Warren Shorty Breaux was my uncle. But he was also a brother, cousin and friend to many. People in the Sulphur Community saw him ride his bike all over town some knowing very little about him other than he had a smile and a wave for everyone. Today I want to share my perspective of who he was.
He was 1of 7 children born to my grandmother. They were a very poor family – He went to work early in his life to help his mom support their family. ( my mom told me that his first job was a shoe shine boy (which if you think about it this was a job with a humbling position), he worked as a dishwasher – they had to get him a stool to stand on – the apron was too long for him., and many other odd jobs throughout his young life.)
He had little more than an 7th grade education but was a hard worker all of his life. He never married – although he almost did once. He was a merchant marine and travelled all over the world working. He didn’t always ride a bike – he had a car and drove. He even had a corvette. He was the best dancer – he taught my mom to jitterbug. When he was home and I was a little girl – I would wait for him to come and pick me up. He would tell me – Let’s go Honky Tonking” – which really meant – let’s go get coffee milk at the Pitt Grill. He never had any children. His nieces and nephews were the closest he had. We all loved him – and it was a big deal when you finally grew taller than Uncle Shorty.
The generosity the community sees in his latter years was always there. He always provided for my grandmother. When my mom married my dad she did not have the money for a wedding dress – Shorty stepped forward and paid for her dress. and I am certain there are many more similar stories within our family of his generosity.
He never wanted to be front and center or boastful about his generosity within the family. He was always kind and giving. After he retired many years ago, He gave up driving and started getting around on a bike. That bike started his legacy of collecting cans and then pull tabs, and the rest was history. He donated thousands of dollars from his pull tabs to the Ronald McDonald House and did many charitable acts in this community.
He had his route that he rode for many years and would stop in and visit all of his friends around town. He had quite the social circle. I heard a similar story of him as a young boy getting on the bus system in Lake Charles riding around making his rounds when he was only 10 or 11 years old. He was social even then- he liked to visit and when I would stop in town when I spotted him and talk to him he would always tell me where he was going, who he was going to visit and of course about his pull tabs!
He lived a simple life but he lived it to the fullest. He took what he had to work with and made a beautiful life filled with people who he touched everyday.
For those in our community and my family – I hope you take away from Shorty – that a life well lived will never include how much status you have, how much money you make or how many things you have accumulated. A life well lived and the legacy Shorty leaves is one of humility, kindness and giving.
There is story in the bible about the Widow’s Offering: Mark 12 verse 41-44 says
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
This is Jesus’s best description of what we have witnessed in Shorty. He had nothing.. Truly owned nothing. But even in his nothingness he found something to give. Max Lucado says No One Can do everything, but EVERYONE can do something! Shorty found his something and did it with passion, love and kindness. And his passion was contagious …..
What a great lesson for future generations and what an amazing legacy left by a little man who had no status or fortune – just a bike, a smile, a handshake, some pulll tabs and a desire to do good! We should all strive to live by what Shorty modeled for us.
I want to personally thank several people for your kindness and generosity to my Uncle throughout the years:
- Joe McMurry – who gave him a place to live for the longest time and was good to him.
- Betty and Mitch Martin for giving of your time and attention for coffee talk when he stopped by
- Jennifer Watts – who gave him her endless friendship – always looked after him and championed him in the community. She went above and beyond for him and we are forever grateful
- Roxanne and Donald Doucet for allowing Shorty to move in to your apartments after the storm and being so kind to him when he needed anything as well as your generosity through these last few days.
- To the community of donors (in name and anonymous), Judy Goodner and the funeral home who covered all of his funeral expenses. We are blown away by your generosity.
- To all the community members who rallied around Shorty and provided him bikes over the years. It kept him connected, doing what he loved, moving around and staying healthy for such a long time. Thank you Thank you Thank you
- John Bridges for highlighting his goodness on TV for all to see and taking your job a step further and extending your friendship to Shorty
- For the City of Sulphur and all of the Mayors that recognized him for the his contributions to our community and beyond, especially Chris Duncan.
- To all his friends and acquaintances that waved, smiled, chatted with him and looked out for him! We thank you.
We will certainly miss his smiling face riding his bike all over this town. But I know he was greeted at the gates of Heaven and heard the words…. Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done.