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Thread: Louisiana's oldest alumna (Rachel Rose Martin Villien) passes at age 108

  1. #1
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    Research Louisiana's oldest alumna (Rachel Rose Martin Villien) passes at age 108

    Rachel Martin Villien graduated from (SLII) in 1918. Today at 107 years of age she is easily the oldest living alumna of the University of Louisiana and in fact ranks nationally among oldest college grads.

    She was born a year after a vetoed attempt to establish the school, and a year prior to Louisiana's legislature successfully establishing the school that eventually would become the University of Louisiana, in Lafayette Louisiana.

    No college pictures are known to exist, simply because she attended during WWI, and during that period Louisiana's Acadien yearbooks were not printed. However Institute Catalogs continued to be sent out, and in the 1917-18 catalog we can find her maiden name Rachel Martin, along with her area of study, teaching.

    She reached her goal of teacher and did so for 39 years.


  2. #2

    People

    Daily Advertiser
    Saturday, August 23, 1997

    God, clean living and the love of storytelling keep Villien happy

    MAURICE - A week from today, Rachel Martin Villien will hold court here at a party in her honor and share vivid personal memories from ever decade in this century.

    People in their late 70's may be there who remember when Villien taught them in the first grade at Maurice Elementary.

    Not many people live to be 100. Of those who do, fewer still have the kind of lasting wit and total recall at which friends of Villien continue to marvel.

    The centenarian is quick to tell visitors she takes care of herself and her flower beds, handles all her own business and loves to talk to the extent that "sometimes I'm afraid I take advantage of people who are willing to listen to me, but at least I haven't started talking to myself yet. I'm proud of that."

    Although she credits God and clean living, if nonstop chatting somehow prolongs a person's life, then Villien's key to longevity becomes evident as soon as introductions are made.

    "I think my stories are very interesting" she said without a trace of defensiveness at a pre-birthday gathering Friday at the Maurice Flea Market. "They're interesting to me anyway." Listeners stifled smiles, unsuccessfully, behind suddenly interesting pieces of bric-a-brac.

    A native of Carencro, the daughter of Joseph Claude Martin and Alida Marin graduated from Southwestern Louisiana Institute in Lafayette, now USL, in 1918, during a period when college degrees weren't considered important acquisitions for women.

    Friends and family know of no older living graduate of Acadiana's flagship university. She was the oldest of four children and the only one still living, she said.

    "My grandfather, Edgar Martin, was the first superintendent of schools in Lafayette Parish" Villien
    said Friday, "Education was always considered very important in my family, I taught in public schools for 39 years before retiring in 1961."

    She was married to Jacques Villien for 42 years, until his death in 1962. He was the grandson of Maurice Villien, the founder of this gateway village to Vermilion Parish. "Jack" and Rachel had one daughter, Arline, who lives in California with her family.

    Villien said she's looking forward to next weekend, not only because she'll be able to visit with her four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Village Alderman Nason Trahan said Aug. 30 has been proclaimed Rachel Villien day in Maurice. "She taught me in the first grade." Trahan said. "Heck she taught almost everybody in the first grade who's from around here and over 40."

    Villien said she remembers when her father-in-law, Dr. Joseph Villien, used to make house calls with a horse and buggy, "but when I came from Carencro to live in Maurice, I came in a Model-T Ford, we had cars by then."

    She loves to have visitors almost as much as she loves working with her flowers and plants, neighbor Lou Broussard said. Passersby often see "Miss Rachel" down on her hands and knees in her yard, carefully tending her beds.

    "She has one of the prettiest yards in town and she dies a lot of it herself" Broussard said. Visitors of flowers, it doesn't matter, Villien gives them all a full measure of her excited conversation, Broussard said.

    Everyone knows plants and flowers grow better when one takes time to talk to them. Friends of Rachel Villien know very well that people do too.

    1997 Story by Bernard Chaillot
    Vermilion Bureau Editor

    Long-time Maurice resident and soon to be 100 years old, Rachel Martin Villien sits in the doorway of the Maurice Flea Market. Villien is credited with teaching most of the town's children while she was a first-grade teacher. 1997 photo by Arthur D. Lauck

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  3. #3
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    Default

    I was referred to this 2004 picture by Rachel's grandson () who lives in California and frequents raginpagin.com.

    Thanks KimoSC

    pictured

  4. LA State Education Superintendent Cecil Picard
  5. Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel
  6. University of Louisiana grad Rachel Martin Villien
  7. Attached Images Attached Images  

  8. #4
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    Default

    Hey - thanks to all you guys for posting this thread!

    Miss Rachel has always been a proud SLII/SLI/USL/UL grad, and equally proud to be the oldest grad.

    To update from that article (thanks NewsCopy), Miss Rachel continued to live on her own in Maurice until last summer when she suffered a stroke shortly before her 107th birthday. Though she has recovered pretty well, she's slowed down quite a bit and now resides in an assisted living facility in Lafayette. We're hoping she'll be with us to celebrate number 108!

    Thanks again!

    btw, she does have at least a couple of pictures of herself as a student, though I personally don't have copies.


  9. #5

    Default Mrs. Rachel Villien dedication 1949

    Maurice LA Yearbook
    19 BOW WOW 49
    1949
    Dedication

    It is with pleasure that we dedicate this, our second school annual, to Mrs. Rachel Villien. For 25 years Mrs. Villien has carefully guided youngsters' footsteps over the pitfalls strewn along path of knowledge. She has been responsible for the initial progress of so many in their trek along the educational highway. Her devotion to her pupils, her cheerful cooperation with the faculty, and her lovable personality have instilled affection and admiration in our hearts. For these and all the other reasons which have endeared her to everyone of us, the students and faculty of the Maurice High School extend our appreciation to Mrs. Rachel Villien

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Louisiana's oldest alumna passes at 108

    Rachel Rose Martin Villien


    MAURICE - Funeral services will be held at a 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Maurice for Rachel Martin Villien, 108, who passed away Monday, Dec. 12, 2005, at Cornerstone South.

    Interment will take place at St. Alphonsus Cemetery.

    The Rev. O. Joseph Breaux, pastor of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, will be celebrant of the Mass and conduct the funeral services.

    Mrs. Villien, the daughter of the late Joseph C. Martin and the former Alida Martin, was a native of Carencro. She was a member of the Ladies Altar Society of St. Alphonsus Catholic Church.

    Mrs. Villien was the oldest living graduate of the University of Louisiana, formerly Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, and was a retired teacher of Vermilion Parish as she helped to educate several generations of students in the Village of Maurice.

    Survivors include one daughter, Arline Wynne, of Irvine, Calif.; grandchildren, Catherine Wynne, Thomas Wynne and wife, Mary Jo, Margaret Wynne and husband, Karim Fellahi, and James Wynne; and six great-grandchildren.

    She was preceded in death by her parents; and husband, James Cyr Villien.

    Visitation will be observed from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunday and will continue from 8 a.m. Monday until the time of services.

    A rosary will be prayed at 5 p.m. Sunday.

    Personal condolences may be sent to the Villien family at www.delhommefuneralhome.com

    Delhomme Funeral Home, 200 Chief H. Fred Avenue, Maurice, is in charge of all funeral arrangements.

    The source of the story



  11. #7
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    Default Re: Louisiana's oldest alumna passes at 108

    Quote Originally Posted by NewsCopy
    Our condolences to her family, especially our friend Kimo. Wow, 108, that is amazing. It sounds like she had not only a long life, but a happy and productive one as well. God bless her.

  12. #8
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    SLII 1901-1921 Re: Louisiana's oldest alumna passes at 108

    Quote Originally Posted by RaginFan2
    Our condolences to her family, especially our friend Kimo. Wow, 108, that is amazing. It sounds like she had not only a long life, but a happy and productive one as well. God bless her.
    Thanks for the kind words and a big THANK YOU to this forum for posting this information now and previously. One of Rachel's greatest joys was retelling the history of her family and the entire region in general, and this site is a great resource for information about the people and history of UL.

    Yes - 108! She lived a full life and SLII was a big part of it that she was always proud of. She leaves many, many friends from many different generations and I can tell you that we're all having a great time celebrating her life! Thanks again!

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