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In Memory Of Theresa Elloie

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Portrait by Brendon Palmer-Angell
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www.brendonart.com
Theresa Elloie passed away in March from complications of the coronavirus.

As told to Tegan Wendland.

My name is Ceasar Elloie. I'm the brother of Theresa Elloie, who passed away as a result of coronavirus. I also have a brother, Benedict Smith, who also passed within a week of Theresa's passing. So I lost two siblings.

This is somewhat new. Of course, there are many, many people around the world, and just in the United States, who have also lost more than one sibling in this pandemic, but it's still rough.

I find myself trying to stay busy. I've started a garden, I mean, just whatever I can do to stay busy. Greens, snap beans — just things to keep me from sitting down and grieving. Because Theresa was my baby sister. We kind of favored her.

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Credit Ceasar Elloie
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Four-year-old Theresa in dance school.

We started out in Jefferson Parish in a place called Shrewsbury. Later we moved to New Orleans, to the Bayou St. John area, and we went to like St. Peter Claver School. We were always busy. I was playing clarinet. My brother was playing guitar. The other brother was on the football team.

Theresa was the spoiled queen. Theresa was going to dance school, tap dancing. We'd go to pick her up from dances. Sometimes she wasn't always quite finished. They were doing this dance routine to the song "Oh You Beautiful Doll." I would go in to get her. They were learning this shuffle, and I learned to do it before she did. When we got home I would teach her how to do it. That's something I'll probably never forget.

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Credit Theresa Elloie's Facebook
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Theresa Elloie's Facebook
Theresa operated the uptown bar, Sportsman's Corner, a traditional meeting place for Mardi Gras Indians. She also had many side jobs, like driving Uber and making elaborate ribbon and balloon arrangements.

Theresa has two sons, Steven and Leon. And she has about 13 grandchildren. She's always attending this one's graduation — in fact, during graduation season she was doing two a day sometimes. I don't know how those children are going to take their grandma not being here. If little Steven wanted to play the drums, she bought him a drum, if Leon wanted to play the trumpet, she bought him a trumpet. She had a bond with her grandchildren. I think they are going to really miss her.

When Theresa entered the room — she was a really well-loved person and she associated with quite a few of the social aid and pleasure clubs around town. They knew her because she was likely one of the people that did balloon arrangements, corsages for them, artwork that they wanted, outfits. She knew them all. She'd walk into a room and they'd say, "Hey Miss T, hey Miss T!" They called her "Miss T."

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Credit Provided by Ceasar Elloie
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Theresa and her mother on Christmas Day, 1964.

Theresa was a little busy body. She even drove an Uber. I suspect that that's where she got the coronvirus from. That's just my suspicion. Transportation workers — I'm not sure why they were never warned about that, but I suspect that she may possibly have gotten it that way.

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Credit Ceasar Elloie
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Theresa was known for her elaborate ribbon corsages.

When she got sick it hit her kind of fast. My nephew, her son, had been talking to her on the phone, he thought she was just sleeping. So I told him to go over there and see what's going on and he did, and he found her in bad condition and he called me. I went over there and called 911 to come and get her. And that's the last time I saw my sister.

We plan to bury her at Mount Olivet in Gentilly, next to Dillard University, because my father is buried there. To honor Theresa, in an attempt to give myself closure and help other family members, I did a little video tribute. I sang a little song. Considering that we came from a traditional New Orleans family, I did "I'll Fly Away."

I can warmly say that she was well-loved.

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