Dr. Donald Pavy of New Iberia, who cared deeply for generations of patients and was a pioneer in conserving marine resources four decades ago, died Monday. He was 88.
Pavy’s accomplishments as a conservationist, as someone who also cared about the future of recreational fishing for speckled trout, were being touted soon after his death. A memorial service will be held Aug. 1 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church for Pavy, who donated his body to medical science.
“You know, Don Pavy was a visionary leader. He was a straight shooter and a blessing to everyone he encountered. He had a soft touch and he made everyone feel important,” Jeff Angers of Baton Rouge, said.
Angers, who was born and raised in Franklin and grew up in Lafayette, is president of the Center for Sport Fishing Policy, a national organization that represents the saltwater recreational fishing industry. He served 15 years as the executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana before becoming director of the Center for Coastal Conservation in Baton Rouge, which became the Center for Sport Fishing Policy.
The Angers and Pavy families have been friends for generations, Angers said. Those families are proud to call the Teche Area home and Pavy was at home living, working and fishing along the coast in Iberia Parish.
Angers, 56, praised Pavy’s leadership during the late 1970s and 1980s when sport fishermen stood up to commercial fishermen in the Sportsman’s Paradise. Dedicated people with deep convictions spoke up during those volatile years along the coast between Texas and Mississippi.
The “country doctor,” as he has been called by some, was one of those people.
“He’s been a great leader in so many fields. He will be sorely missed in and around Acadiana and as a leader in our state,” he said.
Pavy, who was born and raised in Opelousas, and his good friend, the late Lester Gonsoulin, another area outdoorsman and pioneering conservationist, combined to be the driving force that helped the late Albert Bankston get Save Our Specks going in the Sportsman’s Paradise. Locally, Pavy and Gonsoulin raised awareness and support.
Save Our Specks eventually became the Gulf Coast Conservation Association, the predecessor of CCA-Louisiana, which was born in 1983.
Angers was inducted into the CCA-Louisiana Hall of Fame in March 2010 along with Bankston, Rusty Vincent and Jimmy Jenkins. He was named the growing conservation organization’s executive director in 1992 and served in that role until 2007.
The son of Bob Angers Jr. and Geraldine Beaullieu Angers was the point man in the state legislature as the organization successfully pushed to have gill nets banned and redfish protected as gamefish starting in the early 1990s and realizing its goal in 1995. The Franklin native had valuable experience working in the legislature as an aide before he graduated from LSU.
Angers said his passion for conservation was fueled by men like Pavy.
“He really was before my time leading CCA. I tell you … there were three leaders who formed Save Our Specks in the 1970s — Albert Bankston, Jerry Waguespack and Don Pavy. Those people were focused on good stewardship of our marine resources at a time when the state of Louisiana really wasn’t focused on stewardship of our marine recourses,” Angers said, noting it was a period when there were no creel limits on speckled trout and the success of a fishing trip was measured by how many boxes (ice chests) filled with fish that the boat brought back home.
“Don Pavy knew there was something wrong with that. He, Albert Bankston and Jerry Waguespack led the culture revolution to get anglers focused on stewardship of our marine fisheries,” Angers said.
Pavy loved to fish for and catch speckled trout, no doubt about that. Ask Kirk Sieber, an accountant who owns Tax Services Inc. in New Iberia.
“We had quite a few trips, a lot of good trips. That was many years ago,” Sieber said Friday morning. “I was able to fish with him over the years. He was a pleasure to be around. He was a great fisherman. I enjoyed my time with him.”
Mostly, he said, Pavy took him to the speckled trout hotspots at the Eugene Island blocks in near-offshore waters of the Gulf. Conversations in the boat inevitably turned to conservation at times as they rode out, fished and rode back.
Sieber, 60, learned a lot.
“He believes in protecting the fisheries. It wasn’t always about catching boxfuls. It was about enjoying the fisheries. Enjoying being on the water,” said the man who co-founded CCA-Louisiana’s Sugar Chapter here in the heart of Acadiana.
“You know, I was involved with CCA at its early stage, some 30 years ago. The organization was set up to protect the resources we had in Louisiana, a spinoff to what Dr. Pavy had years before (SOS),” Sieber said.
Pavy definitely influenced him, he said. Pavy’s passion rubbed off.
“Yes, it did. I had a passion for speckled trout fishing as well. I still do today. It’s a great resource (speckled trout) we have in Louisiana and, hopefully, will be for years to come,” Sieber said.
Thanks to Pavy, he might have added.