Announces “Dave Thompson Event Barn” at Docville Farm
On Saturday, the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation dedicated the Dave Thompson Event Barn in honor of Mr. Thompson’s 65 years of service to the Meraux family and the community. The emotional ceremony gathered Mr. Thompson, now 83, his wife of 47 years, Rose, and dozens of family and friends for a heartfelt celebration and tribute to the beloved man.
“Dave is a wonderful man, and I am honored to know him and call him my friend. But he’s much more than that, he’s family,” said a teary-eyed Rita Gue, the president of the Meraux Foundation. “Dave, we are so pleased to name this historic building in your honor. May all those who pass through these doors be inspired by your hard work and integrity.”
The Dave Thompson Event Barn is located on Docville Farm, a 130 acre campus in St. Bernard Parish that the Meraux Foundation dedicated to charitable purposes. The 19th century barn’s structure was originally located at the French Market in New Orleans, and it was moved and reconstructed on Docville by Anita Meraux in the late 1940s. Today, the Meraux Foundation hosts many community events in the barn, such as Blues in Da Parish and AgMagic on the River.
“Dave, you are part of our family, part of Docville, and part of this community; and we are dedicating this building in your name as a small gesture of our gratitude and deep affection for you,” said Meraux Foundation Board Member Bill Haines. “You are one of the most influential people I have ever met, and I love you.”
Mr. Thompson began working on Docville when he was 15 years old and remained working for the Meraux family until his retirement in 2012, 65 years later.
“He tended to cattle and the horses, cut grass. He did a little of everything,” said Davie Thompson, Mr. Thompson’s son who worked at Docville during the summers when he was a student. “He was always a hard-working, honest man. He made me know what hard work was about.”
Stories of Mr. Thompson and his work ethic filled every corner the event barn throughout the day.
“Dave has one hell of a handshake!” Meraux Foundation Board Member Floyd Gue remarked in reference to Mr. Thompson’s renowned goliath hands. “It gives me great pleasure to have been able to pay homage to Dave today, to tell him we love him, and to celebrate his life with his relatives and friends.”
“Dave Thompson is one of the strongest men I ever met. He makes me feel weak!” Meraux Foundation Board Member Chris Haines jested. “I remember once I was struggling to lift a hay bail, and Dave came by and picked up two with each hand! I am proud to know him.”
Bill also reminisced fondly on memories of Mr. Thompson, “He taught me everything I know about horses. Dave was the only person who commanded respect from the wild horses we had on the farm. He would go out and run cattle all day long, and I swear his horse would lay down for a week afterwards.”
Stories of Mr. Thompson’s generosity also abounded. Davie recalled how one of his father’s few hobbies outside of work was gardening and how Mr. Thompson would grow far more than his family could eat in order to give fresh produce to his neighbors.
Throughout the day, Mr. Thompson received a seemingly endless line of friends who waited to congratulate him and share warm words.
“We would like to extend special thanks to Billy Fortmeyer for helping us coordinate this ceremony with Dave,” Gue said.
Mr. and Mrs. Thompson have four children, Davie, Carla, Derick, Perry, and Gary, eight grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.
About the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation
The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. Today, the Foundation’s board of directors is presided over by Arlene’s niece, Rita Gue, and members Floyd Gue, Bill Haines, Chris Haines, and Sidney Torres, III. Guided by Arlene’s vision, the Board is implementing an innovative strategy to create lasting change and build a better St. Bernard.
About Docville Farm
Named after Dr. Louis “Doc” Meraux, Docville is a historic property that stretches from the Mississippi River to Lake Borgne. The Meraux Foundation dedicated the 130 acre Docville Farm campus as a center for culture and learning. There, the Foundation hosts numerous educational programs, exhibits, and community events, such as Working on the Water, Blues in Da Parish, and LSU’s AgMagic by the River.
The campus features the Main House, a turn-of-the-century structure resurrected after the hurricanes of 2005, the Dave Thompson Event Barn, and the Arlene Meraux River Observation Center (AMROC), which features numerous community meeting spaces and an observation deck overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River.