New Orleans Opera mourns the passing of our dear friend, long-time supporter, and past Mastersigner Co-Chair Louise Martin, who died at home in New Orleans on November 11, 2018, after a lengthy illness.
Jerrye Louise Baehr Martin (Louise), born April 3, 1947, was the youngest daughter of the late Marie Louise Cressend and Jerome Baehr. She is survived by: her husband of 48 years, Edward Fontaine (Ted) Martin; their five children, Marie Louise (Ouida) Laudumiey (husband Ferdie), Elizabeth Richards (husband Peter), Alice Allen (husband Nathan), Anna Denton (husband Russ), and Edward (Teddy) Jerome (wife Gabriella); their 12 grandchildren: Lillie Richards, Sophie Richards, Mark Richards, Henry Richards, Ferdie Laudumiey, Olivia Laudumiey, Thomas Allen, James Allen, Emily Allen, Cora Denton, Jack Denton and Hattie Denton; and her sisters, Brenda Fuselier and Anne Bell. Louise was a “lifer” at Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, graduating in 1964. She went on to graduate from Smith College in 1968 and later earned a Master’s degree in History from Tulane University. Married at 23, and blessed with 5 children born over the next 18 years, Louise found the time to have a remarkable career buying and restoring old buildings, often with the help of Camille Strachan, and using the valuable advice of the late Henry Krotzer, architect. Her efforts to improve the city went beyond private restorations. She was instrumental in saving from demolition the old McDonogh school building at Camp and General Pershing streets, now the main home of St. George’s School. She led the effort to install in Sophie Wright Place a monumental sculpture of Sophie by Enrique Alferez. With Harry McCall’s important assistance, Louise accomplished the installation of a new Roman Catholic chapel in the Garden District a project that required raising the money, locating a building to use, having it taken down and rebuilt, and finding the right place for it on Jackson Avenue. She also founded Felicity Street Redevelopment Project, a non-profit designed to encourage repopulation of the Lower St. Charles Avenue corridor by acquiring neglected buildings, stabilizing them, and finding occupant-owners for them. During Louise’s time as its leader, Felicity effected the rehabilitation of over 60 dwelling units, and that area is now thriving. Louise also served on the boards of the Christian Woman’s Exchange and the Garden District Association, and as a lector at her church. In honor of her accomplishments, Louise received the Terry-Parkerson Award from the Garden District Association, “for her decades of work as a preservationist and community activist”, and the Harnett T. Kane Preservation Award from Louisiana Landmarks Society. Louise also spent many joyful summers in Vermont with her husband and children and grandchildren. One of her greatest pleasures was sitting on the porch of their restored farm house, visiting with family, and enjoying her beautiful garden.
Although taken from us too soon, Louise will be fondly remembered for her devotion to her family, her church and her city, for her intellectual curiosity, and for her complete integrity. Funeral services will take place Tuesday November 20 at 11 o’clock at St. Mary’s Assumption Church, 2030 Constance Street, preceded by visitation starting at 9. Burial will follow at St. Louis Cemetery #3.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift in memory of Louise to the New Orleans Opera Association or a charity of your choice. The family invites you to share your thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online at
Courtesy of The New Orleans Advocate
[Rev. Hill Carter Riddle
New Orleans Opera mourns the passing of our dear friend, past Board Member, and long-time supporter, Rev. Hill Carter Riddle, who died peacefully among family at his New Orleans home on July 29. An Episcopal priest for 54 years, the Rev. Riddle was born in Danville, Va., June 29, 1936 and was educated in the Danville public schools. He received a BA degree from the University of Virginia and a MST from the Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary. In 1991 he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree from the same seminary. Between college and seminary, he served three years as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. The Rev. Riddle was ordained in 1964 and served three parishes in Virginia: St. John’s in Hampton, St. James the Less in Ashland, and Christ Church, Roanoke. He moved to New Orleans in 1984 to become rector of Trinity Episcopal church, where he remained until his retirement in 2003. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Seminary, the Board of Regents at the University of the South, and the boards of the Episcopal Media Center and St. Martin’s Episcopal School. He also served on the Board of Governors of Tulane Medical Center and the New Orleans Opera. He was a co-founder of Southwestern Virginia Opera Company. He was active in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, serving twice as President of the Standing Committee. He also served as deputy to five General Conventions of the church. During his tenure at Trinity the church property doubled in size, the Trinity Counseling and Training Center was inaugurated, the Trinity Artist Series was established and yearly medical missions to Nicaragua and Honduras were established. He pushed the long legacy of Trinity’s involvement in community missions. He believed that the biggest challenge for the church in New Orleans was in race relations and was constantly involved in such organizations as Jeremiah, the St. Thomas Irish Channel Consortium and the People’s Institute. Under his leadership Trinity’s Undoing Racism Network was established. After his retirement he served as interim rector at three New Orleans area churches: Holy Comforter, St. Paul’s, and St. Augustine. In addition he was interim rector for a year at St. Michael and All Angels in Dallas. The Rev. Riddle is survived by his wife of 56 years, Macon, by two sons, Hill Jr., and Clement (with Charlotte) of Hendersonville, N.C., a daughter, Elizabeth Hoover (with David), of Alexandria, Va., a brother, Charles, of Norfolk, Va., and four grandchildren: Rutledge, Amelia, Caroline and Madeline. A funeral service will be conducted Saturday at 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1329 Jackson Avenue. A reception/visitation will follow. Interment will be private.
Donations in memory of the Rev. Riddle may be made to Trinity Episcopal Church; the Hill Riddle Scholarship Fund at Trinity Episcopal School, the Lighthouse for the Blind or the New Orleans Opera Association.

Jerry Zachary

Jerry Zachary passed away suddenly on February 6, 2018, at the age of 72, leaving behind his lifetime partner of 27 years, Henry Bernstein. Jerry and Henry met in 1990 on the outdoor volley ball court in Cabrini Park in the French Quarter and were inseparable for the next twenty-seven years. Born in Homer, Louisiana, in Northern Louisiana, Jerry obtained a music degree from Louisiana Tech and a Masters Degree in media from Louisiana State University. Following his formal education, Jerry moved to Chicago and worked for Harris Bank and also became a professional singer with the Chicago Symphony Chorus. He subsequently became Assistant Choral Director to the legendary Margaret Hillis. Jerry had the pleasure of participating in concert performances at Carnegie Hall, as well as being an integral member of a Grammy Award winning chorus. In 1980, Jerry moved to New Orleans, and instantly became a very active member of the French Quarter community. He was a member of Patio Planters, and he and Henry enjoyed opening their French Quarter backyard garden – in which Jerry worked so diligently and took such pride – to tours of French Quarter gardens. And he was an active member, and former board member, of Vieux Carre Property Owners and Associates. However, Jerry’s main passion always has been music. After moving to New Orleans, Jerry continued with his choral performances and was a long time choral member in the New Orleans Symphony Chorus, and was one of the early singers in the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale. Jerry also was a devoted follower of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the New Orleans Opera, and served as a member of the Opera’s Board of Advisors. And for many years, Jerry diligently attended as many musical events in New Orleans as possible – all in an effort to be an outstanding, informed, and objective judge for the annual Gambit Awards in classical music. An avid theater goer, Jerry also performed in various local theater productions in New Orleans – his most memorable role being the part of Judge Turpin in Le Petit Theatre’s production of Sweeney Todd.. Although Jerry enjoyed performing himself, he equally enjoyed conducting other musicians. For many years, Jerry was the conductor of the student chorus at Our Lady of Holy Cross College. And he also served as choral conductor of the New Orleans Chapter of the Sweet Adelines. However, Jerry’s main source of pride was his founding of the New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus (his “baby”) and for which he served as choral director for a number of years. He also was a volunteer in many local organizations including the NO/Aids Task Force, from which he received its Volunteer Service Award. Jerry is also survived by his brothers John Zachary and his wife Jo Anne of Benton Arkansas, James Zachary and G. W. Zachary and his wife Betty, all of Homer, Louisiana. A memorial service will be held Friday, February 16, 2018 at 10:00 AM at Temple Sinai, 6227 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, with a visitation beginning at 9:00 AM. Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn and Cantor Joel Colman will officiate. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to the New Orleans Opera Association, 935 Gravier St., Suite 1940, New Orleans 70112, or the charity of your choice. Condolences may be expressed online at

Col. Joseph John Darlak II, M.D.,

 Retired, passed away peacefully on October 16, 2017. Dr. Darlak was born in North Tonawanda, New York on March 18, 1931. He graduated from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine in 1956 after receiving a degree in Chemistry from the School of Arts and Sciences. He interned at Boston City Hospital and trained in Diagnostic Radiology at Madigan General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He served his residency at Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado. In 1975, Dr. Darlak received a fellowship in Special Procedures while attending the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC, where he also served as Associate Clinical Professor of Radiology at Georgetown University Hospital.
Dr. Darlak served in the US Army Medical Corps for 22 years and was stationed abroad in Germany, Lebanon, and Japan. While overseas in Japan, Dr. Darlak served as Chief Consultant in Radiology to the Commanding General and to the Army Medical Command where he was instrumental in building a thousand-bed hospital for Vietnam casualties. He also served as the Chief consultant in Radiology to the Commanding General and Army Medical Command Europe while he was stationed in Germany. Dr. Darlak received the Army Commendation Medal twice, the US Forces Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Medal twice and the Meritorious Service award.
In 1979, after retiring from the military and his post as Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, DC, Dr. Darlak was appointed Associate Professor of Radiology at LSU Medical Center and Chairman of Angiography and Special Procedures at Charity Hospital. He subsequently practiced on the staffs of Jo Ellen Smith Hebert Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Meadowcrest Hospital and Tulane School of Medicine. Dr. Darlak held offices including the President of the New Orleans Radiology Society and Chairman of the Board; Chairman of the Federal Sub-Committee Data Compression and Film Storage on Optic Laser Disc, Department of the Army Readiness Command and Chairman of the Federal Subcommittee, Allocation and Justifications of Cardiovascular Laboratories in Military and VA Hospitals.
Upon retirement from LSU and Charity Hospital, Dr. Darlak obtained additional medical licenses in Alaska, Arkansas, The Bahamas, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia and practiced as a locum tenens Radiologist while traveling the country.
Dr. Darlak was an accomplished world traveler who shared his zest for adventure with his family on many exciting trips around the globe. One of his greatest personal accomplishments was visiting and skiing all seven continents. He also was an avid golfer and tennis player. He was a member of the Military Order of Foreign Wars of the US, Louisiana Commandery, the Round Table Club, the New Orleans Opera Club, the Aesculapians, among other social organizations.
He is survived by his daughters, Laurie A. Keese of Poolesville, MD,  Mrs. Jean-Pierre Charlebois (Jeanne), sons, Joseph J. Darlak III of Dallas, TX and Jeffrey E. Darlak; six grandchildren, Madelyn, Katelyn and Mackenzie Keese, Jake and Ella Darlak and Simone Charlebois; brother, John, Eugene, Thaddeus and Dr. Robert Darlak and sister Delores Koszelak.  He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 44 years, Gloria Jean Ross Darlak.
Micaela “Kell” Kelly Bennett, the beloved wife of Dorian M. Bennett and adoring mother of Delia Caroline Bennett, passed away in her New Orleans home surrounded by loved ones on Wednesday, August 9th following a strong and inspiring fight against a rare cancer. Kell was known by many as a creative businesswoman, artist, philanthropist, Francophile, chef, golfer and ‘hostess with the most-est’. Born and raised in New Orleans, she attended The Academy of the Sacred Heart and later LSU, Baton Rouge. Kell went on to spend her twenties and thirties living in Stuttgart, Germany and Paris, France. While in Germany, she participated in an equestrian club that included members of the Porsche and Jagermeister families. During her time in Paris, she opened Kell’s Corner, a unique needlepoint store in the 7th Arrondissement which was the first American-inspired needlepoint store of its kind in France. Kell’s Corner gained renown for Kell’s gorgeous hand-painted canvases and wide selection of colorful threads. Her clientele included Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Capucine, Hubert de Givenchy, and many more eclectic Parisians whom she remained friends with over the years. In 1986, Kell moved back to New Orleans and in 1988 married local real estate broker Dorian Bennett and gave birth to their only child, Delia Caroline Bennett, in 1991. For years she devoted her life to supporting her husband in his business and their daughter as she grew into a young woman. Immediately following Katrina, the Bennett’s moved temporarily to Baton Rouge, where Kell spread her joy further. She made friends wherever she went. As an ’empty-nester’, Kell returned to the retail sector and opened The White Camellia Garden & Gifts on Magazine Street, where she became known for her gourmet olive oils, mustards and spreads that she greeted customers with when they entered her shop. Her kindness, humor, and joyful personality left a lasting mark on all who were lucky enough to know her. She is predeceased in death by her parents, Eloise and William F. Kelly and survived by her husband of 29 years, Dorian M. Bennett; daughter, Delia Caroline Bennett; sisters, Carmen Kelly Vendenabeele; Pamela Kelly Sills; Beth Kelly Cook; Amélie Kelly; brother, Allen Kelly; and numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held at 11 am and funeral services at 1 pm on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 1025 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans,LA. Honorary pallbearers include Jamie Bernstein; Glade Bilby; Bob Edmundson; Greer Farris; Herbert Halpern; Allen Kelly; Tom Reagan; Jerry St. Pierre; Kelly C. Sills; and Kenneth F. Sills. A private internment service for family and immediate friends will take place at Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, Dorian and Delia request that donations be made in Kell’s honor to either The New Orleans Opera Association or The New Orleans Musician’s Clinic. To view and sign the family guestbook, please visit Hugo Wedemeyer, age 88, resident of Metairie, Louisiana, and the French Quarter, died on Wednesday, August 16, 2017. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he was the son of Carl and Violet Wedemeyer. He attended Fortier High School in New Orleans and Tulane University. He was preceded in death by his wife of 39 years Stella Mongeau Wedemeyer and his daughter Heidi Wedemeyer. Survivors include his four children: Carl Wedemeyer, Eric Wedemeyer, Lisa Rogers, and Kristi Hilgaertner; two daughters-in law: Susan Wedemeyer and Sachiko Wedemeyer; two sons-in-law: Chuck Sears and Matthew Hilgaertner; his sister Barbara Edmunson; and five grandchildren. Also preceding him in death was his second wife Barbara Elliott Wedemeyer, with whom he enjoyed 22 years of marriage. He shared with Barbara her four children and their spouses: Bill Elliott III, Barbara and Dale Higgins, Betsy and Henry Guepet, and Beverly Branch; ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, he embarked on a long and distinguished career in the marine insurance business, retiring from Southern Marine & Aviation Underwriters in 1989. After retirement, he enthusiastically indulged his love of art, music, philosophy, travel, and general good living. He was active in civic and arts organizations including the Historic New Orleans Collection, the New Orleans Opera, and the Mardi Gras Krewe of Sparta, where he served as Duke of the French Quarter. He was a long-time and ardent supporter of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra as donor, board member, and archivist. A loving and much-loved father, grandfather, husband, and friend of many, he will be fondly remembered for his humor, sharp mind, disdain for all things mediocre, and his relentless quest for the perfect Sazerac. A celebration of his life will be held on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. in New Orleans.  In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. To view and sign the guestbook, please visit[/vc_column_text][divider type=”double”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]