Charlie Duthu is remembered by many as a musician, proud member of the United Houma Nation tribe, and devoted follower of Jesus Christ. They also say he was generally the best dressed person in the room.
Duthu, from Houma, died on September 5 at the age of 73. He is survived by his wife Patty, his daughters Kelly, Jacintha and Felicia, many grandchildren and great grandchildren and many other family and friends.
Duthu lived his life through four principles: faith, family, country and culture.
Duthu was an artist – as the lead singer of the popular Treater Band, he performed all over the world, playing Cajun, Zydeco, and swamp pop. But he really enjoyed singing for his children and grandchildren.
“I know he’s in heaven singing,” said one of his grandsons, Koen Duthu.
After being healed of cancer seven years ago, Duthu has always said he is living his “extra life”. After his battle with cancer, he dedicated his life to Christ.
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His generosity included purchasing a drum kit for a boy who continued to perform in college to deliver a song of praise he wrote after beating cancer to Christian musician Chris Burns. Burns performed the song at Duthu’s wake on Wednesday at Samart Funeral Home in Gray.
“He prayed for me, put his hands on me and whispered in my ear that I could have some freedom with this song,” Burns recalls. “I think it’s amazing because the sound of Charlie is going to continue long after he leaves this Earth. I just pray that the sound of his life continues to touch people ”
Her daughter Jacintha Duthu said her father had never met a foreigner. She encourages everyone to keep saying her name and telling her story.
“Everyone has a story about my dad,” she said, “and they always say he had a gentle mind and gave the best hugs.”
Duthu’s coffin was made in part from cypress cut from a tree that fell outside his house during Hurricane Ida. It was lined with a Pendleton blanket, adorned with a cross with Native American iconography and draped with a United Houma Nation flag.
His coffin had the image of an eagle engraved on the side, and his daughters say they saw an eagle outside the house on the morning of his death.
Duthu was one of the first Native Americans in the parish of Terrebonne to graduate from high school. He graduated from the Daigleville school in Houma in 1966 at a time of state-imposed racial segregation in the South. At the time, Terrebonne operated a system of public schools that separated campuses in three ways: all white, all black, all Native American.
Duthu was a board member of the United Houma Nation and was a longtime advocate for saving the old all-Native American school of Daigleville.
He told The Courier and The Daily Comet in May about his experiences at school and what he hopes for his future.
“My vision is that this can be a local Native American resource and a center for all the tribal people in the region,” said Duthu, “I am grateful for the attention we have been given to see the struggle.”
During the funeral on Thursday, the leader of the Houma United Nation, August Creppel, ministered and performed a song of prayer and victory in honor of Duthu, saying he was flying high. At the same time, an eagle came and surrounded the participants from above.
Jacintha Duthu said her father couldn’t bear to miss his own funeral.
“It’s all God’s work,” she said, “but my dad had to steal the show.”