This eighty-eight-year-old, “Clark,” “E. Clark,” “Mr. G,” “Dad,” “Pops” departed this life on Thursday, March 19, 2020. He was an attorney for over sixty years, graduating from the LSU Law School in 1958. His jobs included father, attorney, and state representative from former District 69. He was born in New Roads, La. to Vida Swindler and Alton Francis Gaudin in 1931. He graduated from LSU in 1952, served briefly in the Army artillery during the Korean War, returned home to deliver pressed clothes for his father who owned and operated New Roads’ Riverside Cleaners. Getting a taste of working for his father, he entered LSU law school and didn’t have to take the LSAT! I remember him recalling his experiences with some professors like the LSU Law School Legend J. Denson Smith and attended around the same time as did Prof. Frank Maraist. Dad called himself as a C student who had to work hard to pass. He met William O. Templet of Plaquemine, La. there, who became a long-time dear friend. My sisters and I grew up calling Templet “Uncle Bill.” Dad joined the Bar in 1958 and married Marianne Hurst in 1959, with whom he grew up in New Roads. He and Marianne were parents of three children– Allison (married to Alton Ashy), Dana Gaudin, and me (married to Hope Hargroder).
A Legal Luddite
Dad’s legal career of over sixty years had him attracting mostly succession and collections cases. He met many good and loyal clients and was accustom to the way law was practiced before the digital age–fees as a percentage of the gross estate; having staff type your letters, Dictaphones, research from paper materials! When the digital wave–computers, emails, research using discs, or the internet–came upon the scene, he didn’t take to it much. He may have been a Luddite in matters of law practice!
He practiced law with many good lawyers: Edwin Smith, under the name Smith & Gaudin; “Beau” Olinde and Charlie Spedale, under the name Gaudin, Olinde, & Spedale; and, as a solo attorney, he shared office space with Bill Templet, William “Bill” Doran, Durward Casteel, and later, Marcus Foote, Bruce Kuehne, and me at Kuehne, Foote & Gaudin; Bob Fenet; Jennifer Treadway, and; “Chic” Moore at his office building on Perkins Rd.
There was the time when Judge Freddie Pitcher and the First Circuit Court of Appeal worked out of the LWCC Building on Acadian Thruway. Dad’s office was there, too. He and Judge Pitcher owned the same make, model, and colored car and parked them in the same covered area. One day, the battery in Dad’s car died and he sent someone to charge/replace it. The service tech went to Judge Pitcher’s car thinking it was Dad’s. He had Dad’s keys and they opened Judge Pitcher’s car! Judge Pitcher left the building, entered the garage, and saw his car hood and door open and some stranger working on his car without his knowledge or permission! After investigating, everyone had a long laugh! We still don’t know how Dad’s car keys opened Judge’s Pitcher’s car.
Dad’s career will also be much remembered for his political passion. He served twenty-one years as state representative for District 69. In 1966, he was the first East Baton Rouge resident, registered Republican, who was elected to the Legislature since the 1870 Reconstruction period. He also won six consecutive legislative elections. He lost two elections: the first in 1968 and the second in 1991. Dad was staunchly pro-life, pro-family, pro small government, opposed abolishing Louisiana’s unique forced heirship rules, and fought for passing Right-To-Work legislation. He attended many Republican National Conventions, loved President Ronald Reagan, and retained an avid interest in politics until his death. Being in politics for as many years as he was, I would have naturally expected many friends and colleagues to pay their respects at his funeral but COVID ironically limited attendance to only immediate family.
Besides being a champion of forced heirship policy, he stirred attention for a bill he sponsored for marijuana for medical treatment. Here’s part of a 2002 Gambit article I found that mentions him by name:
In 1991, another lawmaker took a stab at reviving Louisiana’s medical-marijuana law. Rep. Clark Gaudin, R-Baton Rouge, introduced the bill after a young man rolled into Gaudin’s office in his wheelchair to talk to the lawmaker about his reliance on pot.
“He would have some type of convulsions from time to time, and he would shake like he had 7,500 volts running in his body,” recalls Gaudin, now an attorney in private practice. “He said [marijuana] was the only thing that gave him any kind of relief.”
Gaudin, a conservative Republican, says the medical-marijuana issue transcended party lines. “A lot of my colleagues were a little surprised that I would be the author of the bill,” he says. “But [sic] agents, are not what you want; it’s the THC . . . but if you don’t smoke it, that takes away from the recreational benefit that people want. And how many people are claiming medical need when they are really looking for use recreationally?”
Faith, Service & Liberty
He was a principled man, for sure, and it’s one of his remarkable attributes. He will be remembered for: never miss Sunday Mass; taste everything at least once, even if you don’t want it; always vote. His kids remember he lived to grill a steak and one could not use lighting fluid because it marred the taste; when they were forced to rake the yard, they not only were expected to collect the leaves but weren’t done until they collected the dead grass underneath, too; barbecue chicken was one of his “things”– as was his famous Old Fashions, which were so potent they ignited the party. He loved music–especially from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis, Jr.– and jazz. It was said he was a good dancer. He often recollected the fun he and his friends had, when younger, partying in Morganza, La. He rarely passed on an invitation to cut a rug with someone at a wedding or election party. He loved horses, cowboys, Native American art, John Wayne, and war movies. He served Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church for over fifty years as a parent, lector, usher, Eucharistic Minister. He joined Kiwanis and was a captain of a Manresa Retreat House weekend. Many will remember him for his snazzy suits and dress shoes (like his father, Alton), sweet cologne, love of figurines and crossword puzzles, later in his life, his Fedoras . . . and forever, the principles he revered: Faith, Service to others, and Liberty!