Councilman keeps memorial in memory of his son

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2006



GARYVILLE – St. John Councilman Allen St. Pierre had always heard the line, but hoped to never have to live it.

&#8220They always say you’re never supposed to bury your own children,” he said. &#8220And now I know what they mean. Every day I just wish I could take his place.”

St. Pierre was referring to his youngest child, Darren, who died on Oct. 5, 2005 in a car accident on Hwy. 54 just north of Garyville.

Darren St. Pierre was coming home late from work that night, and apparently ran into the back of an 18-wheeler, according to police reports. He died shortly thereafter as he was rushed to the local hospital.

But today, getting near the one-year anniversary of Darren’s death, his father has found a small way to keep his son’s memory alive, and hopefully warn others to drive carefully.

For those who travel Hwy. 54 coming into Garyville, they have probably noticed a small memorial clearly set up on the side of the road just before the first railroad tracks. A walkway in stone is made from the main road, then a cross with Darren’s name on it is surrounded by flowers. The grass is kept neatly cut at all times.

St. Pierre made the steps gold colored, and has tried to keep as many purple and gold flowers there since frequently be seen there, &#8220at least four or five times a week,” the St. John councilman said. He has dedicated himself to maintaining the area in his son’s memory, &#8220for as long as I can.”

Known by most in St. John as a lifelong Shell employee who put in 33 years, St. Pierre became even better known in recent years when he won election as a councilman representing the Garyville/Mt. Airy region.

Although now 76 years of age, he hasn’t slowed down in his civic or political life, and says he cannot let his son’s memory fade away.

&#8220You never get over losing a child,” he said, as tears welled in his eyes. &#8220And the worst time is when you lay down at night. Your mind is clear and you just think about it. He was such a good boy.”

St. Pierre and his wife Audry, who have been married for 52 years, had three daughters and two sons. Darren was the youngest child, and was 35 at the time of his death.

Darren had been married for nine years and has a young daughter, with the family about to move into their first home ever the weekend after the accident.

&#8220Darren had been working extra long hours, going to the house and doing a lot of work,” St. Pierre said. &#8220His family had always lived in a trailer and it was their dream to get this house.”

Darren graduated high school in the late 80s at Riverside Academy, then went on to LSU for a short time before quitting college, and going to work for Sherwin Williams. He moved up quickly with the company, showing leadership skills as they put him into management.

&#8220He managed several different stores, including the LaPlace store,” St. Pierre said. &#8220I run across people all the time who said he was always so accommodating to everyone. That’s why so many people liked him. There were 35 representatives from the Sherwin Williams company at the funeral, which tells you what they thought of him.”

St. Pierre says he has always been proud of all his children, since the parents demanded respect from their children, and taught them to be good workers.

&#8220We always taught our kids to do everything to perfection, always doing your best,” he said. &#8220And Darren was that way. All our kids are really good, even though it’s tougher to raise kids today with all the vices they have facing them.”

The day of the accident, Darren dropped his daughter off at school in the morning, then went to work at the Clearview Parkway store in Metairie until 4:30. He was fighting bad traffic on the way home, and called his wife to say he would be late.

&#8220We know he turned off Airline Highway onto 54, and from then, nobody can be sure why he ran into the truck in front of him,” he father said. &#8220It had to be one of those things where you just look over at the side of the road, on the passenger seat to do something. And he must not have realized how close he was to the truck. We’ve all done that before, but for him, the truck was too close.”

St. Pierre said his son &#8220didn’t drink, had a good marriage and had everything going great in his life with the house they were about to move into.”

He said he wants to maintain the memorial to his son so that people have a way to never forget him, and to help people remember to be careful when they are driving.

&#8220As long as I’m alive, I’ll keep it up,” he said. &#8220I want to keep it purple and gold since he loved LSU.

&#8220I have been to a lot of wakes before, and I never told people, ‘I know what you’re going through’ if they lost a child, since I couldn’t say that. But now I know,” he said. &#8220Many times I’ve thought that I just wish I could take his place. But God must have wanted him more than he wanted us to have him. I just try to think about that.”