The St. Bernard Voice turned 124 last weekend

Jan 17th, 2014 | By | Category: Community
Some of The St. Bernard Voice’s staff members gathered for an informal Christmas party last month. Pictured are, standing from left, Publisher Emeritus Edwin Roy Jr., Calling It Home columnist Jimmy Delery, Managing Editor Terri A. Sercovich, Co-Publisher Dale Benoit, and Point of View columnist Ron Chapman; seated, bookkeeper Janie Scarabin, Co-Publisher Norris Babin Jr., graphic designer Brandi Rollo, and office assistant Kirstin Wolinski.

Some of The St. Bernard Voice’s staff members gathered for an informal Christmas party last month. Pictured are, standing from left, Publisher Emeritus Edwin Roy Jr., Calling It Home columnist Jimmy Delery, Managing Editor Terri A. Sercovich, Co-Publisher Dale Benoit, and Point of View columnist Ron Chapman; seated, bookkeeper Janie Scarabin, Co-Publisher Norris Babin Jr., graphic designer Brandi Rollo, and office assistant Kirstin Wolinski.

Saturday, January 11, marked the 124-year anniversary of The St. Bernard Voice’s founding by William F. Roy in 1890 as a one-page paper. The paper remained in the Roy family for three generations until Roy’s grandson, Edwin M. Roy Jr. (known to most as Mr. Roy) sold the business in 2008 to current publishers Norris Babin Jr. and Dale Benoit.

“All three of us tried to serve the people of St. Bernard as best we could,” said Mr. Roy. He said the paper stayed true to the Latin masthead, “Dum vivisus, vivamus, labore et honore” which translates to “let us live, while we are living, by labor and honor.”

The Voice is the oldest business in St. Bernard, beating Domino Sugar by one year.

William F. Roy
During William F. Roy’s tenure as editor, the paper covered such topics as bloody skirmishes among fur-trappers in eastern St. Bernard and the growth of the slaughterhouse business in Arabi.

The eldest Roy was known for his witty April Fools’ gags. One year, he wrote an article about the sudden appearance of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa at Jackson Barracks. Even though the article clearly stated “Happy April Fools’ Day” at the end, the story was picked up by other newspapers and caught the attention of the federal government, who erroneously sent in troops to hunt Villa down.

Mr. Roy still fondly remembers going into the Voice’s office at 234 Mehle Street in Arabi, its home for more than 100 years, when his grandfather ran the paper.

“I can remember coming into the office for Hershey bars and Doublemint gum,” said Mr. Roy.

The eldest Roy served twice as the president of the Louisiana Press Association and edited the paper for 57 years.

Edwin M. Roy Sr.
William F. Roy’s son Edwin M. Roy Sr., who worked at the Voice with his father for several years, took over as editor when his father died in 1947. Edwin Sr. kept his finger on the pulse of the community even as the parish’s population swelled fivefold while he was editor. Like his father, he also had the distinction of serving as president of the Louisiana Press Association.

Edwin M. Roy Jr.
Mr. Roy took over for his father in 1975, and, like his forebears, managed to steer the paper through times of rapid change for St. Bernard Parish. The Voice’s office suffered extensive damage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which led Mr. Roy to sell the paper in 2008. Mr. Roy still serves as the publisher emeritus and works three days each week.

Norris Babin Jr., who along with Dale Benoit purchased the paper from Mr. Roy, is optimistic about the paper’s future.

“I am proud and honored to be part of the newspaper and organization that is The St. Bernard Voice. The paper, started by Mr. Roy’s grandfather, has always stood for what is just and what is ethical, and has strived to get the news to the people of St. Bernard Parish,” said Babin.

“Now beginning our 124th year, we look forward to creating a future that follows our past,” he continued. “With new technology, The St. Bernard Voice can continue to be the viable thread, in print and online, that holds our parish together during good times and in bad.”

Most of the office’s newspaper archives are now brittle from water damage. Luckily, many of the earliest issues were micro-filmed and can now be viewed at the Louisiana State University library.

The Voice owners and staff are eagerly awaiting next year’s 125th anniversary.

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