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.