GERALD BERNARD CHAMPAGNE
Gerald B. Champagne was born on January 15, 1924, in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana to Schley Champagne and Eve Guidry Champagne. He passed away into the eternal life on July 1, 2022. He began school at age four in a one-room schoolhouse, with French as a first language. He was raised in the Cajun Country of Louisiana. He graduated from high school at age 16 in 1940.
Gerald attended Business College after high school and learned office skills that paved the way for him to work in the Intelligence Department of the Coast Guard during World War II. Assigned to the Sixth Naval Intelligence Department, Gerald was stationed in St. Augustine, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina for the duration of World War II. He was honorably discharged in New Orleans in January 1945 and remained in the naval reserve for several years. After discharge, Gerald’s foresight saw the advantages of the G.I. Bill for servicemen returning home and began college in the spring of 1945 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
He married Elizabeth (Betty) Trahan on January 20, 1948. Gerald graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education in 1949 and received a scholarship to begin graduate school. His first job was with Ultra Life Laboratories and later for a “feed” company as a consultant in the broiler industry in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked with producers to improve their yield and was highly successful. During this time, he was assigned a research project and completed a master’s degree at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Gerald went on to develop research at Louisiana State University in post graduate studies during doctoral work.
Through a colleague at his alma mater, a call was issued for a poultry professor at Southwest Texas State. After a call from the Department Head and the President at the college, he took the position and moved to San Marcos ahead of the family in 1955. In 1956 they purchased a home in Rio Vista Terrace. Thus began their “transplant years” in Texas. Professor Champagne enjoyed his time at the college where he spent three decades. During that time, he sponsored the Newman Club, the National Agricultural Honor Society and the SWT Rodeo Association for 28 years. He retired in 1984 as Professor Emeritus. Eleanor Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and Elvis all spent time on campus during his long tenure. Among his students were hundreds of wonderful men and women committed to field and land production, including George Strait. He taught students and their children and grandchildren before retirement.
Mr. Champagne’s long life allowed for productive retirement years. Gerald worked with the AARP Tax Assistance for 19 years was program coordinator for 14. He and his wife Betty worked at early voting for the county and assisted with public elections. They also served those in need through the “Meals on Wheels” for two decades. The Champagnes loved line dancing and performed with a senior citizens entertainment group in central Texas. In 2009 the Champagnes were presented with the “Key” to San Marcos Award for service in the community. A member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in San Marcos, Texas.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Anna Lee Boucvault.
Gerald is survived by his wife of 74 years, Elizabeth (Betty) Champagne, daughter Lizbeth Anne and husband Gary B. Johnson of Magnolia, TX, son Gary Paul Champagne of Maxwell, TX and son Thomas Jude Champagne of Sinton, TX. Grandchildren: Jessica Johnson Clement and husband Christopher Clement of Denver, CO, Laura Champagne Morgan and husband William Morgan, and Mary Champagne and husband Daniel Sowell. Great grandchildren: Adelaide and Reece Clement of Denver, CO, Lola and Olive Morgan of Corpus Christi, TX, Cannon and Barrett Sowell of Comfort, TX.
A Celebration of Life Mass will be held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 624 East Hopkins Street, San Marcos, TX on Wednesday, July 27. The Rosary will begin at 9:00 a.m. with visitation before the 10:00 a.m. funeral service.