Bruce, Carolyn Gandy named grand marshals of Many Christmas Parade

Bruce and Carolyn Gandy, long time residents of Many, are the Grand Marshals of the Many Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 22 at 2 p.m.

The couple has been married for 46 years.  Both have been active within the Many community for many years.  Bruce has been the owner of Vandegaer Insurance Agency since he purchased it in 1986.  Carolyn taught eighth grade at Many Junior High School for 36 years. She continued to work as a substitute teacher after retirement.

Bruce was born in Many in 1949 to Martin and Evonne Gandy who instilled in him a love of God, family and country. He graduated from Many High School where he played football, basketball, and ran track. 

 He is still a strong supporter of Many Tiger athletics and has been a member of the "Chain Gang" working the sidelines at Many Tiger football games for the last 20 years. He is a long-time member of the Tiger Club and served as president of the Quarterback Club several times. Bruce also announced the high school football games whenever he was asked.

However, once his two sons Matt and Scott started playing football for MHS, Bruce "retired" so he could watch the games and cheer his boys on.  His sons have graduated now, but Bruce remains an ardent fan of the Tigers and never tires of talking football with his friends and sons.

Years ago, a group of men started cooking for the MHS football team. Bruce learned to cook a delicious steak under the supervision of W.E. "Boots" Hayes.  As their cooking skills became well known, Bruce and his team cooked for banquets, fund raisers and on other occasions.

Bruce attended Louisiana Tech University from 1967-1968. He then joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. He was on active duty until 1972 when he took an early discharge due to the illness and death of his dad.  The Navy instilled discipline and a strong work ethic in Bruce.

Bruce came home to Many and enrolled at Northwestern State University. He graduated in 1975 as an honor student with a bachelor's degree in business administration.  Just as his father had worked as an insurance agent, Bruce did too.  He started work for Southland Life Insurance and qualified four times for the Million Dollar Roundtable.

Bruce joined Vandegaer Insurance Agency where he became a full partner in 1984.  He purchased the agency in 1986 and still works there as the full-time owner.  Bruce says he loves to go to work each day.

Bruce is active in Many’s business community and has served as president of the Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce three different times.  He has served on the Chamber board for many years.  He also has served on the Sales and Usage Tax Commission and the Highway 171 Committee for Sabine Parish. 

Bruce, however, is not only about work.  He enjoys hunting, fishing and playing golf with his two sons.  He thinks enjoying these activities with his sons has tightened the strong bond the three men share.  Now days, he spends lots of time teaching the game of golf to his grandson Jax, the son of Matt Gandy.  Bruce brags that Jax, who's now in first grade, is so good that he may go professional when he's old enough. " Of course, he has a great coach," Bruce laughs.

Matt and his wife Natalie have three sons: Carter, Cole, and Jax.  So, Bruce is looking forward to teaching Carter and Cole the game of golf too. 

"Who knows?" Bruce speculated.  "We may have three young champions in the golf game some day."

 A two-time golf champion at Cypress Bend Golf Course, Bruce has also been a three-time match play champion.  He also plays in tournaments for schools, churches, and charitable causes.

Bruce is an enthusiastic fan of LSU football.  He enjoys attending games and cheering on the LSU team, whether he is at Tiger Stadium watching the game or at home with family and friends.

A life time member of the First Baptist Church of Many, Bruce has served on many committees.  He is a role model for many because he always lends a helping hand whenever he is asked.

Family, community, country, and church define Bruce Gandy.

One rarely thinks of Bruce without thinking of his better half: his wife Carolyn.

Bruce and Carolyn were married in 1972 in Carolyn's home town of Dequincy.  They met when Carolyn roomed with Judy Wright Cathey at Northwestern State University.  One weekend Carolyn traveled to Negreet with Judy to spend the weekend. On that fateful weekend, Judy introduced Carolyn to her friend Bruce Gandy.   They both agree it was the best introduction ever. Many has been their home since their marriage 46 years ago.

Carolyn Mathews was born to Frank Mathews and her mother in 1949. She was reared by her father and stepmother Eva Mathews in a home that was always happy, welcoming, and full of music. Her dad was a talented musician, playing piano, violin, and either teaching music or conducting several bands and orchestras.   His dedication to his young students was an influence in Carolyn's career choice to be a teacher. 

Carolyn's mother, Sara Ann Vollaro, was also a talented piano player.  She and Carolyn had a close, loving bond and were both "people persons."

After graduating from Dequincy High School in 1967, Carolyn attended NSU in Natchitoches and earned a BA degree in elementary education and an M.A. degree in educational technology. 

She taught eighth grade for 36 years and was twice named Teacher of the Year at MJHS.  After retiring, she served as a substitute teacher.

She recently began working with Kid's Hope, an intense program teaming teachers and students for one hour each week during the school year.  Energizing students and dedicated faculty will always be important parts of Carolyn Gandy's life.

She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and also a member of the Retired Teachers of Louisiana.  Carolyn is a past member of the Jaycees and Jaynes and has held offices in the Many Quarterback Club and the MHS Basketball Club.  Like her husband, she is an enthusiastic Many Tiger fan all the way and all the time.

Carolyn's hobbies include reading and photography.  Carolyn has taken a picture of everyone who knows her at least once, but more likely dozens of pictures and dozens of times. She's known as the "party picture lady “, standing just behind the official wedding photographer and capturing special memories for the bride and groom.  Carolyn also takes pictures of birthday parties and dinners, shower parties, wedding receptions and other special events.  Sharing her photos is a passion she loves. 

Throughout Many and the surrounding areas, Carolyn Gandy is known for her big smile, her twinkling blue eyes, her gregarious personality, her thoughtfulness and generosity.  "Making other people happy is something I love doing," she cheerfully admits.

Carolyn, like her husband, is a loyal member of the First Baptist Church of Many where she performs with the Hand Bell Choir.  She is also the official photographer for church activities, especially Vacation Bible School each summer.  Carolyn enjoys reading daily devotionals and being a prayer warrior. 

Many people, during troubled or sad times, have learned that Carolyn Gandy can make the darkest day seem brighter through her love, compassion, and empathy.

Many Mayor Ken Freeman summed up the reason the Gandys have been selected as the 2018 Grand Marshals of the Many Christmas Parade. 

"Bruce and Carolyn are the kind of citizens that any town would love to have.  They are charitable and kind.  They are always willing to help out whenever they are needed. They are totally devoted to making our community the best it can be. We are honored that they have agreed to be our Christmas Parade Grand Marshals for this year."

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