Bobbie “Doc” Deshotel is pictured in 2018 as he reminisces about the near half a century he has spent as an Evangeline Parish School Board Member by looking through a scrapbook that his granddaughter Sarah made for him. Doc was the longest serving school board member in the State of Louisiana, and he will remain the longest serving in history due to the fact that in 2008 term limits were placed on school board members. He passed away Friday, May 22, at the age of 83. (Gazette file photo)
Dr. Deshotel passes
One of Basile and Evangeline Parish’s greatest leaders has gone on to his eternal reward. On Friday, May 22, Dr. Bobbie Deshotel left town and this earth after living in and serving the Basile community for 58 years.
A 1954 graduate of Vidrine High School and 1960 graduate of the LSU Medical School, Deshotel began his practice in 1962 and was just short of 50 years when he retired in 2011.
At the time of his death, he was still serving as the Basile school district representative on the Evangeline Parish School Board, a position he held for 51 years.
Deshotel also served as mayor of Basile for five years during the 1960s. He was a member of the board of directors of Basile State Bank and a parishioner of St. Augustine Catholic Church and had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary.
Over the years, he served as assistant coroner for Evangeline Parish, founding member and president of the La. Swine Festival Association, member of the Basile Athletic Association, team doctor for the Bearcats, Little League coach, president of the Woodmen of the World, volunteer firefighter, and scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of Troop 76.
In 1981, the La. Swine Festival Association crowned the community leader as king of the festival.
In an interview with the Ville Platte Gazette in 2018, Deshotel said, “During my residency I was working at Tulane Hospital, I remember telling everybody at the hospital that if they get anyone that speaks French, to let me know,” said Doc. “One of my patients ended up being the mayor of Basile, and he told me, ‘I want you to come to Basile.’ ”
It didn’t take much convincing to get Doc to move to Basile in 1963 once he returned to Evangeline Parish.
Doc said, “When I came to Basile, the people were like me. They were from the country, so it made the move here very easy.”
In 1969, Fulton J. (Red) Bacon, Basile’s school board member, died unexpectedly, and Deshotel was called upon to complete his term and has remained in the post to his death, receiving opposition in only two elections. His 51 years in the position is a Louisiana record for a school board member and will never be broken because the state has now implemented term limits.
As a school board member, he was always proud of the structures, renovations, and additions completed during his years of service, including the Basile High School complex, the W. W. Stewart School campus, and the Hanson Field all-weather track.
BHS paid tribute to the long serving school board member by naming the school’s weight room in his honor. Athletics was one of the areas that the good doctor especially supported, having spearheaded the school district’s athletic tax, which dates back to 1984. The tax provides extra pay for Basile High’s coaches and funds athletic equipment and improvements.
Deshotel also served as mayor of Basile for five years, giving him three big hats at the time - community doctor, school board member, and mayor. During his years leading the town, he was able to secure grants to build the present town hall, fire station, police station, and community center and provided improvements to the town park. The center, which long housed the senior citizen program, was named the Dr. Bobbie Deshotel Community Center in 2012 in a proclamation of Mayor Berline Sonnier. In the same year, the town renamed Third Street as Dr. Bobbie Deshotel Avenue.
In 1995, The Basile Weekly named Dr. Deshotel as its December Citizen of the Month. Bernadine Leonards, in nominating him for the honor said, “He was a natural leader, particularly appropriate in our small community, as he could speak French as well as English. We looked to him and continue to look to him for guidance.”
The letter continued, “His schedule is never ending. We shall never forget that he would get up early every morning and be at the hospital around 4 a.m. to make his daily rounds at Moosa and Savoy hospitals along with additional home visits. He faithfully kept his office hours without an associate, besides all of his other medical duties. These responsibilities never interfered with other commitments. Nothing was ever too much for him.”
The letter went on to tell of many personal experiences that the nominating family had shared with Dr. Deshotel as their physician, of the many house calls that he made, the personal phone calls, the caring hand and lending ear that were always available day or night.
“Doc’s spirit still clearly shapes our community. His family and friends cherish him and remain uncompromisingly proud of his many accomplishments,” concluded Leonards.