Mary Eloise Yerger Wall

Published 10:35 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

Mary Eloise Yerger Wall, always called Eloise, was born July, 17, 1940 to Dorothy Agnes Supple Yerger of Bayou Goula, La., and William Yerger of Mound. Mound has been the smallest village in Louisiana for many years, current population twelve (2020), and is nestled among some of the richest and most productive alluvial soils on the Earth. In Mound, her family farmed cotton and owned and operated stores and a cotton gin, among other enterprises.

Eloise died Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 12:27 p.m. in Baton Rouge. She is survived by her former husband for 40 years, David Weeks Wall Sr.; brother, William Yerger and sister-in-law Susan Yerger; sister, Dorothy Supple Yerger (Tuppie) and partner, Sharon Gouse; her little sister and lifetime friend Jeanne Yerger Schmidt; and brother-in-law, Robert Schmidt; children, Eleanor Weeks Wall, Mary Martha Wall White (Moffie); son-in-law, Ronald White; son, David Junior; granddaughter, Mary Elise Schlesinger Kingsmill and grandson-in-law, Timothy Paul Kingsmill Jr.; granddaughter, Catherine Grace Schlesinger; great granddaughter, Rivers Weeks Kingsmill and great grandson, Timothy Paul Kingsmill III (Tres). Visitation begins at 10 a.m. at Saint Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge Friday, Feb. 23. Religious service begins at noon at Saint Aloysius, and burial will immediately follow at Roselawn Cemetery.

Eloise attended Saint Francis Xavier Catholic School in Vicksburg, and Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. She graduated from high school two years early and went to Louisiana State University at age 16. She said she had wonderful fun at LSU, and loved being there; but, when she visited a friend at Maryville College in St. Louis, they went out to eat with some other students, and “We had a kind of conversation at the table that I wanted to have more of.” The following year, Eloise transferred to Maryville College where Eloise’s mother Dorothy Supple also attended, and Eloise graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Philosophy. Eloise then attended Saint Louis University School of Law, where she was one of two women among four hundred men in law school in 1960, and that is exactly the sort of thing Eloise did.

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David Junior was born in 1963, Mary Martha in 1966, and Eleanor in 1970.

Eloise enjoyed her life, she enjoyed social events, and she enjoyed being at the center. She was interested. “She was not shy;” she was “masterful in her planning,” “keen in her sense of adventure,” “tenacious,” “resourceful,” seldom, if ever, indecisive,” “She was the queen;” and though aware that “queen” has a double meaning often enough, she chose to enjoy the sincere description and the irony of those that spoke of her. Eloise’s hard work, intellectual focus, constant presence, clear rhetorical purpose, and “commitment to decisions once made,” was her affect, the demeanor of her movement through our world, and permitted her to take trips around the globe with her granddaughters and daughters to every continent but Antarctica up to her 80th birthday.

Mama is missed by her family, and this is the short version of her obituary.

It would be difficult to realistically describe Eloise’s life and work without including a description of and the effect of her environmental activism. Activists from the 1980s say that Eloise instituted new methods of approaching environmental legislation in Louisiana.

Starting in the 1980s, Eloise was an early environmental activist in Louisiana. She worked with Citizens for A Clean Environment, with LEAN (Louisiana Environmental Action Network), with CABL (Council for A Better Louisiana), and with other environmental groups in Louisiana until after the Millennium. When Eloise began her efforts to change how Louisiana feels about, thinks about, and regulates waste process stream releases and stored waste, she took a direct and practical approach. Eloise approached environmental activism as a matter of legislative process. She began by examining legislation and the institutional rules of deliberation which create legislation. And so she approached environmental activism as a vocation and in a demeanor and method similar to a lobbyist’s (a paid activist who represents the interest of their employer) or to legislators themselves. In the 1990’s, this method of working at the level of the legislative process resulted in some of the first legislative audits of the application of laws regulating toxic process streams and toxic waste storage in which legislators themselves were involved in and themselves concluded that our laws in Louisiana were not worded in an effective manner or were inadequately applied.

In lieu of flowers, or when you think of Eloise in the future, think of supporting WLPB, Hospice of Baton Rouge, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Council for a better Louisiana (CABL), and come to her visitation and services. She wants you there.

Our deepest gratitude to Suzie Boudinot of Hospice of Baton Rouge, Paulette Steely, Gaylen Flynn.

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