Some knew Rev. Louis C. Askins for his messages from the pulpit, others remember him as a professor and counselor at Southern University. Nearly everyone who knew him remembered him for his voice.
Askins – pastor, teacher, singer, unifier – died May 11 at the age of 87. He was the longtime pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church No. 2 in White Castle and had become a familiar face at community events throughout the parish.
Of all the items on his lengthy resume, his voice commanded the most attention.
“He had a voice like James Earl Jones,” Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stephen Engolio said.
His deep alto singing voice often added to the importance of an event, enough so that it became a familiar part of religious ceremonies for various denomination.
It also played a role in social and governmental ceremonies.
“I Did It My Way,” the iconic Frank Sinatra tune, became a trademark song for Askins.
“That man could really sing,” Iberville Parish President Mitchell Ourso said. “In fact, he sang “I Did It My Way” at one of my inaugurations. … He had a very distinctive voice. He was a great man and I’m really going to miss him.”
His talents extended beyond singing, however.
The combination of years as a professor and an ordained minister made him a bastion of wisdom, according to a close friend of Askins.
“He loved to talk about his much he loved his community and loved his church – and, most of all, what was right,” said Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Maria Small. “He was a man of wisdom and integrity, with a very warm heart and a world of knowledge.”
Plaquemine Mayor Edwin Reeves, who knew Askins for many years, remembers him for his involvement in community activities, and his ability to bring people together.”
“He was quite a character … very involved and had a beautiful voice,” he said. “He served on the board for the Chamber of Commerce during the two times I served as chairman, and we always began with a prayer and a song.
“But he was also a very intelligent man who had a great ability to unify people,” Reeves said. “I loved that man.”
White Castle Mayor John Morris III knew him in another way. Askins played a role in one of the milestones of his life.
“He was the man who baptized me,” he said. “But he was to some what you don’t find in many people – he was a father, a leader, a motivator, an educator and, most of all, a person who believed in people … that was his biggest part.
“But if you got on his bad side, it was something totally different,” Morris said. “Being a well- educated man, he understood the verbiage for unification, and it was that knowledge and wisdom that was helpful for motivating people.”
Aside from losing a friend, Small mourns another aspect about Askins’s death.
“Because of the coronavirus, they couldn’t have a big turnout for his funeral, she said. “Otherwise, there would’ve been a huge crowd … that’s just how much he meant to our parish.”