For my friend, Mr. Bob

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Bob Prejean poses with friend Stardust Roberts Matherne, a Donaldsonville historic district photojournalist.

I have been thinking about writing a year in review article, since I have been working as editor of The Chief and Weekly Citizen for one year this month. But I don't think a thousand words could do my year much justice.

And more than likely, I would have probably neglected a paragraph or two about my coworkers including Mr. Bob Prejean. But now, writing this nearly one week after his passing, I am no longer at risk of that pitfall. So I would like to say a few things about an extraordinary man that I had time to meet with my time here.

Mr. Bob was my friend from the jump. He was startling because of his age. I'd never spent much time with someone in their 90s, let alone work beside one. But that never stopped us from cutting up about girls. We shared a few good laughs this year.

He even got a little angry with me for not going to more Rotary Club meetings with him. Regardless, I can fondly picture him at the bar at Palazzo Barnardo during DD Breaux Day last year. I was new in town and he treated me like a son, or at least a little brother on two occasions there. Again, I was new in town with big shoes to fill after DeRon Talley excelled as former editor of The Chief. I know Mr. Bob loved DeRon, but I have to do the job the best way that I can, I tried telling him.

But Mr. Bob always held a "stick with me, and you'll be alright" attitude, which I am grateful for. It was a shock to me to hear of Mr. Bob's death. I don't know why, but I thought he'd live to be 110. I thought on numerous occasions that Mr. Bob would be at The Chief longer than me. It just goes to show that you never know, so count your blessings and tell those closest to you that you love them and all that they mean to you when you first get the chance.

There are a few people that are dedicated to Donaldsonville who might as well build an apartment at City Hall. Donaldsonville Historic District Commissioner Lee Melancon is one of those people. He told me today that on several occasions in recent years, Mr. Bob was there to offer encouragement whenever anyone casted doubt on some project or another that Lee was working on.

Moreover, Mr. Bob's funeral and memorial service was held on Saturday. It was the first or second most well-attended service I have ever witnessed. But people were not moping around and carrying on sadly. It was loud and boisterous in there. Even exciting! One attendee, either a councilman or one of Mr. Bob's six sons said that this was not a sad occasion. The man lived a full, amazing life. And this was a celebration of that life.

A speaker (actually more than one speaker) shared that Mr. Bob was extremely loyal. Someone also shared that Mr. Bob treated people like family, which I'd known. In some instances, he gave people the shot that they needed in life as a former business owner.

Men expressed so much gratitude for Mr. Bob.

I should mention that on display at the funeral home was a table full of pictures from Mr. Bob's life. Having never seen the man other than in his 90s, one might imagine my fascination to see him as a young man. To see him as a soldier in an aircraft, as a husband holding hands with a beautiful woman, as a car dealership owner sitting in a fine, classic car, and at a banquet surrounded by happy people was inspirational.

I didn't want to regurgitate facts that have already been published about Mr. Bob in his obituary, but I was also thrilled to learn this week that he used to furnish cars for LSU football coaches.

Lastly, my regret is that I really wish I would have visited him over the holidays, but I'm certain that God has a plan. And this is my way of letting go. We won't be able to fill Mr. Bob's shoes at the office. Someone will have to come in and do it the best way that they can. But beyond all that, for anyone in any workplace: to be encouraging, loyal, and kind has been proven to get a person very far in their work and in their life. Rest in peace, Bob.