Emile Lionel Chaillot Jr.
The Dailey Advertiser
CROWLEY - A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Michael's Catholic Church in Crowley, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008, for Emile Lionel Chaillot Jr., 82, a local Crowley businessman and one of the last surviving members of the champion 1950 Crowley Millers professional baseball team, who died peacefully at home at 7:15 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22, 2008, in Crowley. He was surrounded and embraced by family and friends, following a brief illness and a remarkable life.
Chaillot was born Sept. 27, 1925, in Mobile, Ala., and was the only child of Fanny Ella Kruse of Bay Minette, Alabama and Emile Lionel Chaillot Sr., of New Orleans.
Emile asked that memorial donations be made to the Crowley Recreation Department's "scholarship fund" to pay for boys and girls to attend local baseball camps when they could not otherwise afford to go.
Mr. Chaillot served with the United States Army during the Korean Conflict and was a 4th-degree Knight of Columbus. In both capacities, he liked to joke, his main job seemed to be hitting baseballs (with the US Army's recruiting team out of Ft. Monmouth, NJ) or softballs (for the champion Crowley KC teams of the 1960s), respectively, over the right-field fence.
Emile was a soft-spoken yet active participant in every community in which he lived. By his own account, he lived a charmed life in many ways, from the time he was very young and extending into his ninth decade.
As a schoolboy in the early 1930s, he was featured in a "Back to School" edition of his hometown paper, The Mobile Press Register, sticking out his tongue while he wrote "I love my teacher" several times on a chalkboard as the first days of school arrived.
He later attended Mobile's Murphy High School, where he lettered all four years in baseball for the Panthers and graduated in 1942.
"But I was not part of the 'in crowd' in high school," he often joked, "and don't recall attending any proms or homecoming dances. Those nights I was probably steppin' on roaches as they ran away from the streetcars passing on Government Street."
After high school, Emile worked for the L&N Railroad as an apprentice & later mechanic first-class while continuing to play baseball in the summers. It was during this time that he was noticed by Brooklyn Dodger second baseman (and Mobile native) Eddie Stanky.
Chaillot was subsequently invited to the Dodgers' Spring Training in Vero Beach, Fla., in 1948 and ended up on the April 5, 1948 cover of LIFE Magazine, along with other Dodger rookies.
The following two years Emile played with various teams in the Dodger organization, including Olean and Schenectady in New York, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Greenville, Mississippi.
In the Spring of 1950, his contract was sold to the Crowley Millers, and he pitched, played first base, and hit home runs for the Acadia Parish team as it won the Gulf Coast League Pennant.
Emile married Crowley beauty Jane Alice "Sis" Bernard in the fall of 1950, and the raising of his eight children and the building of his Crowley business became the center of his life, as he took great joy in his four girls and four boys as they grew up in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.
After a Korean War era stint in the Army from 1951-1953, during which he played for the Army's Fort Monmouth baseball team alongside Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford and other Major Leaguers, Chaillot played baseball for one more summer, splitting his time between teams in Dublin, Georgia and New Iberia. (Evangeline League).
After a semester studying electronics, Chaillot went into the television and radio sales and repair business in Crowley in the Spring of 1954, apprenticing himself to his wife's Uncle Mose Bernard. Emile established Chaillot Television Service the next year, setting up shop on the side of Hamic's Service Station at 9th & Parkerson. He would change locations several times over the next 40 years (on 2nd St. next to Signorelli's Grocery, then near the Central Fire Station, and finally on Western Avenue) before retiring in the mid-1990s.
Along the way, he coached the Crowley American Legion baseball team at both the start and end of a 20-year volunteer effort of coaching for the Crowley Recreation Department at all age levels as his eight children grew up.
Chaillot was one of the only coaches who wore a baseball uniform like his charges, and he earned a lifelong devotion from many of his former players, who continued to visit him up to the very end of his life.
Chaillot's other community activities included putting out American flags in downtown Crowley on special "flag holidays" as part of his Kiwanis Club activities. He also served as a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus in Council 1318, for whom he also played first base during the 1960s when the local KCs fielded a championship team.
In his later years, Emile was a volunteer for Hospice of Acadiana and served local law enforcement as a counselor to certain substance abusers in jail.
He especially enjoyed seeing his former teammates while attending the Crowley Miller Reunions each year. This past October, he told several of those gentlemen that he enjoyed this event more than any other during the year.
For fun, Emile loved to watch the ponies run at Evangeline Downs and New Orleans' Fairgrounds, was skilled at cards, pool, and games of all kinds (never letting his children or anyone else win by losing on purpose) and spent much of his time after retirement visiting friends as he made his 'rounds' each morning in his truck.
Although shy by nature, those who got to know Emile were kept grinning as he displayed his legendary sense of humor or uttered wry, sharply-pointed remarks on a wide range of subjects.
He frequently shook his head at his unexpected longevity, as his own father died of a heart attack at age 68, though his mother lived to be 90.
Survivors include his eight children, Suzanne Chaillot Breaux and Jacqueline Chaillot Hanisee of Lafayette, Michelle Chaillot Ortega of Steamboat Springs, Colo., Jane Claire Chaillot Tedeschi of Sydney, Australia, John Chaillot of Los Angeles, and David Chaillot, Bernard Chaillot, and Joseph Chaillot, all of Crowley; his eight grandchildren, Alex Chaillot, Dominick Chaillot, Naomi Chaillot, Simon Hanisee, Sam Breaux, Christopher Paris Chaillot, Madeline Tedeschi and Harry Tedeschi and great grandchildren, Sebastian Chaillot and Myah Chaillot, several blended family children and grandchildren, many cousins, special friends, and all the boys and men he coached and/or helped in one way or the other.
Special thanks to Kenny Villejoin, daughter-in-law Kayla Chaillot and Hospice of Acadiana.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 42 years, Jane Alice "Sis" Bernard Chaillot, his parents and two infant daughters.
Per his wishes, his body was donated to The Louisiana State University Medical School for research.