February 19, 1917 – January 21, 2022
Mary Velta Rogers Firmin departed this earthly realm on January 21, 2022, enfolded in the White Wings of Peace that carried her into the Sacred Light of the Heavens. She was born on February 19, 1917, and was just one month shy of her 105th birthday.
She was preceded in death by her husband, former State Senator Lee C. Firmin of Franklin, her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred B. Rogers of Abbeville, her brother, Joseph Carl “J.C.” Rogers of Abbeville, her sisters, Flora Mae Holt, of Houston and Jane Bohrer of Abbeville, and by one son, Richard A. Firmin of Belle Chase, LA.
Survivors include her youngest son John D. Firmin of Franklin, and a stepson, James L. Firmin of Morgan City. Also surviving are her grandchildren: Debra Siravo of Colorado, Richard A Firmin, Jr., of Arlington, Texas, Regina Firmin of Morgan City, Cory Firmin of LaPlace, LA and Candis Romero and Tammy Firmin of New Iberia. Four step grandchildren also survive her: Tanya Firmin of Belle Chase, Paige Mahfouz and Dionne Ball of Georgia, and Ty Firmin of New York. She is also survived by numerous great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
Velta’s formal education began at Mount Carmel Convent in Abbeville. Later she entered the public schools where she remained until she graduated from Abbeville High in June 1935. She has mentioned that, “while at Mt Carmel she was a piano student and her music teacher, a nun, was extremely strict. She liked to use a slender wooden pointer to point out notes. If I didn’t practice my scales well enough to suit her, I would feel the sting of that sharp stick across my fingers. Believe me, I practiced!” From stories heard from some of her former students, it is suspected that she brought some of those lessons forward and included them in her own 4th grade classroom.
She attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now ULL) to pursue a teaching career. She attended both Southwestern and LSU. Her first job as a teacher was on Pecan Island in Vermilion Parish. The only way to get there from Abbeville in those days was by boat – either by motorboat or mailboat – the latter being a very slow boat which took almost all day to get there. She taught on Pecan Island for two years, then was transferred to Gueydan where she taught four more years.
In 1943 Velta resigned her job and came to Franklin where her family had moved from Abbeville some months earlier. She met Lee Firmin shortly thereafter. Lee was a widower with an 18 mo. old child having lost his wife and two small children in a bus-train accident the year before. After a brief courtship, Velta and Lee were married, and in the years that followed, she helped to raise Jim Firmin, Lee’s son who had survived the bus-train accident. In time, Lee and Velta had two sons of their own – Richard and John.
In 1957 when her younger son, John, entered kindergarten, Velta returned to teaching. She taught a total of 34 years in St. Mary Parish schools, serving at E.A Crowell Elem, W.P. Foster Elem, and 6 years at West End Academy, after which she retired. She was an active member of the Franklin Business and Professional Women’s Club, numerous teachers’ organizations, and she was an active member of the Franklin Hospital Auxiliary (Pink Ladies), where she served as president of this group several times. She was also a member of the Republican Women’s Club of Franklin, the Golden Age Club, the Catholic Daughters of Court Assumption, and was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. For several years she was a regular at the Perpetual EucharisticAdoration Chapel at St. John’s Elementary School.
Velta was fiercely independent, private, and still lived alone, albeit under the watchful eyes of her son John who lived next door. She loved semi-classical music and all forms of art, especially oil painting. In her later years she enjoyed reading, solving word puzzles, watching TV, and rooting for her Dallas Cowboys.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, January 26, 2022, at Church of the Assumption in Franklin during an 11:00 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial. Following the Mass she will be laid to rest in the mausoleum in Franklin Cemetery. Father Joel Faulk will be the Celebrant for the Mass and conduct the services. A gathering of family and friends will be held at the church from 9:00 a.m. until Mass time. Those honored to be pallbearers are Richard Firmin Jr., Cory Firmin, Jim Firmin, Austin Firmin, Michael Voison Jr., and Jose Zaeton. Honorary pallbearers are Johnny Firmin and Tyne Firmin.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to the St. Mary Parish Public Library, 206 Iberia Street, Franklin, LA 70538, 337-828-5364.
Family and friends may view the obituary online by visiting www.iberts.com and are encouraged to share their condolences, cherished memories, love, and support for the family.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Ibert’s Mortuary, Inc., 1007 Main Street, Franklin, LA 70538, (337) 828-5426.