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Rosalie "Poddy" Marie Leveque Champeaux

Lake Charles, LA, 1938 - 2020

Rosalie "Poddy" Marie Leveque Champeaux, 82, died peacefully on Saturday, August 22, 2020, surrounded by family. Rosalie, known to all as "Poddy," was born on August 13, 1938 in Lake Charles, La. Poddy graduated high school from St. Charles Academy (now St. Louis Catholic) where she received the coveted "Spirit Award" in 1956. It was there that she met the love of her life, Junius Joseph Champeaux, II, who was attending Landry High School. In high school, Poddy was a four-year letterman in basketball and served as captain of her team. After high school, Poddy trained as a nurse, graduating first in her class from Hotel Dieu School of Nursing and Loyola University in New Orleans. Not surprising to those of us who knew and loved her she was named outstanding graduate from Hotel Dieu.
On July 29, 1961, Poddy and Joe married at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Catholic Church in Lake Charles, where she and Joe raised their three precious children, Renee, Cherise and Annette. Poddy was involved in every aspect of their lives and that of their friends while at the same time volunteering in the Southwest Louisiana Community.
One of the first organizations that Poddy began volunteering with was the Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. She was an active and sustaining member, serving on the executive board and as co-editor of the Junior League's Pirates Pantry Cookbook. The Junior League named her Sustainer of the Year in 1987. Then, in 2007, they honored her with the Della Krause Thielen Volunteer Award.
In 1987, Poddy went back to work and started both the "V.I.P. Advantage" program for people age 50 and over and the Children's Miracle Network at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, one of only 170 hospitals nationwide at that time, and one of four healthcare facilities in Louisiana hand selected by the Osmond Foundation to carry the name "Children's Miracle Network Affiliated Hospital." For the next 25 years, Poddy was dedicated to improving health care for children. Poddy's admiration and love of her "champions" or "miracle children" due to their strength in spirit and faith knew no bounds. She had the great honor of serving as the Grand Marshal of the Character Parade at Walt Disney World, having visited the "Happiest Place On Earth" close to 50 times in her lifetime, both as part of the CMN productions and with her family and friends.
Her community involvement reached into many other areas, including being very involved with the American Cancer Society (ACS) of which she served on the Board of Directors. She was Banner Chairman of ACS in 1982, Program Chairman in 1983, Talent Chairman in 1984 and General Co-Chairman in 1985 for "The Show for Life." In 1997, she was the Honorary Chairman for "The Show for Life" and was honored by the 2002 Dust to Dawn event as a Cancer Survivor. Poddy also served as a board member of the American Heart Association and the Children's Museum, President of the Southwest Louisiana Chapter American Institute of Architects Auxiliary, Advisory Council for the Calcasieu Council on Child Abuse and Elder Abuse, Child Watch Task Force, "Save the Arcade" Task Force, Girls Village Steering Committee, Regina Caeli Center, American Nurses Association, Calcasieu Council on Aging, President of the St. Louis High School Blues and was the "Voice of the Blues" for 10 years.
Poddy also served as a member of the Calcasieu Community Health Council, the Lake Charles Leadership Council, the Senior Network Organization, the Board of the Southwest Partnership on Elderly Issues through the office of the Governor, Board of Councilors at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, Charter and Continuing Member of the Advisory Board for CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Based Health Centers, Board of Southwest Senior Olympics, Gerontological Society of America, Southwest Society on Aging, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, the Louisiana State Senior Membership Program Director's Network, Census 2000 Complete Count Committee, Advisor on the Southwest Louisiana chapter Safe Kids Coalition Council and Planning Committee of Family Road Program sponsored by the Junior League. She also worked with Families Helping Families for their Annual Empowerment Fair and was on the Board of the Better Business Bureau and was appointed to serve on the Region 5 Healthcare Consortium. She was a member the Board of Directors of the Kid Power of Southwest Louisiana and the Leadership Council for Children and Families Action Network.
Poddy was honored on numerous occasions for her work in the community. The Calcasieu Parish Special Olympics recognized her in 1995. She received the Excalibur Award in 1995 and 1996 from the American Cancer Society on behalf of Children's Miracle Network. In 1997, she was named the American Cancer Society's Show for Life Honorary Chairman. In May 1997, Poddy was given the "Community Volunteer Award" by the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Office of Community Services. In August 1998, Poddy was honored by the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc. and presented with the Distinguished Leadership Award for her foresight, compassion and outstanding contributions in the medical and philanthropic communities. In 1999, Poddy was honored by the Arthritis Foundation as a Research Advocate for extraordinary leadership. She served as "Honorary Chairperson" of the 1999 Childwatch Coalition. She served as Grand Parade Marshal for the 1999 Lake Charles Christmas Parade. In 2002 she received the coveted "Champion for Children Award" from the Louisiana Child Abuse Association at their State Convention in Baton Rouge for being a Supporter of Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) since its beginning to the present time. The award stated "As a new organization relying on volunteers, she helped develop relationships in the community to further the mission and eventually lead to PCA Louisiana as it is today. PCA Louisiana hosts the "Kids Are Worth It Luncheon" to honor employees of the Office of Community Services. Poddy was very integral in the success of this event. In 2002 the Downtown Optimist 21st Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament was dedicated in her honor. In January 2002 she was voted "Most Influential Person" for making the biggest difference in the community in 2001 from a poll taken by KPLC-TV. Also, in 2002, the Women's Commission of Southwest Louisiana for outstanding community service presented her the Jack V. Doland Outstanding Citizen Award. KPLC-TV also recognized Poddy as the "Hometown Patriot" in July 2002. In September 2003, the Boy Scouts honored her with the Distinguished Citizen Award. In November 2003, the Kiwanis presented her with the Spirit of Inspiration Award and was named an Honorary Kiwanian. Also in 2003, Poddy was one of eleven named an Outstanding Community Philanthropist by Family and Youth Counseling, and the Lake Charles Ad and Press Club honored her by roasting her as a Lake Area Legend. In 2005, she was appointed to the Louisiana State Women Leaders for the Southwest Region. She was elected to co-chair the Regional Louisiana Women Leaders Conference for Southwest Louisiana. In 2006, she was appointed to serve on the Advisory Board of the Louisiana Wetlands Center, and Chosen as a "Red Beret Artists Celebrity" for the United Way Hurricane Rita Recovery Benefit where she was voted Outstanding Artist by the Citizens of Southwest Louisiana. In November 2007, Poddy was honored by Prevent Child Abuse of Louisiana with the White Knight Award. In 2008, Poddy was honored with being chosen the Presidential Who's Who Among Business and Professional Achievers. Even though Poddy was a board member of 20 nonprofit organizations, received more than 30 community honors and was involved in more than 40 community organizations, she never boasted. Regardless of the number of honors and awards given to her, Poddy's first response was "To God Be the Glory." Her faith in God and in His son, Jesus Christ was thoroughly ingrained in everything she did and was the cornerstone of her life. She had a unique ability to bring people together to work enthusiastically as a team to accomplish great things. Her sense of humor, her leadership style, her quick wit, her energy level, and clear decision making was unmatched. She constantly gave of herself whether it be through a hug, a warm smile or a few words of encouragement.
In her youth, Poddy enjoyed acting and singing in many Lake Charles Little Theater Productions. One of Poddy's great ambitions was to sing for the Pope, which she did in November 1998 with the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Choral. In her many travels, Poddy had the opportunity to sing at the Sydney Opera House, the Mormon Tabernacle Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Grand Ole Opry House. Poddy was a member of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Chorale, Liberty Bells, Lake Charles Messiah Chorus, and the Louisiana Choral Foundation. One of her favorite activities in the arts was being "Mother Ginger" for the Lake Charles Ballet Society's production of the Nutcracker. Poddy served as Mother Ginger for almost 20 years!
Poddy was a founding member of the Krewe of Mystique and was honored to be Queen Anna in 2005 where the theme of the Ball was "You Light up my Life."
Poddy was an active member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, and St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church.
In 2008, Poddy was chosen as "The Times Person of the Year" for Southwest Louisiana. During the interview for the article, Poddy shared the following lyrics to a song that she described as deeply meaningful and relevant to her life. The words she shared were the following:
I believe there
are angels among us
sent to us from
Heaven above.
They come to us in
our darkest moments
to teach us how to live
to show us how to give
to guide us from the light above.
She said, "The words to this song perfectly describes to me the awesome angels I have met and loved throughout my lifetime – my family, friends, and all of the courageous children and their families. The dedicated doctors and nurses, my wonderful CMN staff, associates and volunteers, who have been an integral part of God's journey for me these past 25 years at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital." For those of us who have been blessed to have had Poddy touch our lives, we know that she was the angel sent to us. She will be severely missed by many, including her treasured "Bolivia" friends.
Most of all, Poddy loved her family. Her husband, Joe died on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Never a day went by when she didn't speak of "her Joe" or "Papo" as he was known by his grandchildren. She is now happily reunited with him in heaven. She is survived by their three children, Renee Wood and husband Frank (Lake Charles); Cherise Sale and husband Chris (Metairie, La.); and Annette Cotton and husband Blake (Baton Rouge, La.). Poddy leaves behind six cherished grandchildren, Ashley and Frankie Wood; Simone and Andre Champeaux Sale; and Peggy Marie and Camille Cotton. Poddy is also survived by her sister, Mary Ann Leveque Hooper; nieces and nephews, Robert Hooper, Marcia Trosper and Doug and Angie Hooper. She is also survived by her beloved godchildren, Julie Lambert, Dianne Jourdan Hebert and Alexander Lambert. She is preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Malcolm and Marjorie Schepp Leveque.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to any Children's Miracle Network Hospital; the American Cancer Society; to any children's program at any local school in the Lake Charles area or to a charity of your choice.
Poddy always lived by the motto "Live, Love, & Laugh." Her family and close friends have regularly and will continuously be "Proud To Be Poddy Trained!" Other words of wisdom that will continue to mark her legacy are; "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" and "When you wake each morning, have a smile on your face and form your positive attitude;" and "A hundred years from now it will not matter the size of your bank account, the house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but that you were important in the life of a child." If she were speaking to us today, she would tell us, "Do not mourn my death, but celebrate my life!"
Poddy's family invites the community to celebrate her life at Johnson Funeral Home on Monday, August 24, 2020, from 2-8 p.m., with a rosary at 6 p.m. and a tribute at 6:30 p.m. Due to Covid-19 State mandates, masks and recommended social distancing is required and requested by the family. Please note: the funeral home kitchen is closed, therefore food will not be accepted. A funeral mass will be celebrated for family only on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception followed by a burial service at Consolata Cemetery. Words of comfort to the family may be left at www.johnsonfuneralhome.net.

Published August 25, 2020

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