Rev. Lloyd remembered good hunts on Big Lake

By Jack M. Willis
Journal Correspondent

Even though Rev. Walter Lloyd, a well-known local Baptist minister for years, had been living in the Crossroads area near the community of Nebo in LaSalle Parish since 1972, I had only met him one time at a Jena High School 1953 Class Reunion in 1985. His wife Dixie, with whom I graduated with from JHS, was a very quiet member of several classes I was in for five years. She was taciturn and reserved and would speak only when spoken to, but when the tests papers were handed back to the students after an exam, in any given class we jointly participated in, you could always bet Dixie would be in the top five high scores.

Reverend Walter Lloyd was born on December 29th, 1927, the year of the Great Flood, at Creston, LA in Natchitoches Parish which was situated at a crossroads on Salt Creek. The community was located about eight miles east of Campti, LA, the scene of several intense Civil War skirmishes.

His grandfather Will Gurnee migrated to the area from Michigan in 1912 and settled on 80 acres with Walter's mother being the oldest child named Ora Lena Gurnee Lloyd.

Walter began his formal education at Goldona School which was about 11 miles from his home, but had to drop out of school at age 15 when his father had a stroke and died.

Walter was drafted in February, 1946 and took Basic Training at Fort Eustice, Virginia, and was sent on to Europe in the summer of 1946. His first assignment was with the 29th Reconnsiance Squadron, but they downsized that group and he was sent 26th Infantry Regiment and remained where he remained until discharged honorably in the summer of 1948.

He bounced around a while after his service hitch and this was when to help his mother out, he began drilling water wells and doing any other kind of odd job to turn a dollar. Meanwhile the desire to get his high school diploma caused him to begin attending Acadia Baptist Academy at Richard, Louisiana, just a few miles from Eunice. He then answered the call to evangelize at age 23, and was duly licensed to preach in February of 1951. He entered A.B.A. in 1951, graduated and began attending Louisiana College in Pineville, in 1952.

In the process of training for the ministry one weekend he held services at Crossroads Baptist Church between Nebo and Whitehall, Louisiana where he met Dixie Hudnall, and they were married on September 6th, 1953.

Bro. Lloyd pastored a number of churches around the state until 1972 when he and his wife felt the call to move back to where Dixie was reared in the Cross Roads (Sharptown) community. She landed an excellent position with H.L. Hunt Petroleum Corp. and was a secretary to Jesse Moffett, Jr., the General Superintendent for 23 years.

When they began residing at Cross Roads, Walter took up the vocational skill of carpentering, but continued to occupy various pulpits in Baptist churches in the area when the need arose.

Dixie retired from Hunt Petroleum in 1996 but contracted Parkinson's disease in 2001, and was admitted to the LaSalle Nursing Home in Jena in 2008. Brother Walter still maintains their Cross Roads residence and resides there with their daughter.

One cannot reside as close to Catahoula Lake as the Lloyds did without getting the waterfowl hunting fever. On Walter's first hunt in 1948, he and a group of other hunters were camped out close to Indian Bluff and he said he was rudely awakened about 10 o'clock that night with a full moon beaming down. He said what woke him up was what sounded like a small war in the vicinity of Mosquito Bend. That was his first impression of the "Big Lake", and the second was that every road and trail on the north side of the lake the next morning had at least one Federal Game Warden stationed on it checking bag limits on hunters exiting the lake.

When asked what changes he had noticed about the Lake proper in the last 65 years he shook his head and said, "Now they can put water on the lake anytime the wildlife agencies see fit. There used to be natural cultivation of the native chufa nuts by literally hundreds of head of hogs, and a skinny duck could get butterball fat in a week feeding on the nuts the hogs missed."

Now he said, "The hog (stock) law was passed outlawing the natural duck feed cultivators, the air boats and shallow water outboard motors and 4-Wheelers have served to rob the big lake of its status of being the finest waterfowl haven in Northern Hemisphere."