Nell Derise named as Jeanerette's Outstanding Citizen
● Published by Gail Garcia
Nell Derise, Jeanerette’s Outstanding Citizen, grew up like many in a rural community, whose foundation was a strong religious background mixed with a simple way of life.
“I had a happy childhood with lots of friends. We were a Catholic family,” she said. “My grandmother would spend six weeks in the summer and do the cooking and vegetables. I learned to cook from my grandmother instead of my mother. She made the best homemade bread in the world.”
Derise came from a family of four sisters and one brother. Her uncles tended a sugarcane farm while her father ran a country store. Life was good but filled with work and school. Derise began working in the family business at a young age.
“When I was nine he (her father) asked me to add a column of figures. Then he said I was going to work in the store,” she said. “I was always good with numbers. Math was always a great subject. I loved school.”
Loving school was the basis that led Derise to accomplish graduating with a PhD and teaching nutrition courses at various colleges. Her family was not able to afford to send her to college, so Derise used the work ethics she learned early on to apply for scholarships and to keep several small jobs to accomplish her goals.
Derise said she enjoys learning and constantly is seeking to expand her knowledge. Derise loves traveling and experiencing different cultures. She has traveled through every state in the U.S. and all through Europe. She admits that while every experience has been thrilling, it is learning about the Amish community that has been the most fascinating.
“I love the Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. They fascinate me,” she said. “They were very open and friendly but private also.”
When she isn’t traveling, Derise enjoys working in her community and has been active in many committees.
“This is my home,” she said. “I like to keep involved.”
Being selected as Outstanding Citizen was a wonderful honor for her, however a surprising one, Derise said.
“I didn’t believe it at first. I thank God. It had to be His doing. I never felt that I would have gotten it,” she said.
Derise said that she has had a happy life growing up in Jeanerette with every experience being enjoyable. She looks forward to the future with optimism that the city will grow.
“Young people are our future,” she said. “I hope they will work together to improve our community.
Derise will be honored at the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce banquet on February 19 at the Ward Eight Recreation Center. Other achievers to be honored include Mona Stansbury, Outstanding Senior Citizen;Kenneth Kern, Outstanding Public Servant; Erica Chatman Banks, Outstanding Educator; Rosalie Landry, Outstanding Volunteer; Kenneth and Joyce Buller, Outstanding Couple; Louis Lancon, Outstanding Farmer; andTang'Jemeka Londo, Outstanding Student. For information on the event contact Chamber President Peggy Parker at 337-276-5953.