Beloved Port Arthur statesman Arthur Guidry passed away Tuesday morning at age 93 near his family in Port Arthur.
The former city councilman served the city longer than any other councilman, 33 years, leaving a long legacy of political service in Port Arthur.
A healthy man up until the last few months of his life, Guidry famously told the Port Arthur News in 1987, at age 68, “I don’t ever intend to just sit in a rocking chair,” and according to his family, he didn’t.
“He remained active in the community and his church up until the end,” his only son, Craig Guidry, told The News Tuesday.
Born in Rayne, La., in 1919, Guidry moved to Port Arthur with his mother, father and sister in 1921.
At age 27 Guidry opened his own service station, Sons Service Station, located at 948 W. 16th Street (now Gulfway).
But Guidry’s business prospects soon changed when, just three years later, he met Thomas Henderson, who was working part time at another auto parts store in Port Arthur.
“In talking with him I quickly realized he was a very intelligent man and so I brought him the application for a job at Texaco,” said Henderson. “They hired him within a few weeks.”
Fifty years later the two long-time friends would serve together on the city council during Guidry’s final five years as a councilman.
Guidry worked in the labor department at Texaco for 32 years, setting a milestone for the oil company by becoming the first African-American supervisor at the plant outside of the technical area.
He was elected to the council in 1962 as the fourth black city councilman, serving the city at a time when restaurants and water fountains in Port Arthur were still segregated.
“There was no color barrier for Arthur,” said Henderson. “He would go out of his way to accommodate you no matter what he was doing and once you made friends with him he was your friend for life.”
Known for his even keel and cordial manner in all facets of life, Guidry played a strong role in Port Arthur politics over the three decades he represented the city, including three terms as Mayor Pro tem and overseeing the city’s paving of 60 blocks in West Port Arthur.
Willie “Bae” Lewis, the current Port Arthur Mayor Pro tem, served on the council with Guidry for 18 years.
While the two had philosophical differences, Lewis said, “The people that supported him in the political arena, he served them well. He did the best job he could do during his time. I could not have served under those same conditions.”
Guidry was known for encouraging young African Americans with political aspirations to run for political office, but was also known for his honest support of both white and black political ideas.
“He worked for all mankind and he had friends in all walks of life,” said Guidry’s son.
As a treasurer of the Rock Island Baptist Church, he helped many young families set up and plan their finances in Port Arthur.
“If anyone is going to heaven based on service and good actions, I would pray that brother Guidry will be up in heaven,” said Ransom E. Howard, pastor at Rock Island Baptist Church.
Arrangements for Guidry’s memorial service are currently pending with the Gabriel Funeral Home in Port Arthur.
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