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Tim Laughlin Remembers Pete Fountain

7.3.30 – 8.6.16

Pete Fountain (photo courtesy of the artist)
Pete Fountain (photo courtesy of the artist)

Farewell, my friend Pierre Dewey LaFontaine Jr. On Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, you were likely smiling down on us as we sent you off in style, starting with a packed St. Louis Cathedral, followed by a hundred musicians waiting outside to second line you down Royal Street in the French Quarter. We were saying goodbye to the heart and soul of New Orleans, and everybody there wanted to be a part of it. It was my honor to be asked by your family to play “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” at the service, using the same clarinet—Ol’ Betsy—that you originally used to record it. The eulogies were heartfelt, with many of the stories and quotes only familiar to those closest to you. A repeated phrase was “That’s so Pete.”

Your Half-Fast Walking Club celebrated 57 years on Mardi Gras Day, and at the service, many of the members dressed in full regalia in honor of you. I spoke with one of the wives of an officer of the Club. She spoke of the friendship, love and generosity you showed him. I learned that when you found out he was diagnosed with cancer, you went to his house unannounced, armed with a sack of oysters. For the next two or so hours, you shared his two favorite things in the world, oysters and your friendship. You shucked the entire sack, until they were all gone. That’s something only you would do. “So Pete.”

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