey Matherne as grand marshals.

The ball for the Krewe of Des Allemands is set Jan. 24, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., in the Father Mac Community Center next to St. Gertrude Catholic Church, with the crowning set for 8:30 p.m.