James Arlen Fontenot, of Orange, passed away peacefully the evening of Friday, April 29, in Round Rock, to the sound of his favorite Hank Williams song, “Fun on the Bayou.” He was a loving and devoted husband, adoring father, grandfather, great grandfather and intense lover of life.
James was born in Washington, La., Oct. 17, 1934 to the late Raul Simon “RS” Fontenot and Ada Brignac Fontenot. He was the third and youngest of their children. RS and Ada moved James, his brother Ray and sister Wilana, “Willie,” to Orange in 1940 where James attended St. Mary’s Catholic School. James and the love of his life, Janet, were married in August of 1955. James and Janet were the proud parents of three children, Rhonda, Richard and April.
James was a hard worker and stayed active throughout all of his life. He served in the Texas National Guard, owned The Shoe Castle, a local Orange business, with his wife Janet and was an employee at the DuPont Sabine River Works Plant for 33 years. James often gave selflessly and tirelessly to individuals in need and to local community organizations such as being the driving force behind what has now become the City of Orange boat ramp.
James was known for his enthusiasm for life and love of celebrations. He often quoted the French saying “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” or “Let the good times roll!” James loved dancing, cooking and spending time with family and friends. Never meeting a stranger, he introduced himself as, “James ‘Crocodile’ Fontenot, from Washington, Louisiana!” Always, with a big smile.
Upon retirement, James and Janet traveled the world together. The two enjoyed experiencing the cultures of each place they visited. James loved to share their adventures through photos and stories. He always encouraged fellow travelers to take the “scenic route” and enjoy the view.
When they were not traveling, James and Janet enjoyed tending to their garden which was filled with beautiful flowers, delicious vegetables, herbs and teeming with wildlife. James enjoyed sharing his garden with guests who were invited to visit on the back porch.
James truly cherished his relationships with his friends and family and he made a concerted effort to keep his loved ones connected. James enjoyed sharing photos and sending news of family updates through phone calls, emails, Facebook and Facetime.
James was a supportive presence for his children, grandchildren and great grandchild with his calm demeanor and listening ear. James’ zest for life will truly be missed and carried on in his family’s hearts.
James is survived by his wife, Janet Crew; daughter, Rhonda Hohmann and her husband, Rusty; son, Richard Fontenot and his fiancé, Rose Smith; daughter, April Carroll and her wife, Lee; grandchildren, Gerald Riedmueller, Jr. and his wife, Amber; Warren Riedmueller; Leslie Edwards and her husband, Joseph; Haley Peck and her fiancé, Derek Law; Elissa Fontenot; Taylor Yarbrough and great grandchild, Noah Peck.
In celebration of James’ life, a visitation service will be held Tuesday, May 3, at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. A funeral Mass of Christian burial will be held Wednesday, May 4, at 1:00 p.m., at St. Mary Church with burial at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery. A gathering of friends and family will be held at St. Mary Parish Hall after the burial.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Mary School Foundation at 912 W. Cherry St., Orange, Tx., 77630.