Every morning when I wake up, I read a poster hanging on my wall of a paper my son wrote for a high school English project. It reads:


"TJ Cantrelle

"Mrs. Manns



"Courage: A Life Saving Trait

"Not everyone in the world has courage. To be courageous one must display bravery and not be afraid to take risks or make changes. Being courageous has gotten me through many hardships I have faced in my lifetime.

"One of these hardships came very early in my life and is still a burden upon me to this very day. When I was in the second grade, my parents got a divorce, and my family was split apart. This was very hard for me to deal with, being only eight years old and unfamiliar with what was going on. Courage is what made me accept the situation. I knew that I could not show that I was worried because I had to be brave in order to help my two younger brothers know that everything was going to be fine. Today I still have to be courageous and not let it affect my schoolwork or my social life. I have to let my brothers see how they have to be brave and display courage in order to not let it affect them.

"Another obstacle in my life that required courage was when I switched schools after my eighth grade year. I switched from the public school system in my hometown to a Catholic school in a city thirty minutes away where I knew absolutely no one. I made this change because my parents wanted me to get the best education I could. It took every ounce of courage I possessed in my body and soul to get me through this drastic change. I left every one of my friends at my old school and attended a place where I was very unhappy and had no friends. I had to be courageous enough to introduce myself to people and attempt to get acquainted with people in order to not be considered an outcast.

"While thinking about how I was going to deal with switching schools, I was struck with another crippling occurrence. One of my childhood friends, whom I had known and grown up with since I was six years old, was killed in a car accident. Even though at the moment of his death we were not on the best of terms, it still took a huge amount of courage for me to cope with his death. I had to be brave and realize that even though he was gone, I had to continue to live my life. I still think about him on a regular basis and wonder what it would be like if he were still here, but I use courage to get me through the fact that I know he is not coming back.

"Being courageous takes a lot of guts. Even though we may not want to do some things or doubt our strength, we must be brave and display our courage to get through these obstacles. I know personally that without courage I would not be where I am today."


About a month after writing that paper, my son died tragically in a car accident. To me, that paper was TJ’s and God’s way of telling me to have courage no matter what life throws at you.

I would like to think that I passed down that trait to my sons. I know that the trait was passed down to me by my father, Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle. As everyone knows, he is being maligned and dragged through the mud these days. Don’t think for a second though that his courage is shaken one bit. In every negative article published lately, he has had “no comment.” That isn’t by accident and it definitely isn’t to hide anything.

I would venture to say that I know this man better than anyone, except maybe my mom, his wife of 54 years this month. He has “no comment” because he has decided to ignore any negativity and get to the job that the people of Lafourche Parish elected him to do.

He has decided to get projects done and spend your tax dollars wisely, just as he has done with his own money his entire life. Sometimes getting things done means you won’t be the most popular or the favorite. Sometimes getting things done means you have to make tough decisions that not everyone understands or likes. My dad has decided to take the high road through all this adversity.

I just wish everyone could know this man the way I do. My dad, Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle, ran for this office many times until he won. He did that because he has the courage to do the right thing and make a difference. I promise you, Lafourche Parish will be better off because of him. Hang in there, Dad! I love you!

Your son and biggest fan,

James “Jimmy” Cantrelle II


James Cantrelle II, son of Lafourche Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle, lives in Raceland.