Memorial for those lost at sea nears completion
PORT FOURCHON, La. (AP) — For Cindie Roussel, a six-year journey to memorialize her son is approaching completion.
She lost 27-year-old Blake Terry, of Lockport, to the Gulf of Mexico in a diving incident. He went missing Aug. 13, 2011, and his body was never recovered.
Roussel connected with families of some who died in the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill to build the Our Lady of the Gulf Monument to be located next to Port Fourchon’s Emergency Command Center. The Greater Lafourche Port Commission donated the land.
The memorial is supposed to be installed in September, and a dedication ceremony will be held in the fall, possibly October.
Robert Epstein, who owns the Colorado-based Highstone Studio, designed the monument.
A mermaid will be ascending from the water, bathed in air bubbles and sunlight, and her cloak will include diving fins, an oil rig and sea life. It will have a bronze finish and stand about 16 feet tall from its platform.
“To see her come to life, to see the actual site plan and to know that this is really happening is just amazing to me,” Roussel said. “All the hard work that the Blake Terry Memorial Foundation has done, all the sponsors who have worked so hard in helping us get her built is remarkable. I’m very, very excited to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to see her standing there for everyone. She’s so much a part of my heart. It’s been personal from day one.”
Bricks are being sold at ourladyofthegulf.org for the base of the monument. People can donate bricks in support of the Our Lady of the Gulf Foundation or in memory of someone who worked on or simply enjoyed the water.
The bricks are $150 for one that’s 4-by-8 inches and $300 for one that’s 8-by-8 inches. Those purchased by July 1 will be part of the site setup. After that, new bricks will be placed only during memorial events.
People can also request memorial plates for loved ones lost at sea by filling out a form on the website.
Roussel said the goal is to sell 350 bricks to cover the base. She said she hopes the sale will generate enough money to cover the memorial plates.
Picciola and Associates in Cut Off has been working with Epstein and Ray Baudoin Builders in Raceland to develop a base and site plan for the monument.
Joe Picciola said the monument is a “feel-good” project.
“Cindie’s certainly taking the lead on it, and she’s doing something I think’s going to help the whole community,” he said. “The sculpture’s really beautiful. (Epstein’s) done a tremendous job.”
Baudoin, the project manager, said some of the challenges are raising the statue to its base without damaging it and making sure the monument can withstand strong winds.
He said his daughter and Terry were “like brother and sister.”
“I do a lot of offshore fishing, and Blake just loved, loved boats,” he said. “He would fish with me. He would take care of a lot of things on my boat for me. He was always around.”
Epstein said he hopes the monument captures a spirit of grace and reflection.
“There’s a quiet, receptive feeling, so being in the studio with that is not a bad thing,” he said.
He said his studio often focuses on “water, women and wonder,” so a mermaid was an obvious choice.
“For me, it was, ‘How do I make that something fresh and authentic?’” he said. “It was how to tell the story. There’s so many people that make their living from the Gulf of Mexico, that enjoy the Gulf of Mexico, that work and play and live on the Gulf of Mexico. How do you incorporate that in a way that’s going to resonate with people? ... I hope people enjoy it and find some solace from it. It’s been my honor to work on it.”