Daughters cling to hope for father missing 22 years

Daughters cling to hope for father missing 22 years

Credit: Abby Tabor / Houma Courier

A.J. Breaux's granddaughter Kadie Tardo (from left) reads a prayer Saturday while daughters Tania Guidry, Monica Larpenter, former wife Lois Arceneaux and daughter Melissa Tardo listen during a celebration for Breaux in Jim Bowie Park. Breaux has been missing since Aug. 28, 1991.

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Posted on February 3, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Jacob Batte / Houma Courier

Mother Teresa once said, "God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that you try."

The quote was a favorite for Adam John Breaux who has been missing for more than 22 years.

One may think Breaux would be proud of his daughters, who have followed those words and never stopped looking for their beloved father even as the search has stretched past two decades.

On Saturday, nearly 100 of Breaux's family members and friends celebrated his life at Jim Bowie Park on Black Drive in Houma, where his car was found the night he became missing.

Breaux's oldest daughter, 48-year-old Melissa Tardo, said the event was also another opportunity to receive some closure.

"Twenty-two years have come and gone, but it still feels like the first year," she said. "We want the public to know, somebody somewhere has to know something, and they've got to come forward. Nobody should have to go through this, nobody."

Tardo said they chose the park because it's the last part of their father they have to hold on to.

"This is the most meaningful place to have it, because it's the last piece of him that we have," she said.

Breaux's three daughters, who organized the rememberance, have called their effort "Project Wish." The daughters, along with their families, wore gray shirts that showed their father's smiling face.

"We never got to have anything for him. We just want to honor him," said Breaux's daughter, Tania Guidry, 46.

Legally declared dead in 1998, Breaux turned 73 on Jan. 14. His daughters originally scheduled the celebration for the Saturday before his birthday, but weather forced them to reschedule. Looking toward the sky, Breaux's youngest daughter Monica Larpenter, 43, told the crowd she believed this was the right day to hold the event because of the perfect weather.

"Thank you God and thank you daddy. If he had anything to do with this ... thank you," Larpenter said.

Family and friends spoke highly of Breaux's character and shared stories of times he had gone out of his way to help them or someone they knew.

"He was a happy person, friendly, always willing to help. He was a joy to be around," Guidry said. "He was always helping other people. You could always count on him for anything."

Lois Arceneaux, Breaux's ex-wife and mother to his daughters, stood by offering support, something she has done for the past 22 years, Larpenter said.

Arceneaux and Breaux had been divorced 17 years when he became missing but remained close friends because of their daughters. His children meant everything to him, and he would never willingly leave them, she said.

"Maybe it's been on somebody's conscious for a long time and maybe they'll come out," she said.

Breaux's disappearance was broadcast to a national audience in 1992 on the show "Unsolved Mysteries." However, like the police's efforts, the episode was unable to bring closure.

Long considered an unsolved homicide by police detectives, the sisters haven't given up.

"We don't have any answers. We don't want people to think the case is closed or anything like that. We want to try and find out what happened. This will keep it fresh in people's mind and hopefully it'll trigue someone's memory," Guidry said.

Breaux, a salesman at the Earl Williams men's clothing store in downtown Houma, vanished Aug. 28, 1991, following an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at the Easy Does It Club on Bernard Street, near the Southern Oaks Country Club.

At the time he was 50 years old and had been sober for eight years.

"He was a great person and very well known in the community," Guidry said.

His daughters are sure their father, who held down the same job for more than three decades and was heavily involved in the community and committed to his family, didn't just up and leave on his own.

"He came home, he worked in his yard, he ate supper ... If you're planning on leaving, why would you work in your garden?" Larpenter said.

She noted he was also in line to receive an award that weekend during a local AA convention.

During the ceremony, Breaux's daughters and grandchildren grabbed bags of balloons and released into the sky, the wind carrying them across Barrow Street toward La. 311. The family had written Breaux's name and the day he became missing on the balloons in hopes they'll reach someone who can help, Larpenter said.

"You don't know where they're going to go. Hopefully they'll turn up something. We just want the world to know that we haven't forgotten."

If you have any information concerning Breaux's whereabout, contact the Houma Police Department at 873-6371.

Staff Writer Jacob Batte can be reached at 448-7635 or jacob.batte@dailycomet.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_batte.
 

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