In Memoriam: Wes Ardoin « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

In Memoriam: Wes Ardoin

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This image was created in Tanzania in January 2001 as I shared a safari van with Wes and Patti Ardoin. I used the Canon 28-135mm IS zoom lens (hand held at 135mm) with the EOS-10D. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/100 sec. at f/14 in Av Mode. The zebra stallion was mourning the death of his mare. We learned later on that morning that she had died during the birthing process. All of the other vans opted to leave the scene to have breakfast in the field. Wes and Patti agreed to stay with me and photograph until the drama played out. At the time, I was still mourning the death of my wife Elaine Belsky Morris so it was a moving experience for me seeing the stallion so obviously in love and so obviously sad.

In Memoriam: Wes Ardoin

I first met Patti Ardoin at a seminar that I conducted in Baton Rouge, LA probably some time in the mid-1990s. I returned a few years later to Baton Rouge and this time Patti dragged Wes with her to the full day program. Wes stated plainly that he had no interest in wildlife photography. Patti on the other hand was addicted. Well, Wes must have enjoyed the seminar because in short order he had his own 500 IS lens. Over the next few years Wes and Patti traveled with me on many IPTs including the Photo-Safari mentioned above and a great Katmai Bear Boat IPT among others.

The rookery at Lake Martin, LA near the Ardoin’s home in Lafayette used to be a great place to photograph nesting Great Egret, nesting Roseate Spoonbill, Barred Owl, and lots more. After photographing there once on my own I decided to schedule a Lake Martin Spoonbill IPT. I believe that we did two of them. Well, Wes and Patti hosted each event at their home. On the night of the introductory slide program Patti would prepare a huge crawfish etouffee dinner for the group. And that was followed by the slide program. In their living room.

I learned with great sadness today that Wesley H. Ardoin died at home on Monday, November 22, 2010 at age 68. I just got off the phone with Patti. When I said to her, “When I think of Wes I think of the fact that he always had a smile on his face and was quick with a funny story or a joke” she said, “You’re right,” and then started laughing out loud.

Wes and Patti were married for 49 years. They began dating when they were 14 after meeting at the home of Patti’s cousin. They have 5 children, 4 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild on the way. Wes was an orthodontist. I attended several staff parties and can honestly say that the man was loved by each and every one of his employees.

I relish the time that I spent with Wes and Patti. They were as happy a couple as I have ever encountered, always happy, always smiling, always loving what is. And always laughing. Wes and I loved to swap fishing stories. Though I never made it to his fishing camp, I felt as if I knew the place well.

I had such a wonderful relationship with Wes that many years ago I began calling him “Pops.” He will be sorely missed and remembered with love by all who knew him. I love you Pops.

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