The Friends of Tommy Comeaux group erects a memorial dedicated to the physician-musician’s other love: cycling. By Walter Pierce
[Clarification: The funds to build the memorial bike stop for Tommy Comeaux were donated specifically for that purpose by “Friends of Tommy,” a private group comprising Robbie and Julie Bush, Alan and Shelley Breaud, Cajun Cyclists, Bob and Sandy Giles, Lenny and Christine Lemoine, John and Mary Schutte, and Frank and Peggy Camalo. No funds generated for the traditional music program at UL Lafayette were used.]
It’s been 15 years since Dr. Tommy Comeaux died when he was struck by an out-of-control SUV while cycling in the Broussard area. Cycling was one of Comeaux’s passions, although most people knew him as a pathologist at Our Lady of Lourdes and many more knew him as a multi-instrumentalist alumnus of seminal rock and Cajun bands Coteau and Beausoleil.
Photo by Robin May
For the first time since the year he died, the annual Medicine Ball fundraising concert will not be held, in large part because the goal of those concerts — to raise $1 million to establish a traditional music program at UL Lafayette in Comeaux’s honor — was surpassed. UL students are learning Cajun fiddle and zydeco accordion at the university.
But the love for Comeaux and the fire to do good in his memory haven’t dimmed, and friends of the late musician recently put some of the surplus funds generated by the committee’s fundraising into building a memorial bicycle rest stop along a scenic route popular with cycling enthusiasts — a place not far from where Comeaux was killed in November of 1997.
“We raised more than $1 million; we still have $40- or $50,000 in the bank, and there’s been a lot of discussion among the committee about whether the committee should disband or keep fundraising,” says Lafayette architect Allen Bacque, who was involved with the project. “The fundraising would go toward scholarships probably to help support the study of traditional music. We don’t know where the committee’s going, but that’s a whole other story.”
An avid cyclist himself, Bacque became friends with Comeaux as members of an unofficial offshoot of the Cajun Cyclists club, taking long, brisk weekend rides through the Cajun countryside, frequently along scenic Bayou Tortue Road in Broussard.
“Biking is where I knew Tommy from. I mean I knew him as a musician up on stage, but I had never met him as a musician. I met him biking,” Bacque recalls. “I used to bicycle a lot. And one day there’s this new guy who shows up for a ride, and I’m in good shape and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to spank this guy.’ But we never could drop him; he was a good rider.”
Lafayette clothier Frank Camalo, also a friend of Comeaux’s, spearheaded the drive to erect the bike stop, which features a large stone bearing a titanium plaque — Comeaux, as Bacque recalls, was one of the first local cyclists to ride a titanium bike — manufactured by Begnaud Manufacturing and designed by Megan Barra. Virtually everyone involved — some of the most creative, successful people in the area — donated their time and services. Dr. Bradley Chastant donated the roughly 600 square feet of land at the edge of his property for the memorial. The site features the memorial plaque, a bike rack, a trellis and a gate. It’s located on Aubrey Ozenne Road, which, after it crosses Bayou Tortue, bears the name of the waterway. It’s a winding and surprisingly hilly stretch of road atop the Coteau Ridge popular with bicyclists and motorcyclists that ends at the St. Martinville highway.
The plaque, which has a QR code engraved on it that links to the Tommy Comeaux committee website, was placed on the 15th anniversary of his death.
“Tommy and I weren’t best friends,” says Bacque, who has been on the committee for more than a decade. “But I really appreciated who he was, and it was really tragic the way he died.”
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
Fiery style for game day
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage