This evening I plan to go the wake and rosary for Dr. Ardley Hebert. He has been retired for some time and was quite old and very sick. He practiced in my hometown of Abbeville. I knew Dr. Ardley all my life but did not know him very well really. He was once Chief of Staff at Abbeville General Hospital. Abbeville would be a county seat if Louisiana had counties. Instead Louisiana has parishes so Abbeville is the seat of Vermilion Parish. Vermilion Parish is a rural and mostly agrarian parish with a big oil and gas sector and some shipping interests and several small towns and Abbeville is a quaint place and sometimes a fairly prosperous one. Dr. Ardley was the Coroner of Vermilion Parish at one time. He was a political figure in that position.
He was a surgeon but like many of our surgeons he had an office where maybe if you were a best friend of a third cousin’s ex-wife’s gardener between insurance policies he might give you primary care at a minimal charge when he had slow load on his schedule. If you were close friend he might do whatever was needed to keep you from falling apart physicaly and financialy when you were in need.
The Heberts in the broad clannish sense are a prominent local Acadian family. Dr. Hebert enjoyed boating, fishing, drinking and visiting. He could limit all of those things very substantialy when they interfed or might with the practice of medicine. He married and reared his children in the Catholic Church, divorced remarried a young divorced beauty and reared her child as his own. He is being buried from a Catholic funeral but not at a Catholic Church building and then will be buried at a local Catholic Cemetary. We all kind of knew he was a Catholic all his life without discussing it much.
Dr. Hebert was our guy. Was he a good man? I really did not know him well enough to tell. But he was the kind of man who helps keep a civilization going. He could make a goos living and support local businesses. He could give free and cheap help often enough that it was knon and still keep his profits and earnings afloat. He could be his own man and respect religious and local cultural sensibilities. He could ne friendly and make the medical profession and his family name a source of pride and distinction. He helped me once when I was in terrible pain and could not sleep doing some trvial care on his own for next to nothing and I heard of other people he helped like that.
What did Ardley Hebert M.D. think of healthcare reform? I did not know him well enough to know. But I think that his life had something to say to us all about these things and issues we are debating.