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Olympe Arceneaux Butcher – Class of 1941

Olympe Arceneaux Butcher

Class of 1941

In the fall semester of 1935, I enrolled at SLI as Olympe Therese Arceneaux in the field of education.  I was fifteen, a graduate of Carencro High School, ready and anxious to be at SLI.  Papa had often driven me, as a youngster in front of  SLI, on the gravel road in our touring car and would tell me, “You will go to school there someday.”

By 1935, all of my family had already enjoyed college life and graduated from Southwestern: two brothers–Benjamin L. Arceneaux and Emile G. Arceneaux, Jr. and four sisters–Louise, Blanche, Evangeline, and Rose.  We lived on Louis Arceneaux Road only a few miles away.  Our unanimous interest was in the field of education since my father, Emile Galbert Arceneaux, Sr., was a member of the Lafayette Parish School Board.  My mother, Rose Mouton Arceneaux, encouraged us to further our education after high school.

My high school Math teacher and debate coach, Rex McCullough, had told me I would be a teacher.  Did he know that my whole Arceneaux family were already in the discipline of education and had obtained their degrees from SLI?

Lou and Blanche, my two oldest sisters, paved my way into SLI.  I remember as a Freshman, teachers such as Miss Dupre and Miss Hebrard, calling me “Blanche” or “Louise” and quickly saying, “Oh! But I know you are Olympe.”  Miss Edith Dupre and Miss Gabrielle Hebrard were wonderful teachers who encouraged me.  But so were Miss Hugh McLaurin, Dean F.M. Hamilton, Harry Griffin, Emily Huger, Harriet Joor, Mrs. Eloi Girard, Maxim Doucet, Agnes Edwards, Vesta Bourgeois, and many more.

Since I commuted to school each day, my sister Lou dropped me off in the circle in front of Martin Hall on her way to teach at Central School.  In my pocket was my weekly allowance of $1.50 for lunch.  Sandwiches were 10 cents and a coke 5 cents at the Rendevouz across the street, or we could walk a little further to Heymann’s Drugstore for a sandwich and a drink and still have change.  Because I was the last of our big family, Papa was happy that Lou could help me with tuition, books and lunch.

My fondest memories of SLI are of my many friends.  There were many beauties in the L’Acadien and we all knew each other.  I think the enrollment then was about 3000 or so students.

We commuters met in the basement of Martin Hall, our large room called the Girls’ Club Room.  We preferred calling it the Tea Room.  Our house mother was Mrs. Earl Barnett who was most helpful.  Should we get sick, she called in Miss Adrienne Mouton, the school nurse.  We met in the Tea Room between classes to do our homework, eat our lunch, talk about exciting events on campus or just to lounge around.  Some of the dormitory girls came to visit us in the Tea Room.

Mrs. Barnett commented one day, “We are such a large congenial family.  We must have an election of officers and invite our mothers!”  How exciting and my mother came!


The only office I had ever held was secretary to our “Crusaders” debating team in high school, not dreaming that Mrs. Barnett would like for me to be her secretary!  In this election, I had an opponent in Iris Martin, and since she came from a political family, I felt sure that she would win.  But, au contraire, my mother was very proud of me when Lou and I came home from school announcing that I had won by a big margin!  Secretary to Mrs. Barnett!!

Mrs. Barnett taught me especially well how to write invitations, announcements, and “thank you” notes.  This honor was just the beginning of the good things that were in store for me at SLI.

In growing older, I still have delightful memories my many student friends and teacher friends, the many classes I enrolled in Home Economics, biology, tennis classes, the ball games, the dances we attended.  I especially enjoyed the folk dancing classes taught by Mrs. Vesta Bourgeois, Miss Jessie Keep and Miss Hugh McLaurin.  At the conclusion of the semester, we were allowed to show off these folk dances in the big circle in front of Martin Hall for the whole university and the towns people.  How I enjoyed this excitement!

After school, we met near the circle to wait for our ride home, and sat under the beautiful oak trees planted in 1900 by President Stephens.  Memories!

At eighteen years of age, I began my teaching career in Ascension Parish.  I later taught in Evangeline Parish before coming home in 1939 to teach at Judice Central School.  By 1940, I was happy to be at Myrtle Place School.  I was home again.  Dean Maxim Doucet handed me my diploma in the 1941 summer session.

In 1947, after one year of getting to know each other, William Butcher, Jr. also an SLI alumni, and I were married.  We have two sons: Dr. Donald Kent Butcher, Chiropractor and General Practitioner; Ronald William Butcher; and four grandchildren.  Ron attended USL and Tulane and is now a Board Certified Social Worker (W) in Lafayette.  One of our grandchildren, Brian Jared Butcher, is presently enrolled in Engineering at USL.

In summer and night classes I enrolled in courses such as geology, geography, world lands, lapidary and French.  In 1975, after needing only three subjects to obtain my SLS (Second Language Specialist) degrees in French, I was given a scholarship to the University of Paul Valerie in Montpelier, France to finish these three courses–French Grammar, French Geography and French Psychology.

I spent five weeks in French Immersion.  I traveled to the top of Mount Blanc, to Switzerland, Rome, Carcasonne, Lourdes, Paris.  I even visited my cousins in Blois in the Chateau Aria of France Thrilling!   USL sent me!

As an average student, I have had a very interesting and exciting life.  I attribute many of my experiences to my college training at SLI (USL).

Most interesting is the fact that I have attended USL under all presidents of the college:  Dr. Edwin Stephens, Mr. Lether Frazer, Dr. Joel Fletcher, Dr. Clyde Rougeau and Dr. Ray Authement , all my friends all great educators!

I am a retired teacher having taught more than 40 years in the schools of Louisiana, traveling and especially enjoying my French language.

At present, I am writing some of this history, since I am still enrolled at USL in the wonderful classes of Joan Stear. “We write lest we forget”

Mrs. William Butcher, Jr.

(Olympe Arceneaux)