A native of Mississippi, and a resident of New Iberia, Raphael graduated from Cathedral High School in Natchez. He joined the Mississippi Highway Department and later the U.S. Corps of Engineers, working in the Atchafalaya Basin and other areas following the 1927 flood. He married Sereatha Lorenzo (deceased 1952) and they had two children, Morris Jr. and Charles.
In Franklin, he worked in several capacities for the Banner-Tribune including columnist for “Bells of St. Mary” and designer of the Banner-Tribune building. He also worked as an engineer for construction of Cabot Carbon Company in Bayou Sale, which when completed was the largest carbon black company in the world.
Following his wife’s death, he worked in Brazil as chief engineer of a carbon black plant near Santos. There, he met Helen Hofstetter, and they were married in Whittier, California, and moved back to Franklin, and had two children, Rose Anne and John. They also lived in Jeanerette and New Iberia. He continued working as managing editor for the Banner-Tribune, and then in various capacities for J and L Engineering Company, Houston Systems, Unifab and other companies. He has lived in New Iberia since 1964. In addition, he also was an artist and bottle collector.
He had a lifelong fascination with local history and felt a strong desire to continue writing. He told Helen that someone should write a history of the Civil War in Louisiana’s bayou region and she turned to him and said, “Why not you?” His book, “Battle in the Bayou Country,” first published in 1975, was the first of 14 books he wrote, self published and distributed. In this work, he was inspired by many people, including good friends, Virginia Hine, Barbara Kyle, Diane Moore and Will Chapman.
His “Bayou Browsing” column for the Daily Iberian was a gathering of anecdotes and information that extended his reputation throughout the area. Even as he aged and was no longer able to pursue many activities, he continued writing the column through to the time of his passing.
His honors include Second Wind Hall of Fame in New Iberia (1985), honorary citizen of Jeanerette (1971), Lions Club Annual Civic Award, and activity in leadership positions in Rotary Club, Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce boards (Jeanerette, Franklin, New Iberia), Mt. Carmel Parents Club and more.
Morris had a tremendous love of the bayou country and its people. He was very engaged in the life of the community, including its civic organizations, its history, and its natural surroundings. He leaves behind many friends and loved ones.
Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, July 6, at 2 p.m., at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in New Iberia, with Fr. Richard Greene officiating. Interment will follow in Beau Pre Memorial Park Cemetery.
Visitation will begin Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at David Funeral Home-New Iberia from 10 a.m. until service time.
Mr. Raphael is survived by his wife of 53 years, Helen Hofstetter Raphael of New Iberia; sons, John Leonard and wife, Christine, of Westerville, Ohio; Charles Colligan and wife, Lydia, of Quincy; and Morris Raphael Jr. and wife, Angela, of Baton Rouge; daughter, Rose Anne Raphael of Berkeley, California; brother, William Raphael of Madison, Mississippi; sister, Edna Raphael Belle of Mays Landing, New Jersey; grandchildren, Timothy, Thomas, Melanie and Kathleen Raphael and great grandchildren, Brittany Jenkins, Dustin Raphael and Patsy Paige Raphael.
Mr. Raphael was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Raphael and Rose Kairouz Raphael; sister, Helen Colligan; and granddaughter, Ashley Raphael.
Serving as pallbearers will be family and friends, Alfred Ackal, Will Chapman, David Graugnard, Gene Jeffries, Roland Stansbury and Donald Voorhies.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Catholic High School Development Department, 1301 DeLaSalle Dr., New Iberia, La. 70560; Sisters of Mount Carmel, P.O. Box 1160, Lacombe, La. 70445; Bayou Teche Museum, 131 E. Main St., New Iberia, La. 70560.
You may sign register book and express condolences online at www.davidfuneralhome.com.
David Funeral Home, 1101 Trotter St., New Iberia, (337) 369-6336, is in charge of arrangements.