Georgette, along with dozens of other patients from Pontchatrain Health Care Center in Mandeville, had been temporarily relocated to the school turned shelter. Br. Bede, a monk at Saint Joseph Abbey, didn’t know she was at the school, but stumbled on her while distributing Bibles with his mother, a certified surgical assistant from Madisonville, who had been volunteering her service at the shelter in the days following Katrina. “We didn’t know she was at the high school, so you can believe how shocked we were when we found out she was there,” said Br. Bede.
Georgette Pintado was born in France in 1924 and grew up during the time of the Nazi Occupation. As a young woman she had been harassed by SS soldiers at a train station for not having her papers on her; she couldn’t understand them so the German soldiers slapped her and threatened to rape her. Fortunately she was able to get away unharmed, but vowed to emigrate from France after the war. Leaving her family behind, she sailed to New York after the liberation, moved to New Orleans, had a son named George, married Nicholas Pintado, a Coast Guardsman, and moved to Mandeville where she lived over forty years. “When they met, her husband knew how to say, “oui,” and she knew “yes,” which was all the language they needed to fall in love,” said Br. Bede.
Especially after her husband’s death of a heart attack, Georgette dedicated her life to caring for children at her home in Mandeville. In her two-story blue house in Old Golden Shores she fed, cleaned and bathed scores of children through the years. “She wasn’t just a baby sitter, she was a real nanny,” said Jackie Lark, whose two children, Brian and Jeffery, were cared for by Georgette from birth until they were old enough to be home alone. “She did everything for our kids, even baked cakes for them on their birthdays,” she said.
For twenty-five years, every Wednesday she visited the sick at Pontchatrain Health Care Center as a eucharistic minister. She was so committed to this weekly service, that if a parent kept their child late at her house on Wednesday they knew to pick them up at the nursing home. It wasn’t unusual for Georgette to arrive at the nursing home with five or six children in tow, assigning them special tasks for the patients. She not only distributed communion to the patients but spent ample time with each person, talking to them and giving out candy or cigarettes as needed. This was the same nursing home where she would move into after her quadruple bypass surgery in 2003. Her condition worsened after her son, George died of a heart attack in 2004. The impact of Katrina worsened her condition even further, along with the stress of relocating, her debilitating arthritis, and poor vascular circulation became too much for her body.
Georgette was moved back to Pontchatrain Health Care Center three weeks after the storm. Father John F. Talamo, a Salesian priest at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church gave her the anointing of the sick before she went into a coma and a few days later she died on October 4, 2005. Father John declared her a “living saint” at her funeral mass and commended her for her unfailing service to the church. He mentioned that in her final days she still remembered the “Hail Mary” and the “Our Father” even though she was quickly losing consciousness.
Georgette’s daughter-in-law Marci Tittle of Hickory Creek, TX and her granddaughter, Megan of Seattle, Washington, arranged the funeral and the gathering afterwards at the home of Jean Champagne of Mandeville. Many of the children she cared for, the “les enfants” she spoke about before she died, gathered together there and shared stories about their Nanan. Nanan’s kids. Simone. Katherine. Sarah. Brian. Greg. Jean. John. Jeffery. Margaret. “It felt good to share what we remembered about Nanan and to know it was her who brought us all together,” said one of the children at the gathering. Nanan was the glue for these children’s lives -- an influence that cannot be easily forgotten, no matter what may befall us.