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The Louisiana sugar industry loses a leader

Billy Patout IIIWilliam "Billy" Schwing Patout III, 84, peacefully passed away Saturday, August 5th, 2017 surrounded by his loved ones.
He leaves his wife of 46 years, Susan Crawford Patout; his sons William Patout IV, Rivers Patout, and Simeon Patout (Nina) ; his daughters Avrill Patout-Viator (Richard), Catherine Patout Pendergast, Hester Patout Bourdier (Paul), and Anne-Marie Patout Bradford (John); seventeen grandchildren; David Verret, Alysse Nereaux, Marianne, Danelle, Roddy, Anne Ruth, Jackson, and Brooklyn Patout, Hester "Missy", Crawford, George and Susan Bourdier, Judy-Anne, James and Sammy Pendergast, and Mary Beth and John William Bradford; three great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; and many close friends and employees he considered family.
Born in New Iberia and raised in Patoutville, Louisiana, he grew up the oldest son of William S. Patout Jr. and Hester Catherine Bernadas Patout. While growing up on the sugar plantation, he developed an interest and passion for the sugar industry. However, Mr. Patout stepped away from his life in Louisiana to serve in the United States Navy from 1951 to 1955. Upon returning from serving his country as a Navy Midshipmen in the Korean War, Billy's career in the sugar industry began in 1959 when he began working at the Enterprise factory in a desperate effort to rebuild the factory after a devastating fire destroyed it in March of that year. He was only 26 years at the time and stories are told of how he could be seen in every area of the destroyed factory working feverishly to assure that it would be ready to operate in the upcoming harvest season.
After completion of his college career, Billy returned to the Enterprise Factory in 1956 working as an Assistant Engineer through 1959. Always seeking a challenge, he made the decision to leave the family business and move to Hawaii to become a sugar engineer for Brewer and Co. in Honolulu. He made several moves working for different sugar companies always thirsting for experience and knowledge that would ultimately serve him in his return to the family business.
In 1970, after working 2 years in Haiti for Haitian American Sugar, Billy received a letter from the President of the family business (James Patout Burns) to return home to Patoutville to lead the family business, M.A. Patout & Son, LTD., which he did until his retirement in 2001. For 31 years Billy led the company as President, C.E.O. and General Manager through many natural disasters, crop disease, residential intrusion on agricultural land, political concerns and other difficult times. Through it all he maintained his vision of "growth" for the company, believing and often saying, "that when a company stops growing it begins to die." He along with his loyal and dedicated team of employees that he assembled, he moved forward to realize his vision for the company.
Once a small company with limited capacity he grew the business to the largest sugar company in Louisiana, building the largest factory in the state, Enterprise Factory, with a daily capacity in excess of 24,000 tons of sugar cane per 24 hour period. In doing so, and after much research and consideration, he installed the only Cane Diffuser in North America at the Enterprise Factory which was the final install in reaching his ultimate goal that he had set in 1970. Billy led the company to purchase two Louisiana sugar factories, acquiring Sterling Sugars and Raceland Raw Sugar in the 1990's thereby solidly defining the company as a major raw sugar producer in the United States.
During his tenure with the company, he was successful in increasing the land holding acres from 4,000 to in excess of 56,000 always believing that you must be a good steward of the land and respectful of those that farm the land. He often has been mentioned as the person that saved the Louisiana sugar industry.
Billy served the industry he loved in many capacities, being recognized by professional organizations for his service. He was a director and past President of the sugar trade organization in LA, The American Sugar Cane League, whose primary mission is national and state legislative matters and agricultural and manufacturing research. He also served as past President of Western Sugar Producers, Sugar Processors Research Institute and Agro-Flex all promoted the sugar industry. He was presented with the American Sugar Cane League Presidents' Award in 2000 and in 2007 received the prestigious "Sugar Man of The Year" award as presented annually by Dyer Memorial in New York City. He has served as Director and Vice-Chairman of the First National Bank of Jeanerette, leading their recent expansion efforts.
Billy's passions included sugar, sugar, sugar, history, Grand Isle, and mischief; as well as, spending time with his friends and family. He was preceded in death by his close friend and partner in crime, Johnny Martin; as well as, his two parents and numerous aunts and uncles.
Visitation will be held at Pellerin Funeral Home in New Iberia on Tuesday August 8, 2017 from 5:00 to 9:00 in the evening, with eulogies to be delivered at 7:00 pm. Visitation prior to Mass will be held at Pellerin's Funeral Home on Wednesday morning from 8:00 to 9:30. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday August 9, 2017 at 10:00 in the morning at St. Peter's Church in New Iberia. Rev. William C. Blanda will be the Celebrant. Entombment will follow at St. Nicholas Cemetery in Patoutville, with military honors by the Iberia Honor Guard.
Pallbearers will be Wilson LeBlanc, Craig Caillier, Gerald Guiberteau, Clint Freyou, Paul Bourdier, and John Henry Bradford. Honorary Pallbearers are Sean Pendergast, Bernard Boudreaux, Rudy Hebert, Eddie Lamperez, and Donald Pavy. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made either to The Autism Research Institute, 4182 Adams Avenue, San Diego, Ca. 92116 or The Appoline and Simeon Patout Scholarship Foundation, 3512 J. Patout Burns Road, Jeanerette, LA. 70544.
To view on-line obituary, sign guest book, and view video tribute, please go to Pellerin Funeral Home, 502 Jefferson Terrace Blvd, New Iberia, LA 70560, 337.365.3331, is in charge of the arrangements.
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