Theresa Mae Bell was born Jan. 12, 1930 in Devers, one of 13 children of Bertrand and Lydia Bell. She married Frank Fontenot on Feb. 15, 1947 and their union was blessed with five children: Frank A. “Tony,” Josylin, Todd, Ricky and Frankie. She passed away on, Wednesday, Nov. 27, after a lengthy illness, in Raywood at the age of 89.
Affectionately known as “Chook,” Theresa lived in Raywood her whole life. She owned and managed Frank’s Drive-Inn, the convenience store and deli across from the old Woodson School, for 39 years. Her famous homemade sausage, cheese and boudin drew customers from hours and states away.
Throughout her life, Theresa was a woman of deep faith and a pillar of faith in her community. It saw her through the tragic loss of her husband, Frank, and daughter, Josylin, on April 1, 1966. Theresa was a lifelong member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where she was a devoted prayer warrior, a strong financial supporter and was admired for her ability to corner sponsors for cake sales during the annual bazaars. She attended daily mass until she became homebound and never has gone a day without saying her rosary multiple times.
For those who knew her, Theresa was larger than life. She was beautiful, boisterous and always spoke her mind. She loved a good party, especially zydeco dances, and no party was complete until you could hear Chook’s joyful and contagious laughter or spot her signature hat and red lipstick from across the room. Her insulated cup followed her everywhere as well as the laughter and fun she created and never refrained from offering you a sip! She was an excellent cook and took great pride in preparing meals for her family. In her later years, Theresa enjoyed relaxing on her porch swing and taking Sunday drives to tour the area visiting family and friends and looking for water leaks so she could call Raywood Water Supply and tell them to get ’em fixed, we’re losing water!
Theresa was preceded in death by her parents, Bertrand and Lydia Bell; husband, Frank Fontenot Sr.; daughter, Josylin Fontenot; five brothers, Albert Bell, Nelson Bell, Hebert Bell, Lester Bell and Johnny Bell; seven sisters, Grace Bell, Lula Carrier, Hazel Richard, Emily Metoyer, Wilda LeBlanc, Mary Jane Bryant and Ruby Nell Gradney.
She is survived by her children, Tony Fontenot (Bev), Todd Fontenot (Allyson), Frankie Espree (Joe) of Raywood, Ricky Fontenot (Marva) of Stafford, and adopted-in-love daughter, Norma Arceneaux. Theresa is also survived by grandchildren Tolorie LeDuc (Charles), Jole’ Dickerson (Tracy), Jenene Almonte (Casey), Cory Fontenot, Celia Williams (Josh), Justin Fontenot, Tisha Appline, Omar Willis Sr (Rose), Cord Espree and Colby Espree; great-grandchildren Tré and Lauralyn Dickerson, Samantha and Matthew Williams, Noah and Kieran Almonte, Omar Willis Jr., Keanu Willis, Nissa DeMarco, Jamal Willis, Bryea Kiett and Charles Kiett; great-great-grandchildren Gieselle Willis, Omar Willis III, Dominic DeMarco, Tristain Kiett and Aziyah Green.
Theresa was a wonderful mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, great and great-great-grandmother and friend, and to her nieces and nephews was affectionately known as Aunt Chook.
A visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 6, at Wells Funeral Services (Althea P. Gibson Memorial Chapel), 300 Alabama Street in Liberty, from 1 to 5 p.m. Ms. Metoyer will lie-in-state Saturday, Dec. 7, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 3730 FM 160 N., Raywood from 9-11 a.m. Rosary starts at 10 a.m. Mass will follow 11 a.m. Interment will be at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Cemetery in Raywood.