OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY)– Laura Balthazar was revered as a remarkable woman in the St. Landry Parish community. Although Balthazar passed in 2021 due to COVID related complications, her legacy lives on.
Balthazar is remembered as someone who was always willing to help. Many describe her as extraordinary, compassionate, and tenacious. She is remembered as being a born leader with a heart of gold, especially in her position as the First African-American Female Chief Criminal Deputy and Chief Civil Deputy in Louisiana.
In her position, Balthazar oversaw detectives, the narcotics division and the jail. Her only regret in her successful career was losing the election for Sheriff.
“She was the only person who could fire an employee and they would walk out of the room and they were both smiling and laughing and almost hugging one another. She had the ability to let people keep their dignity from being compromised, a phenomenal quality,” says Don Cravins, former State Senator and Opelousas Mayor.
Cravins says what he remembers most about her, was her amazing ability to give and gain respect simultaneously from everyone she encountered in her community, to the deputies under her command and the inmates housed in the parish jail. Balthazar treated inmates with respect, and in turn, inmates respected her position. Cravins described her as a mother tending to her children.
“She was also able to go in the trenches with folk. There’s nothing I’m going to ask you to do that I’m not willing to do myself. That was her philosophy and that’s what made her so great which compliments her legacy probably more than anything I can think of,” Cravins says.