by Ed Lallo/Louisiana Seafood News
At 10:38 am on what was a sunny Saturday morning, the mood darkened in southern Louisiana as the state and Gulf seafood industries lost one of their strongest voices. Michael C. Voisin, owner of Motivatit Seafoods and a current Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner, died in intensive care from a massive heart condition while at Terrebonne General Hospital in his hometown of Houma.
Voisin, owner of one of Louisiana’s oldest and best known oyster-processing companies, was instrumental in founding the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board in 1984. He was an outspoken voice, supporting both the quality of Louisiana Seafood as well as the culture of its community.
The Three Amigos
“Mike died peacefully to the songs sung by family and friends,” said longtime close-friend Chris Nelson, vice president of Alabama Bon Secour Fisheries. “It was both a privilege and honor to be so close to Mike during his final hours.”
“Our friendship went beyond being in the seafood industry,” said Al Sunseri of New Orleans P & J Oyster Company. “Mike, Chris and I have been inseparable for as long as I can remember, so much so that we earned the nickname ‘The Three Amigos’. It is going to be hard not having Mike around to bounce ideas off of. We will sorely miss our amigo.”
Voisin, Sunseri and Nelson were instrumental in founding the Gulf Oyster Industry Council’s “Walk the Hill” more that 15-years ago. This year’s annual walk consisting of more than 30 Gulf coast participants was completed the day before Voisin’s death.
“It was a tragedy that Mike fell ill the day before he was scheduled to go to Washington,” said Nelson. “Everywhere we went on the hill, congressmen and senators asked how Mike was doing. Their offices contained Louisiana Seafood placards draped with a yellow ribbons to signify Mike’s ‘Gold Band Oysters’.”
From California to Louisiana
Born in Los Angeles, Voisin had lived in Louisiana for more than 38-years. He has owned Houma-based Motivatit Seafoods since 1971, and was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Voisin’s affiliations with organizations included; former chairman of the National Fisheries Institute, Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association, Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, Southeastern Fisheries Association, Louisiana Seafood Processors Council, Gulf Oyster Industry Council and the Louisiana Oyster Task Force.
As a current commissioner, Voisin viewed the management of Louisiana’s wildlife and fisheries resources as critical to the economic and cultural heritage that is Louisiana.
He would often state “We are known around the world and country for our tremendous seafood and wildlife resources. It is critical that they are managed in a sustainable manner for our enjoyment today and future generations to come.”
A Calm Voice of Reason
“In this world of mediocrity in which we all must live, there are few men that stand out above the rest. Then there was Mike,” said former Louisiana Seafood Board chairman Harlon Pearce. “His caring for his fellow man, his undying love for his family as well as the industry he held so dear, made this world a better place. I know I am a better man because of him.”
“We went through so many issues and fought so many battles,” said Sunseri of his departed friend. “ He had the gift of keeping everyone together, even when things seemed to be falling apart.”
“I loved the way he conducted meetings, without losing his temper, no matter how many Type A personalities, such as mine, were in the room arguing over fish issues.” said Bob Jones, executive director of Southeastern Fisheries Association, in a Facebook post. “I loved the way that big, strong, articulate “Cajun” treated others in such a gentle, understanding and loving manner. I think most of all, in my own selfish way, how I cherished the way he made me feel when I was in his presence.”
According to Nelson, it is going to take a whole lot more than a few people to fill the shoes that Voisin has left empty. “Mike was so involved in so many groups and organizations, the void he has left will be hard to fill anytime soon.”
“Our whole department is so terribly saddened at the passing of Mike,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham. “On a daily basis, I relied on his extensive knowledge of the coastal environment and seafood industry. No one was more versed on seafood management. It will be virtually impossible to find someone that has the ability, the knowledge and the will to ensure Louisiana remains a leader in the seafood industry.”
“During the last 40 years, Mike Voisin has done more for the domestic seafood industry than any other individual,” said Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. ”In addition to owning and operating Motivatit Seafood, he founded the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, served as chairman of the National Fisheries Institute, and volunteered his time and expertise to anyone who sought to promote and preserve Gulf Coast fisheries. Mike had a unique ability to not just listen, but to really hear what people were saying. His patience allowed him to find consensus when it appeared all but impossible. His faith gave him the vision to be the leader we knew and loved. His kindness and compassion left a lasting impression on everyone he met. Louisiana and the Gulf Coast have lost a true champion and a trusted friend in Mike Voisin.”
Giving Pointers from Above
Voisin was known for his ability to lead; be it family, church, community, state or industry.
“Mike led, that is what he did better than anyone,” said Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “ He led with compassion, passion, sincerity and most of all love. We’ve lost a very, very dear friend.”
According to Smith who considered Voisin his mentor, “Our seafood community has lost an incredible leader. Our seafood community is where it is today because of Mike. It will continue to move forward because of all of his amazing efforts. We will miss him dearly and pray for his wonderful family.”
“One thing for sure, Mike was a leader while here on earth and we know he will continue to lead from above,” said Sunseri about his lost amigo. “I am confident that he will continue to send us messages to protect, not only the oyster industry, but the entire Louisiana and Gulf Coast seafood community that he worked so hard to serve, and loved so dearly.”
Editors Note: Mike Voisin’s Funeral Arrangements
A wake for Mike Voisin will be held Wednesday, February 6 at Chauvin Funeral Home, 5899 Louisiana Highway 311 in Houma, LA 70360, (985) 873-7787. The time is still to be determined, but usual visitation is 5-6pm for family and 6 – 9 or 10 pm for general public.
The funeral will be held on Thursday, February 7 at Living Word Church, 1916 Louisiana Highway 311 in Schriever, LA. The service is scheduled for 11am. Visitation at the church will start at approximately 9am until time of service.
Mike and his family are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Living Word Church has extended the use of the church to the Voisin Family to accommodate the large crowd expected at the service.