MARY MEAUX — Nederland’s Diane LaPoint leaves lasting legacy of service

Published 12:36 am Thursday, June 29, 2023

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When I first met Diane LaPoint in 2011 she was coming on board as director of the B.A. “Booty” Ritter Senior Citizens Center in Nederland.

Diane and husband Jim LaPoint used to go to the center together before she took over. He died the previous year of cancer after 47 years of marriage and I felt this job was something she needed in her time of grief, though I never would have told her that.

Her friendly, outgoing personality drew people in and there always seemed to be smiles on the faces of the seniors at the center.

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Sadly, LaPoint died last week at the age of 77 after a brief illness. The news took me by surprise. I think the last time I spoke with her might have been a year ago; I had promised to come by the center and see what they were up to for a story. I regret I got busy with this and that and never made it.

LaPoint had a way of getting people caught up in her enthusiasm. In 2012 she had the idea of the seniors taking part in what was then called Mid-South Jefferson County Relay For Life. Their participation would be “rocking for a cure.”

“I realized some might not be able to walk (the track during the event) but they can rock,” LaPoint told me in April 2012.

And they did.

The plan to take part in the fundraising event was near and dear as the center had lost some members to cancer, she said.

The senior’s Rocking for a Cure team stayed active. LaPoint told us of how a group of the seniors worked together to knit and crochet caps for cancer survivors and handed them out during Relay For Life events.

I remember seeing LaPoint and her group of seniors at Nederland Heritage Festival selling quilts and crocheted items. There she was sitting behind a table filled with beautiful handmade items and smiling, as she always seemed to be.

Nederland Mayor Don Albanese called LaPoint “one of the finest ladies in the world.”

“She really cared for her job at the senior center and we will miss her,” Albanese said. “She never met a stranger. She had so many friends within the city.”

City Manager Chris Duque said LaPoint was an amazing director who sincerely cared for every patron and visitor.

“She strengthened the working relationship between the city and center,” Duque said. “She was an incredibly sweet lady. We will miss her dearly.”

I learned a bit more about this sweet lady when I saw her obituary. After she married, he and her family moved to Alaska, “where she raised five children off the grid in a log cabin.”

And if that’s not enough, she worked and trained Alaskan sled dogs for the Iditarod.

To say I was shocked when I read about her Alaskan adventures would be an understatement.

The obituary goes on to tell of her life in Nederland, of supporting her children’s sports and athletics, fundraisers, Meals on Wheels, of her beloved church and more.

“Diane never once met a stranger, she never walked away from a challenge, and dedicated her life to her family and the service of others. She truly cared for others and made sure they always had what they needed long before considering herself,” her obituary read.

She will be missed. Farewell my friend.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at