June, 1956 – July 22, 2008
Christopher Trepagnier, also fondly referred to as “Cricket”, passed away while incarcerated on July 22, 2008.
Presently survived by his loving sister, Denise Trepagnier, and his treasured daughters, Christina Trepagnier and Crystal O’Neal, Christopher left behind a legacy of a loving family, loyal and protective values, and the memory of an individual who cared about the people around him and made the most out of life.
Upon speaking with his last–remaining sister, Denise Trepagnier, I gained a valuable insight into the life and the profound impact that Christopher had on those around him. Denise described Christopher as the kind of individual that held his family and loved ones in the highest regard, never letting an opportunity to assist those around him with whatever they needed – someone who deeply cared about his community, a person who had a deep appreciation in the value of connection, and one who had a sincere relationship with his faith.
In describing Christopher, Denise left me with the impression that he was a person who was just like any other member of the community. Though she described him and his life with profound sadness that could be heard even through the telephone, it also was accompanied by a sense of pride and love that every person hopes their family would have once they have left this Earth. She began by describing how he cared deeply for his mother, describing how he dutifully looked after and took care of her as she battled cancer, never wavering and doing all he could to make her life as comfortable as was possible.
This was not the only family member he dedicated himself to helping. As a loving father does, Denise described how he took care of his teenage daughter and her child, putting his family first as he always would. She then recounted how Christopher would never be too busy to help his family with even menial tasks. He often helped change Denise’s oil, and performed handyman work for whoever asked. She recounted stories of Christopher, describing him as a protective brother who deeply cared for his siblings and family.
Christopher was also an individual who, while putting priority in his family, understood the value in service to his community. Denise recounted the commitment to service that Christopher gave to his local church, telling stories about how he was friends with a priest from St. Peter Claver in New Orleans and the relationships he cultivated there. When speaking of his time spent involved with his community, Denise spoke with a sense of pride. I couldn’t help but feel connected to the story, as everyone born and raised in Southern Louisiana can appreciate the relationship between faith and community. Service to others and faith bring hope to those who need it, serving as a unifying institution in Louisianan communities, especially such as in the event of natural disasters. Unfortunately, due to events such as hurricanes, she stated that very few pictures of Christopher remain in the world, the few that survive are being held faithfully by his family.
When it came to Christopher’s profession, Denise spoke with an inflection that clearly conveyed just how proud she was of her brother. She told stories about how Christopher was a Sheriff’s Deputy in Baton Rouge, speaking fondly about her siblings vow to protect his community by devoting himself to a greater cause. She told about how he was friends with many officers and state troopers, connections which he brought with him throughout his life even into incarceration.
It seemed important for Denise to make known how his relationships of this kind didn’t end at the doors of the jailhouse. She told me about how even while behind bars, his smile didn’t fade. She spoke about how he continued to affect people even there, with such character affording him special privileges in prison, which was also accompanied by a degree of trust as well. She spoke about how his behavior, outlook, and ability to cultivate respectful relationships with people was evident, detailing how Mary Landrieu even helped move him to a location closer to his family and also assisted in making his mother’s home handicap-accessible.
Christopher Trepagnier, while not spending his time serving his community in whichever way he could, also enjoyed his life. Denise described him as always being the “life of the party”, never failing to bring others together and put a smile on everyone’s faces. She told me about his love for celebrations, birthdays, and parties. He was an avid attendee of Mardi Gras Parades, and would go deep sea fishing with his friends whenever he had the opportunity.
After interviewing Denise Trepagnier, and speaking with her about her brother, I started to gain a fuller view of the individual that was Christopher. I began to see just what the community lost upon his passing. I heard about a man that was dedicated to his family, who helped others, and understood the value of cultivating a close community.
I saw, just through the impact that his life and death had on his sister, the important role that he played in the lives of those around him. He seemed to evince a picture of a person that cared about ensuring his family’s safety and well-being, a man who found as a part of his character a calling to put others before himself.
Christopher Trepagnier left behind a legacy of love, family, and service. With his loss, his family and community lost an individual whose value cannot be easily quantifiable. As difficult as it was for Denise Trepagnier to tell of the painful memories of her brother, she understood the importance in making his story known. She wanted her brother to be remembered as the beloved member of a family and his community that he was, and for his memory to live on in the minds of others, just as it does in the ones who cared for him.
Author: Arthur Chassaignac
- Interview with his sister, Denise Trepagnier, Fall 2022.