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Mr. Robert Louis Fournet (Deceased)
210 Aurore Ave.
Lafayette, LA 70506
|Walked on in 1946-47 and lettered in 1949 and 1950 Football teams.
Bob's footnote section includes his obituary and part of Bob's story, which he wrote in 2000.
Obituary: Robert L. "Bob" Fournet (Football: 1947-50)
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Robert L. "Bob" Fournet
LAFAYETTE - Funeral services will be held at a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, September 25, 2008, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, for Robert L. "Bob" Fournet, 80, who passed away on Sunday, September 21, 2008, at Lafayette General Medical Center.
His Excellence The Most Reverend Glen Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles, will be Celebrant of the Mass and will conduct the funeral services.
Interment will take place in Lafayette Memorial Park.
He is survived by his sons, J. Jacques Fournet, II and Alana Lackey, of Fort Collins, Colo., Robert McClelland Fournet and Kelly Dupre, of Hemphill, Texas, and Henri Labbe Fournet and Tara Ann Fournet, of Granby, Colo.; his four brothers, Howard L. Fournet, Thomas R. Fournet, Frederick A. Fournet, and Daniel J. Fournet; and his two sisters, Anna Louise Fournet and Nell Fournet Comeaux.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Joan Ellen McClelland Fournet, two brothers, Paul A. Fournet and James A. Fournet; and one sister, Marie Jeanne Fournet Holly.
Born in 1928, Bob was the sixth of Jean Jacques and Ann Aurore Fournet's ten children. He was raised on the Fournet dairy farm located where the Autumnwood Place Shopping Center stands today. His life would parrallel the growth of modern day Lafayette; his childhood shaped by the Great Depression and WWII, his education and love of community allowed him first to benefit from, then contribute to Louisiana's burgeoning oil and gas industry and to the growth of our great University.
Bob lived all of his 80 years on the family property, often referred to as Fournetville. Bob's early years were shaped by life on a dairy farm, where milking cows and delivering milk to area homes came hours before classes began at Cathedral school. After graduating high school in 1945, Bob's goals to serve his country and to further his education would coincide as he entered college. Bob joined the Naval Reserve while enrolled at Southwestern Louisiana Institute, or SLI (now UL), and pursued a degree in Geology. Bob also managed to earn athletic letters playing football for the SLI Bulldogs. Those early years on the playing field innaugurated what would become a lifetime passion supporting UL athletics.
Bob's career in the oil and gas industry began soon after graduating from SLI in 1952, first with Hycalog and later with Eastman Directional Drilling. In 1953, the Department of the Navy awarded Bob the American Spirit Honor Award. In 1954 Bob married the love of his life, Joan Ellen McClelland, and together they raised three sons and helped change the face of the community. Bob and Joanie formed The Bob Fournet Company in 1972, a downhole directional surveying company. The Bob Fournet Company (BFC) would eventually employ over 140 people, worldwide. Known for its innovation, the company would go on to develop an industry changing directional surveying downhole tool.
Retirement years for Bob, were anything but retiring. After the sale of BFC in 1997, Bob's second career began. Since its inception in the early 70s, Bob has served as managing partner for Anse Berluchaud Land Company, developers of Autumnwood Place Shopping Center. The proximity of the shopping center to both UL Athletic Department and to Johnston Street would provide Bob with ample opportunities to share his boundless energy and intellect. As a member of the "Dirty Dozen and a Half", a dedicated group of stalwart UL fans, Bob was a vocal fixture at UL football, baseball and basketball games for many years. In 2001, Bob and other property owners along Johnston Street joined Lafayette Consolidated Government to further the cause of The Johnston Street Corridor Re-Development Team, a group pledged to formulate a master plan for the redevelopment of the venerable thoroughfare, one that Bob had witnessed its transformation from a dirt - to gravel - to blacktop - to five lane commercial artery.
The names of the organizations, clubs, civic groups and committees through which Bob contributed to his community are too numerous to list. In its place, lines from a prayer written by his father, Jean-Jacques Fournet, for his bride on their wedding night in 1921 better illuminate Bob's dedication to returning the gifts he'd been given,
" … Almighty God, this is our wedding night and we are before Thee in our bridal chamber, look down on us and hear our prayer. Bless our union …Make and keep us worthy of a family of fine little children who will be worthy of Thee and a credit to the community …"
For 80 years, Bob Fournet strived to answer his father's prayer. All those who's lives Bob touched felt his worthiness to Thee and remain grateful recipients of the community he so enriched.
The family requests that visiting hours be observed on Wednesday from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. and continue on Thursday from 8 a.m. until time of service.
A rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the funeral home.
Pallbearers will be Bob's sons, J. Jacques Fournet, II, Robert M. Fournet, Henri L. Fournet, James S. Comeaux, Brian P. Fournet, Charles H. Fournet, Steven McClelland, James J. Adams and Michael Donovan. Honorary pallbearers will be his brothers, Howard L. Fournet, Thomas R. Fournet, Frederick A. Fournet, Daniel J. Fournet, Don Beadle, George Starr, Jerry Daigle and Dave Alderman.
In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to remember the UL Lafayette Foundation, P.O. Box 44290, Lafayette, LA 70504 in memory of Bob Fournet, Fullfilling the Fatima Capital Campaign, Our Lady of Fatima Church, 2319 Johnston St., Lafayette, LA 70503, or St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College, 75376 River Road, Saint Benedict, LA 70457.
Personal condolences may be sent to the Fournet family at www.delhommefuneralhome.com.
Delhomme Funeral Home, 1011 Bertrand Drive Lafayette, is in charge of funeral arrangements.
Published on September 23, 2008.
Athletic Network Footnote: Click here for Bob tailgating in his golf cart before the Sept.8, 2007 game vs. Ohio http://www.athleticnetwork.net/picpopup.php?piclibID=4651
Click here for Dan McDonald's "Back for opening day" story about "The Dirty Dozen and a Half" published on 2/11/05
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Bob's story - written by him in 2000.
Robert Louis Fournet
I graduated from Lafayette High School in 1946. The interesting thing about my senior year was it was the first year that Lafayette High returned to football. We had 11 grades. They hired Skinny Ratcliffe from Lake Charles High to become our head coach at Lafayette High, and we had a fairly decent season. The most difficult thing I felt was finding enough guys to play and have enough equipment. It was right after World War II and we were using equipment that Lafayette High had probably not used since 1941. I don’t remember the last year they had an organized football team. I would guess probably 1941. Anyhow, we had a fairly decent season on senior year, which was Fall of 1945. We were lucky to get T. E. Bickham and Bill Bass, back from the war as Air Force officers, who were coming back to SLI to complete their education. They were practice teaching at Lafayette High, so they were our assistant coaches. Bass organized a boxing team in the Spring of ’46, which was our last semester in high school. He convinced me that they needed warm bodies at SLI so bad for Spring football that I should go over there and go out for football as a high schooler at SLI, which is unheard of in these years. So, I did get a taste of SLI football as a high schooler. The coach was Louie Whitman. Of course, the next year he was back at Lafayette High School. It was a foregone conclusion. Hadley Prudhomme, Harmon Roy’s stepfather, had finished at Tulane and he had contacted Tulane to get me a football scholarship at Tulane, but when all of the veterans came back after World War II, there was just no chance. In fact, I didn’t even have an opportunity to get a football scholarship at SLI, so I just walked on.
The graduation exercises were at the end of May. The more significant class members were Lanier Alingham, Harmon Roy, J. M. Perry, A. J. Antoine, Don Mosing, Janice Parker, Maggie Richard, Sis Calhoun.
I went straight to SLI from high school. In fact, Jim and I started SLI together in September ’46 and we had the same schedule. We both followed the engineering curriculum in that first semester in Fall 1946.
I joined the Naval Reserve in ’47 or ’48. Everybody was still registered at the draft board. You were given a deferment if you were in college. I don’t remember what the classification was at that time. Several of my buddies had joined the Naval Reserve, Ray Cornay, Don Beadle, George Starr. We had a surface unit at the airport. We would meet once a week. We would get two weeks of training duty on board ship somewhere in the summertime. And, it was a way of separating yourself out of the chance of being drafted into the army – one, and two, it gave you some income. Fred did the same thing, too. I remained a reservist until I was discharged from the Navy in 1953.
In 1949, we were given the opportunity to go to the first year at ROC school, a midshipmen school for training officers. The program or ROC was a program if you were an active Naval Reserve and you were in college, you would go to 3 months of officer training between Sophomore and Junior year, and 3 months of officer training between your Junior and Senior year. When you graduated you got your commission at graduation and your orders. Well, a bunch of us joined that program, not the least was Ray Cornay, Don Beadle, George Starr, and myself, and Jerry Daigle. In 1949, we did our first summer in San Diego in officer candidate school, like two and a half months. We went back again in 1950 and we were in San Diego in 1950 when the Korean War broke out. We went to San Diego by train. We all left together. The next year when we went out, they sent us money for our passage. We went to Barksdale and jumped on a B29 and got a free ride to San Francisco. Without seats, sat around with parachutes. The only time we had to buckle up was landing and taking off. About five of us went. It was fun. It was really great. I can remember crawling through that tunnel from the back of that airplane to the front. It was pressurized. That was incredible because I had never been on an airplane that big. I had already started my flight instructions with Buddy Henry back in 1948. I got goose pimples just arriving at Barksdale, knowing that we were “official transport”. We checked in at operations and operations said, “Sure, We’ll fly you over there.” We showed them our orders, saluted and jumped on an airplane. We had to be in our uniforms.
When we got to San Francisco, we contacted some buddies that we had been to ROC school the year before. They showed us all through San Francisco. Then, we rode the train down to San Diego. We had a ball. The train was called the “Coast Daylight.” It was such a beautiful ride in California. In those years, it was between wars, and San Diego is a much nicer place because there was no crunch of mega-billions or military people there. While we were there, both in ’49 and ’50, we had the pick of the girls because the area had been organized over the years to support military people with girlfriends and organizations. They hardly had anybody there. But, when we came out there as “midshipmen”, we got a lot of “intros” and introductions and invitations that really made it rich.
We were in San Diego in ’49 and ‘50. I supposed to graduate the following year. In the meantime, I changed my schedule. Fortunately, they allowed me to delay my graduation and my commission. I finally did graduate. I flunked the damn physical, as you may remember, because of the football injury. That was a really depressing time in my life, because I really did want to become an officer. I did complete the program but flunked the physical. I was to receive commission at graduation, as part of the graduation, only after passing the physical. I didn’t pass the physical. As a consequence, I was disenrolled from the program. Papa wrote a letter to Senator Ellender for me, a copy of which I have in my file. Ellender wrote back and said that he was sorry, that he had tried to get them to reenroll me, but they wouldn’t do that. He gave the history of the internal derangement of the left knee, surgically treated with residual quadricept atrophy and all that jazz. I remembered reading that so many times.
I then went to work for Superior Oil Company. Went to Lake Arthur. I was in a “training” program. Of course, while I was in college, I did a lot of work for Superior washing that old goose. So, I applied for and was accepted as a “trainee”, which meant go roughneck or go roustabout. So, they sent me to Lake Arthur. And, about that time, they were rigging up the KECK. An old buddy, Ben Dilly, Nolan Bendilly, and J. P. Harris were pushers on the rig and they needed some young grunts, so they asked Hack Denson if I could be transferred into their bailywick, which happened. We rigged up that rig and went out with it. Several of us did. And, they brought the crew on, and after we got on location, I was the assigned worm roughneck on Fred Buller’s crew. Subsequent to that, I moved to Earl Stubbs’ crew. While I was on there, I got a call from the army, preinduction physical. That scared the daylights out of me. Well, I went over to New Orleans and took the physical and they said don’t worry about a thing. You flunked the physical. I went back to work and got an induction notice. Somehow (pause), what they would do is they would bring you to New Orleans for a preinduction physical and only after they would bring you for induction would they actually give you a 4F. I did not know that. I found out later on. But, when I got that induction notice. I immediately went to see Hugh Wallis because I was still an inactive member of the naval reserve and I could request active duty. He said that if I didn’t want to go into the army, I should request active duty and he would arrange it for me. So, he did. Well, when I got my orders it was to boot camp in Great Lakes. A reserve company at Great Lakes in early 1953. I thought I would get some recognition for my previous training. They didn’t realize it and they didn’t recognize it, and they sent me to Great Lakes. That was the bad news, the good news was that the people in Great Lakes recognized very quickly who I was because of the officer training I had had and the qualifications I had, and they made me the company commander the first couple of weeks and the battalion commander the rest of the time. At graduation, I was given the American Spirit Honor Award, which I really didn’t know what it was when I got it. It only became significant to me when Larry Sifton, who was a DI in the marine corps and an employee of mine at BFC, saw it and asked if I got that. He said, “Good Heavens, they only give one of those a year.” I thought he was kidding me. Anyhow, I felt pretty good about that. I really felt comfortable running the battalion out there and running those parade reviews every weekend. I was given the opportunity to chose my field and I chose air controlman. I was sent to school in Norman, Oklahoma, when I finished boot. We were in Oklahoma University in a 3-story barracks. We had a fire drill about 2am in the morning one morning. All of a sudden, we are coming down those big old wide stairways, and I fell. I busted that knee, same knee. It got to be very big. I crippled around there for a couple of days and they said they would have to send me to the hospital. So, they sent me to the U. S. Naval Hospital in Memphis. I remained there as an ambulatory patient. They seemed hesitant to make a decision about me. So, I asked for a hearing with the commanding officer. Whoever was in charge of my section at the time said that the only way I could do that was request a captain’s mast. So, I said if that’s what it takes, OK. So, the word came back from the commanding officer not to do that, just to send me in. A Captain, a medical guy. So, I told him my story. I really wanted the navy to recognize the fact that I qualify as an officer and now I have to be submitted to being an enlisted man. But, if I’m not qualified to be an officer, why am I qualified to be an enlisted man. Now, if I’m not qualified to be an enlisted man, then I should be given the opportunity to be given an Honorable Discharge and go back to my home and work in my field. I’m a college graduate and I’d like to work in my field. The guy said he had a deal for me. If I would sign that I would not claim or accept service connected injury, they would give me a discharge next week. He said I noticed your smile. I said, “Yes, Sir.” So, that’s the way they worked it out. They gave me an Honorable Discharge for the convenience of government. I don’t know to this day what I could have asked for. It wasn’t really what I wanted. I wanted out. I was separated in Naval Hospital, Memphis.
When I got back home I was free, discharged from the navy. No problem. I got qualified by the draft board as 1A again, and ordered to take a preinduction physical. It was still the Korean War you see, the end of the Korean War. I was really down in my getalong. I have to go to New Orleans again. I’m walking through this line to sign up and this guy stops me and says, “Hey, What are you doing here?” He recognized me from the time before. Well, I told him that I had orders to come back. He said that they had rejected me 9 or 10 months ago, a year and a half ago, or whatever it was. I said, “You are kidding me.” “Why were they sending you back?” “Hey, I don’t know, when the government gives you orders, you say, ‘Yes, Sir’.” He told me to come here and took me to see a Colonel. The Colonel looked at that and said (scribble, scribble) and he signed me off and said, “Son, go home. You’ll get a 4F in the mail shortly.” And, I did. It was all over then.
The interesting thing is about 10 years after Joanie and I were married, I was reclassified – 5F. You know what a 5F is? A 4F that is too old. (laugh, laugh) As far as I know, I’m still classified as 5F.
My discharge was December 7, 1953, or like early December.
Tom told me one day that Bill McClelland’s sister was Shirley’s roommate. Tom got me a blind date with Joanie. It got real good after that. That was before I got finally discharged from the navy, around October. Shortly thereafter, I went to work with Hycalog in October 1953. My first assignment was on a rig in Sarepta, Louisiana, out of Shreveport. My roommate in Shreveport was a fellow by the name of Mire from New Iberia. Tom had told me that he was up there. I called him and he said he had a big apartment there and would like to have a roommate to come in and share the cost. Black headed guy from New Iberia. I was hot and heavy with romancing Joanie at the time.
|Football:|| 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950|
|Military Veteran:|| 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953|
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