This month, we say a sad, but grateful, “Farewell” to one of our longest standing contributors and friends. Professor Roy DeVille, well known to anyone who has ever read an issue of Cenla Focus, died November 18th, less than a month after he penned what would be his final Art Focus column. Ever the consummate professional, his work was insightful, prescient and on time, just as it always was. Over more than a decade of writing, Professor DeVille skillfully and masterfully provided insights into such varied arts topics as the Heart of Spain art exhibit, Newcomb pottery, Native American art, pinhole photography, plein aire painting and nearly everything in between. His love for the arts was contagious. Whenever he described trips to significant locations, like his experiences with the “thin places” in Ireland, you could almost feel his excitement for the experience. For serious artists and art historians to those of us who struggle to draw a stick figure, his enthusiasm for the subjects about which he wrote made his work compelling—a must-read in every issue.
Though quite an accomplished artist in his own right, above all else, Professor DeVille was a teacher. His career as an educator spanned five decades. As former curator of the Alexandria Museum of Art, longstanding art professor/gallery director at LSUA and contributing writer, he relished each opportunity to share the knowledge and skills he’d honed over a distinguished life and career with anyone interested in learning. Perhaps the most fitting tributes can be offered by those who knew him well—his colleagues.
“The aspects of Roy DeVille that really made an impression on me included his devotion to teaching and to LSUA,” said Dr. Jerry Sanson, professor in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department at LSUA. “He shared with me his ambition to complete a teaching career of 50 years at LSUA, and even though he did not quite achieve his goal, he came close. He enjoyed his time in the classroom and studio teaching students about the fine intricacies of art and its creation. He was a master of different media, and he wanted his students to learn as much about each of them as they could absorb. Roy visited my office often. I would sometimes get an art history lesson, or we would talk about the Civil War, or growing up in Central Louisiana and the history of the region, my son’s progress toward the rank of Eagle Scout (which Roy already held with additional Bronze and Gold Palms), his connection to the Deville area where I live, and numerous other subjects. Roy knew something—often quite a bit—about each of them and more. I will miss him.”
Dr. Greg Gourmanous noted Professor DeVille’s impact on both his colleagues and his students. “I knew Roy initially as a colleague and then as his Division Head. Even though he knew I was ignorant about art’s contributions to humanity, he inculcated artistic values in me. Through Professor DeVille’s efforts, his students truly captured the magic of art and were transformed in their studies.”
Likewise, Jennifer Smith, an Administrative Assistant at LSUA, remembers fondly the man she considers a co-worker, mentor and friend: “I appreciated his honesty, his openness and his guidance in getting the most out of my photographs. He had a brilliant mind and a keen eye for detail. His standards in class were set high–he had great expectations and requirements of his students–but he would also help those of us who wanted to achieve those standards and meet his expectations. I lost a good friend with his passing. I will miss him greatly.”
To his wife, Dr. Mary DeVille, and his entire family, and on behalf of the entire Central Louisiana community, we offer our deepest sympathy and heartfelt thanks for sharing Roy DeVille with us for these many years. On his experiences in Ireland and its “thin places”, Professor DeVille remarked, “There is a sense that time stops in these places. There is an overwhelming sense of our own smallness in a far vaster spiritual world. And yet, we belong there, knowing that those who have come before us have laid a solid foundation in which we can have a sure and certain hope.” May the peace he experienced in those thin places now be ever his, confident in the knowledge that the foundations he laid for so many here in Central Louisiana are solid and everlasting.