Mary Huval Guchereau, 92, died Wednesday morning. But while friends and family members are mourning the loss of a loved one, many in the community will bemoan the fact that a local icon — and part of Lafayette history — is now gone.
At 19, Mary posed as the model for Evangeline Maid Bread. Her picture has adorned millions of packages of the bread, which is as well-known in Lafayette as Community Coffee and Tabasco hot sauce. It is a picture known to most everyone in the area and something for which she will always be remembered.
“If you look at that bread wrapper, you will see how much of an icon she was,” said her niece, Janie Varisco. “Everyone grew up with her. Her picture was everywhere — on signs and cross walks, everywhere.”
Varisco says Guchereau was also known for Lafayette carnival’s Queen Evangeline the Fifth. Until she took ill last year, she never missed a Queen’s luncheon.
“She told us stories of how Mardi Gras was back then,” remembered Varisco. “When she was queen, they pulled her in a horse and buggy. She really had a sharp mind. Until she died, she was the oldest living Queen Evangeline of the Southwest Mardi Gras Association.”
Varisco adds that life for her aunt wasn’t always easy. Guchereau lost her husband in his early 30s and raised her two daughters as a single mom. She had also experienced other tragedies in her life but managed to keep her family together.
“She was tough as a rock,” Varisco said. “She had been through so much. But to us, she was our matriarch and our historian. We are all just so sad today.”
Varisco says Guchereau will be missed even by those who did not know her well. That is thanks to Guchereau’s father, Joe
Huval, who founded Evangeline Maid bakery in 1919. Little did Huval know that when he placed his beautiful 19-year-old daughter’s face on the front of a bread wrapper, he would seal her place in history.