Willie Broussard *
Inducted on January 25, 2014
Willie Andre Broussard was born July 2, 1931 to Jean Camille Broussard and Ada Hebert. Jean Camille was the son of Albert Camille, who was the son of Camille Jean Francois, who was the son of Jean Francois Baptiste, who was the son of Francois, who was the son of Joseph Beausoleil, who was the son of Francois. Francois was the first Broussard in his genealogical line to come to the New World, which is now Nova Scotia. Joseph Beausoleil was the first in his line to come to Louisiana. All generations since have lived in the Lafayette, Milton and Maurice areas, where they have actively participated in the development of the Acadian culture as planters, mercantile owners and educators, but mostly as progenitors of large families, which prospered in and around the Acadiana region.
Broussard is best known for his French song, Brasse don le couche couche. He wrote it to reflect the times after World War II in south Louisiana where many Acadians migrated to South Texas looking for work. He recorded the original 45 rpm record and it has been re-recorded by numerous artists since then, and is sung at Dwyer’s Café each Friday morning by a local Cajun language preservation group. He also wrote and recorded two Christmas songs, Santa in Bayou Land and Put Christ Back into Christmas. For his efforts, Broussard was given the Heritage Award by the Cajun French Music Association in 2000.
Broussard worked as a French-speaking disc jockey on KROF radio station in Abbeville and sang at numerous weddings and funerals. As a youth, he was fortunate enough to work on both of the Hadacol caravans, where he operated the sound truck announcing to the crowds the soon-to-arrive miracle of the Hadacol elixir. The caravan traveled the entire country thus affording Broussard the opportunity to meet many of the great singers and actors of that era.
Broussard graduated from Maurice High School and went on to earn a master’s degree, plus 30 hours in education from South Louisiana Institute (SLI) and University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL). Broussard taught mathematics and industrial arts for 30 years at Abbeville High School, Maurice High School and North Vermilion High School. In the mid-1960s, he served as the president of the Vermilion Parish Teachers Association. In addition to teaching, he coached high school baseball and basketball where he was instrumental in bringing high school baseball back to the Vermilion Parish area. Through Broussard’s perseverance at the time, Maurice High School was the first and only team in the parish to participate in high school baseball.
Broussard was always interested in the development of the youth. When many kids were left out of the local youth baseball program, he created and coached the Maurice Volunteers Little League Team, which participated in the Bayou Boys Little League program, thus affording many local youths the opportunity to play baseball.
Before and after he retired from teaching, Broussard served as administrator for the Village of Maurice where he promoted and oversaw many improvements to the village such as the municipal water and sewer system and the promotion/development of the Maurice Park.
Broussard married Joyce Love Hebert in 1956 and they celebrated 54 years of marriage before losing Joyce to a battle with cancer. Broussard is very proud of his Cajun heritage and has passed that passion on to his seven children, 18 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The Broussard’s travelled to Europe on two occasions; both times strengthening their bond to their heritage by visiting France, the land of their ancestors. On both occasions Broussard engaged in wonderfully animated conversations with locals coming to understand the great similarities between the two languages and cultures. On their second trip to France, Broussard, always mindful of the influence music has had in his life, took Joyce on a very special outing to Avignon in the south of France. There, he serenaded her on the D’Avignon bridge with the song he learned from his music teacher at Maurice Elementary, Sur Le Pont D’Avignon. Passersby stopped and applauded with admiration of the beautiful moment he had created for all. Upon his return, Broussard called his aged music teacher, who was on her deathbed, to share the magical experience that she had inspired in him so many years ago. Although extremely weak and unable to speak, she shared her joy and gratitude of him remembering her with a smile and a tear.
Whether Broussard was starting the wave at Dodgers Stadium, leading the crowd in song at the Kentucky Derby or teaching himself sign language to communicate with a new employee with the village, he was always sharing his love for his fellow man and his overall Joie de vivre.