‘True Mayor of North Sulphur:’ Wilmer Dugas recognized for decades of service

Published 11:00 am Friday, December 16, 2022

At the Monday Sulphur City Council meeting, Council Member Joy Abshire referred to him as the “True Mayor of North Sulphur.” She was talking about Wilmer Dugas who served on the City Council for 20 years. He was at the meeting to be recognized for his dedication and service to his community. Earlier in the week, Mayor Danahay had issued a proclamation at the 85-year-old’s well-attended retirement party, naming it Wilmer Dugas day.

“You’re such a leader as far as the role you played as a mentor, ‘’ said Council Member Melinda Hardy. “On behalf of the city of Sulphur, we, the council, certainly want to extend an additional thank you for all that you’ve done and yet you are still just as vibrant. You deserve numerous recognition. We appreciate you more than words can say.”

“My wife – she is so good-hearted and takes such good care of me – my jobs, everything I have today is because of God and belongs to God,” Dugas said. “One thing I do want to tell y’all is that the City of Sulphur has done so much for me. I enjoyed every bit of it. They never turned their back on me, bad, wrong, good or indifferent.

Dugas could be a bit blunt, like the time he stood up in a council meeting and said, “There’s no Portia Town, no LIttle Chicago and no Picard Town. It’s all Sulphur. But given the opportunity, he said he would do it all over again, and then some, maybe run for mayor or state representative as he was encouraged to do.

Dugas said he got his start in politics by maneuvering the politics of family, land and tenants. His grandmother owned farming land. HIs father managed two cotton gins and two dancehalls.

After high school, Dugas thought about becoming a lawyer and headed to what’s now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but after two years and too many late nights, he joined the ROTC then quit school to get a job.

When he was in his 20s, he was hired by the Vermillion Parish Sheriff’s Department. After serving there, he took the job of Assistant Police Chief for the City of Erath. When he moved to Sulphur he opened a finance office. He spent 30-something years with Shetler Ford. In the 80s, he worked for the Tarvers and Mike Willis. He retired this year from Mike Willis Ford in Sulphur.

“I’m his boss now,” his wife Barbara leaned over to whisper and grinned.

Andrea Beaugh, Mike Willis Ford, has worked with Dugas for only a few years, but that was plenty of time to realize just how influential he has been in the community and the loyalty with which he has served Mike Willis Ford.

“He and his wife might not have any children, but they have left a legacy. They have invested in this community. They’ve touched lives. I am so happy the City Council honored him at their last meeting. He is deserving, an amazing man.”

It was 1986 when he was first elected to city council.

“That’s when the mayor, the street commissioner and the finance director pretty much ran the city,” Dugas said.

The one accomplishment of which he is most proud is getting the City of Sulphur to help low-income seniors with utility bills. “I realize that’s commonplace now, but it wasn’t then.”

“I don’t know of many elected officials in this area that have not been touched by Wilmer Dugas,” Mayor Danahay said. “He’s been a staple of our community for many years and is the longest serving council member I can remember. We owe him a debt of gratitude.”

“I know you’ve probably heard the expression before but it fits. If I would have known I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself,” Dugas said with a chuckle.. “If I can do anything for y’all, just let me know and I’ll do it. Just don’t ask me for money.”