Long time public servant, Judge Joseph Anthony LaHaye, 91, died peacefully on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020. Judge LaHaye will be interred at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville, LA, in a private service on Wednesday, April 15 with immediate family attending.
The Leonville resident is preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Nettie Blanchard LaHaye, his parents, Joseph and Gladys LaHaye, his youngest son, John Etienne LaHaye, and his sister, Judith Ognibene. He is survived by his sons David Anthony LaHaye and Paul Arthur LaHaye, both from Leonville, his daughters Julienne Blixt of The Woodlands, TX, Marianne Hebert of Lafayette, LA, and Denise Tumlin of Woodstock, GA, his brothers Dr. Thomas LaHaye of Eunice, LA, and Dr. Philip LaHaye of Shreveport, LA, 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren.
Joe had “a good life” as he often recalled. He was born in Elton, LA on August 2, 1928. He grew up in Leonville and attended the Academy of Immaculate Conception in Opelousas where he completed high school at the age of 15. From there, Joe went on to study at the Southwestern Louisiana Institute in Lafayette where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, and by the age of 22, received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, LA. He established his first law practice in Leonville, then joined DeJean Law firm in Opelousas. At the age of 36 he was duly elected to the Twenty-Seventh Judicial District Court where he honorably served consecutive unopposed terms for 33 years. Joe also served on the State of Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, was honored and awarded a lifetime membership in the National Association of Probate Judges, and was a member of the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society, the State of Louisiana Bar Association, St. Landry Parish Bar Association, Retired Judges Association, and the Loyola University Century Club.
Judge LaHaye was a steadfast servant of the Lord and lifelong member of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Leonville. Joe, together with his wife Nettie were awarded the Bishop’s Medal for dedicated service. For many years, he served as a lay minister, catechism teacher and throughout his life Joe fulfilled the Blessed Mother’s request by observing First Saturdays. He served as President of the Guild for the Carmelite Monastery, was a member of the Bishop Jules B. Jeanmard General Assembly, Third and Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, Woodmen of the World, and the Opelousas Rotary Club where he served as President twice. He was formerly on the Board of Directors of the J. Michael Morrow Memorial Nursing Home and a Board Member of the Arnaudville General Hospital during its construction. With his wife Nettie, Joe was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion within his community and to residents of the nursing home for many years.
Judge LaHaye was “Judge”, “Joe” or “Cot” to many friends. He was a lifelong scholar, a man of his word, an avid reader, humble and charitable. He had a deep love for nature and adored the Great West, particularly the summers he spent at the University of Nevada where he taught law at the U.S. Judicial Conferences for Trial Judges. Joe loved telling stories and quoted poetry, enjoyed a good joke, birdwatching, proudly spoke French and embraced his heritage. He was admired for being honest and fair. Impelled by his deep faith and love for justice, his doors were open freely to anyone who needed friendly counsel. Weekends were never off limits and people regularly sought his help and wisdom. Joe loved to hunt and fish and was a member of the National Wildlife Association. For years he and Nettie toiled to create a beautiful home and garden known to many as ‘the schoolhouse’ in Pecaniere. There, they delighted in hosting family and friends as well as guests from around the world. He took great pride in nurturing the beautiful camelias, azaleas, and daylilies around the schoolhouse grounds.
Special thanks are given to his caregivers while at his home: Mona, Dot, Ethel, Anita, Joan, and Carolyn; and to the nursing staff at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home and Opelousas General Hospital.
Due to the COVID-19 gathering restrictions, a memorial mass and celebration of life will be held at a later date. Should you wish to view and sign the family guestbook, please visit wwww.sibillefuneralhomes.com. In lieu of flowers, the LaHaye family humbly suggests that any donations be made in the name of Judge Joseph LaHaye to the Carmelite Convent & Monastery, 1250 Carmel Drive, Lafayette, LA. 70501.
Words of Comfort to the family may be expressed at www.sibillefuneralhomes.com. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Sibille Funeral Home of Opelousas.