James Donald Elder
September 9, 1936  -  December 21, 2018

James Donald Elder

OPELOUSAS, LA – James Donald Elder, 82, of Opelousas, died on Friday, December 21, 2018, at his home. Private Funeral services will take place at Sibille Funeral Homes of Opelousas.

Donald attended preparatory school at Jefferson Military College in Natchez, Mississippi and high school at Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Opelousas. Donald was a graduate of the National Hardwood Lumber Association training school in Memphis, Tennessee and was an instructor, and certified lumber inspector throughout his lengthy career. With the help of his father-in-law, Charlie Perry, Donald founded, owned and operated ELCO Forest Products, Inc. in Opelousas in 1968 and later, in 1978, founded Elder Forest Products, Inc. in Sulphur, Louisiana.

He was the founding partner of Elder Properties, a timber holding LLC with properties in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. He was especially proud of this accomplishment, which he saw as both a sound investment and a vehicle to bring his extended family closer together.

He has been active in the lumber industry for over 60 years. Donald was a past president and member of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association and Southern Forest Products Association and was a member of numerous other trade organizations.

In his later years he proudly served as a consultant and provided materials for Beau Soleil, the solar house designed and built by the team from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, first-time competitors in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2009. The home went on to win the People’s Choice Award.

Donald was an avid World War II history buff and had many hobbies over the years, including piloting single engine planes, radio-controlled aircraft, boating, woodworking, writing novels, and his lifelong love of gourmet cooking – and eating!

He is preceded in death by his parents, Joe Elder, Sr. and Frankie Wyble Elder, his wife Clara Jean Perry, and his son Charles Carey.

He is survived by his children, Mark Donald, Rachel Claire, Bedford Paul, Amie Francis (Todd Huber); daughter-in-law Janna Burton Elder; grandchildren, Kaye Elizabeth (Will Kirby), Andrea Catherine, Elizabeth Holloman, August West, and Benjamin Francis; brother and sister, Edna Helen Elder Brown, Francis Dwight Elder and wife Mary Veillon Elder; his life-long friend and cousin Roy Elder; he is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Words of comfort to the family may be expressed at www.sibillefuneralhomes.com. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Sibille Funeral Home of Opelousas.


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  1. Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz
    Port Barre, LA

    May peace and comfort be with you and your family at this difficult time.

  2. Lois & Kenneth Boagni
    Opelousas, LA

    We loved your father and valued his friendship. We had many good times with him. Our prayers are with all of you. Lois & Kenneth Boagni and family

  3. Gregory DeJean
    New York, NY

    My condolences to you and your family. I remember you Dad larger than life itself.

  4. Jeanette M Bourgeois
    Opelousas, LA

    I have known Donald and Clara Jean all my like. Edna and I went to school together and spent many nights and times at the Elder home. Later years I lived in Indian Hills and we were all friends. My love and condolences to all of the family. Prayers and a memorial will be sent

  5. Dick Kennison
    sulphur, ME

    Donald & I were partners for 17 years in Elder/Kenfor in Sulphur,la.We went through some very tough times together inbusiness.Our friendship was always very strong.He gave me an opportunity to run a business& rarely if ever questioned any decision i made.I learned a lot from him-both things to do & things not to do!I will always be grateful to him for his teaching me & trusting me & believing in my abaility.Over the past few years we grew apart but i still cared about him & his children whom i thought as cousins more or less.I will miss him & pray that he & B.B.are together again.Sincerely,Dick Kennison

  6. Heather Brown Pazak
    New Kensington, PA

    I will always remember the love, support and kindness your dad showed to our family over the years. Family vacations, Thanksgiving's and road trips were always better with the Elder clan. I know that our parents are looking down on us and smiling. Much love to you all.

  7. Jerry & Jimmye Sisco
    Sulphur, LA

    Our prayers to all of the family.

  8. Julie Veltin Bernard
    Lafayette M, LA

    My Dad love Your Dad so much!
    My sincere condolences Mark 🙏🏻

  9. Williams Family
    De Ridder, LA


  10. Phillip Prejean
    Plaquemine, LA

    My condolences to the family of Donald. Our friendship went back over seventy years ago. Our plane ride (my first ever) was with Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Jeff DeBlanc who flew Mr. Elder all over the United States after WWII. May Donald’s soul Rest In Peace forever.

  11. Geraldine Soileau
    Opelousas, LA

    My deepest sympathies to all of you. Donald was so nice and loved to see others succeed. His encouragement built up others and his positive attitude and motivational talks is what I will remember most about him.

  12. Iris Diesi
    Lafayette, LA

    My sincere condolences for The dealth of your father!
    Our friendship goes way back !
    My prays are with all of your family!

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