Lake Area loses two pillars of the community just hours apart

Lake Area loses two pillars of the community just hours apart

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - It’s a loss that hits hard for many in the community and statewide with the passing of former state representative Vic Stelly and less than 15 hours later, his wife Terry.

State senator Ronnie Johns has been a close friend of the Stellys for decades.

The Stellys had recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and Johns says theirs is a great love story.

“What is incredible is 60 years of marriage together, and they left this earth on the same day. I swear they would have scripted that knowing Vic and Terry the way that I know them. It was a true love story between the two of them, and I’m just so proud to have called them my close friends.”

As a State Representative, Vic Stelly is perhaps most famous for what came to be known as the “Stelly Plan”, approved by voters to increase income taxes while decreasing sales taxes.

Retired State Senator Blade Morrish says it was and is visionary.

“People say the ‘Stelly Plan’ is no more, well the ‘Stelly Plan’ still exists. The legislature can bring back those portions of the ‘Stelly Plan’, they can bring them back tomorrow,” Morrish said. “It was visionary then, it is visionary today and it works. That was his greatest accomplishment in my opinion.”

Retired Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach joined the legislature with Stelly. He says the “Stelly Plan” speaks to the kind of person he was.

“He didn’t do it for Vic Stelly. He did it for the state, because he sincerely believed that education needed a stable source of funding, healthcare needed a stable source of funding and the state would benefit from that,” Roach said. “And I think that speaks volumes about the man Vic Stelly. What he did and who he was and how sincere he was about trying to do what was in the best interest of the people and put his heart and soul into it. He was a champion of education.”

He was a champion of education, and after four terms in the legislature he served on the Board of Regents for Higher Education and resigned due to budget cuts.

“Maybe if one person speaks out it may be better than folks just saying, ‘Well, they cut McNeese again. Ho hum, what are we going to have for supper.’ This is serious. McNeese is important to us. LSU is important to us. Higher ed is important to us,” Stelly said.

All will remember Vic and Terry for the kind of people they were. Stelly was a former football coach and school board member before being elected to the legislature. He was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2006.

“He said, ‘You do the right thing and you will have success in this process. Do not become an obstructionist.” And he said, “Build coalitions and work together with people, respect other people’s opinions and do the right thing’,” Johns said.

“His representation of the people who sent him to baton rouge and never forgetting who sent him and why he was there and the way he conducted himself, so ethically, so above the people,” Morrish said.

“They are just such good people and to think of this happening is just hard for anybody to grasp. It’s just truly a tragedy, it really is,” Roach said.

Vic and his wife Terry are survived by their three children.

You can find Vic and Terry’s obituary HERE.

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