Funeral services are set for Jennifer Ritter Guidry, who died suddenly Tuesday at the age of 43.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 AM on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at St. Mary Catholic Church, 419 Doucet Road, Lafayette. The family requests that visiting hours be observed at Delhomme Funeral Home - Bertrand on Friday, November 13, 2020, from 12:00 PM until 8:00 PM. A Rosary will be recited at 6:00 PM on Friday in the funeral home. Visitation will resume on Saturday, November 14, 2020, from 9:30 AM until the time of service.
Jennifer is survived by her husband, Jesse Guidry; her sons, Cash Cooper and Aldus Guidry; her parents, Cathy and Ervin Ritter, Jr.; her brothers, Lee and his wife, Elizabeth, and Steven; her brother-in-law, Jacques and his wife, Lynsey; her sister-in-law, Jordan and her husband, Jake, and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who dearly loved her.
According to her obituary, Jennifer earned both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in history from USL/UL. As a devoted Ragin' Cajun, she continued to serve her university, first serving as the Assistant Director for the Programming and Special Projects Division for fifteen years, then overseeing production for the UL Press for three years, and, finally, taking on the role of Assistant Director of CCET/P&SP. At the time of her death, she served as the Outreach Coordinator for the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act; a role in which she collaborated with community organizations to increase awareness of Louisiana's coastal land loss crisis and engaged with local residents to develop strategies that would allow them to continue to thrive along Louisiana's working coast as stewards of the landscape, culture and economy.
"There is not enough space in this newspaper to accurately portray the depth of life this woman lived. Jennifer's maternal instincts were felt by anyone in her presence. If there was a baby in the room, she would scoop them into her arms and give the best snuggles. She was "Nanny" and "Best Friend" to all of her nieces and nephews," her obituary reads.
"Not only was Jennifer an amazing mother, she was also a dear friend to so many in this community. Through her philanthropic work, she pretty much knew everyone in town. Fueled by her passions, she served on many local boards for organizations such as the Acadiana Food Alliance, Acadiana Open Channel, and Designing Women of Acadiana. She was also a member of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area Commission," the obituary continues.
"Jennifer led a full life, both personally and professionally. Her family and friends, the community, history, the arts, culture, conservation and her beloved USL/UL were major parts of her life. A bright light has been extinguished in the lives of an array of people who both loved and respected her. She will be dearly missed," the obituary states.
To read the rest of her obituary, click here.
To read about her academic accomplishments and areas of expertise, click here.
The width and breadth of Guidry's impact on Acadiana was evident today in the tributes that were posted on social media.
Patricia Parks Thompson, a local communications specialist, wrote that Guidry always "had a million things going on," but "you had her undivided attention when you were lucky enough to run into her."
"She was such gentle spirit and just had a way with people and making us all feel so special. That is truly a gift and surely a legacy that will be left with her sons. Lights are a bit dimmer in Acadiana today, but no doubt Heaven is shining a little brighter," she wrote.
Herman Fuselier, a longtime Acadiana journalist and author who serves as chief of the St. Landry Parish tourism agency, is a wordsmith - but not today.
"I can't find the words right now. Jennifer Ritter Guidry, a longtime friend and one of the voices on the Zydeco Stomp, is gone. Please pray for her husband Jesse Guidry, a partner in tourism, and their boys. Like the passing of Cheryl Larkin Castille, this is another kick in the stomach," he wrote.
The Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative described Guidry as "one of Louisiana's brightest stars."
"Jennifer Ritter Guidry was a community leader, a brilliant mind, a caring friend, and a collaborator without peer. To say we will miss her is an understatement of profound proportions. Our hearts are breaking for her family, her friends, her community, and our state," the group wrote.
Here are some more tributes to Guidry: