Accomplished Acadia Parish Man Passes Away At Age 81
81-year-old Raymond Aloysius Hensgens of Branch, La. died Tuesday. He was a successful, self-made businessman, who was known for his love of his family, his church, the city of Crowley and baseball.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at St. Michael Catholic Church in Crowley. Entombment will follow in Mowata at the St. Lawrence Mausoleum. The Reverend Louis Richard, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Broussard, will officiate.
Raymond was born July 22, 1932 in Branch, Louisiana.
A member of the Crowley Millers minor league baseball team in 1950 and 1951, Raymond was an up and coming pitcher for the team and was traded to a team in Tampa Bay. However, he didn’t accept the offer. A pretty girl named Kitty had caught his eye. They soon married, and he stepped out of professional baseball and into his career in the rice industry.
Raymond was first employed by the late C. J. Freeland at the American Rice Mill. Here, he learned rice grading and buying. In 1955, he was hired by his mentor, the late A. B. Dore, Jr., at Dore Rice Mill as a rough rice buyer. He remained there for 27 years. While still employed by Dore Rice Mill, Raymond was allowed to sell seed rice and soybean seed out of the warehouse. His business soon grew into Ray’s Seed and Fertilizer. In 1968, Hensgens and Nolan Guillot formed G & H Seed Co., Inc. After three years of successful business, he acquired Nolan’s interest and the business was moved to its present location.
Over the next forty years, Raymond’s, and Kitty’s, hard work paid off as G & H Seed Co., Inc. grew to a leading agricultural service oriented business with locations throughout Southwest Louisiana. He was instrumental in initiating the handling of bulk seed and fertilizer and was the first to offer new and improved seed to area farmers. Raymond also opened Hensgens Grain Elevator, Inc., Hensgens Fertilizer Company, and Quality Equipment to serve local farmers. He worked closely with the Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture to write and implement laws that directly affected farmers. Raymond became an advisor to many people throughout the rice industry. Through it all, his style of doing business never changed.
As busy as he was with his business, Raymond still managed to find time to give back to the community and industry that he loved. He was a member of the Louisiana Seedsmen’s Association, Southern Seedmen’s Association, and the Louisiana Rice Growers’ Association, as well as parish associations. Raymond was a member of St. Michael Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus Council 1318, the St. Michael’s Men’s Choir, the Rotary Club of Crowley, the Crowley Town Club, the Krewe of Town Revelers, and the Crowley Rice Museum. He proudly honored his German heritage every year at Germanfest. An avid supporter of the Notre Dame Pioneers, his cry of “Stand up for the kickoff” is etched in the hearts of all Notre Dame fans.
One final tribute to Raymond and Kitty Hensgens will take place next month. They will be honored by the Community Foundation of Acadiana as this year’s Leaders in Philanthropy for Acadia Parish.
But his crowning achievement was Hensgens Park, the baseball fields built on land donated by Raymond and Kitty. Raymond Hensgens may never have made it to the big league, but his legacy lives on with every child who takes the field, with every at bat, and with every young pitcher who takes the mound.
Raymond is survived by his beloved wife of sixty-two years, the former Catherine “Kitty” Schneider, one daughter, Jennifer Mixon and her husband James of Bunkie; and three sons: Wayne Hensgens and his wife Debbie of Crowley; Michael Hensgens and his fiancée Cathy Bergeaux of Lafayette; and, Mark Hensgens of New Orleans; his sister, Albert Lyons and her husband, Marcy; his brother-in laws Henry Leonards and Ray Schneider and his wife, Pat; and his sister-in-laws Sarah Hensgens and Lula Hensgens. He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Jim Mixon and his wife April of Crowley; Catherine Mixon Schendel and her husband Jarrod of Shreveport; Sam Mixon and his wife Jennifer of Crowley; Emily Hensgens Hudson and her husband Brad of Mobile; Josef Hensgens and his fiancée Juliane Bactad of Baton Rouge; Patrick Hensgens of Crowley; and, Adam Hensgens of Lafayette; and seven great-grandchildren with two more on the way.
Raymond was preceded in death by his parents, Christian Joseph Hensgens and Elizabeth Thevis Hensgens, both of Mowata; one son, Baby Raymond; his brothers, Leonard “Lennie” Hensgens and Lawrence Hensgens; and, his sisters, Germaine Hensgens Schneider and Wilma Hensgens Leonards.
In addition, Raymond leaves behind his extended family at G & H Seed and Quality Equipment.
Special thanks are due to his care-givers, Janelle St. Andre, Pauline Handy, Sharon Mott, Sylvia Monceaux, and Tamara Winbush, as well as Dr. Mulraj Katira.
Pall bearers will be his five grandsons: Jim Mixon, Sam Mixon, Josef Hensgens, Patrick Hensgens and Adam Hensgens; and, two grandsons-in-law, Jarrod Schendel and Brad Hudson. Honorary pall bearers will be Kenneth Goss, Junior Cormier, Bob Odom, Henry Leonards, Marcy Lyons, Ray Schneider, Coach Gerald Dill, Mike Harson, George Guillory, Joseph Darby, David Savoie, Walt Lamey, and Dalfred Alleman.
Arrangements are being handled by Geesey Ferguson Funeral Home in Crowley. Visitation begins Wednesday from 3:30 p.m. until 9:00 pm, and continues Thursday from 9:00 am until the time of services. A rosary will be led by Msgr. Paul Metrejean and Msgr. Keith Derouen on Wednesday evening at 6:30. Following the rosary Sam Mixon will present a short eulogy. A German rosary will also be recited on Thursday at 10:00 am. The family asks in lieu of flowers that memorial contributions be made to any Acadia Parish Catholic School or Church, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Heart Association, or the Alzheimer’s Association.