2023ObituariesJames “Jim” Edwin Champagne

April 4, 2023by SealeUser8
Champagne, James

March 12, 1944 – April 2, 2023

James “Jim” Edwin Champagne, aged 79, of Denham Springs, died on the afternoon of Sunday April 2, 2023, at The Carpenter House Hospice in
Baton Rouge, LA. Jim’s passing follows closely behind that of his beloved wife, Darlene Reinert Champagne, who passed on March 13, 2023.
Jim was born on March 12, 1944 to Edwin C. “Brother” Champagne and Margret “Peggy” Atkin Champagne, in Laurel, Maryland. He grew up in
Baton Rouge and was a 1962 graduate of Catholic High School. Jim served in the Louisiana National Guard for five years. He was a
graduate of the Northwestern University Traffic Institute in Evanston, Illinois. He also held a BA from Southeastern Louisiana University. Jim had
long and distinguished career as a Louisiana State Trooper serving 21 years, 7 months, and 23 days, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He continued to serve the State of Louisiana as the Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commissioner under three governors.
Jim spent his second retirement playing golf, cheering on the LSU Tigers, and being Paw Paw. Jim and Darlene were longtime members of La Krewe
Mystique de la Capital. Jim is survived by his stepson Philip Melancon and his partner Chris Guillotte, grandchildren Elizabeth and Alexander Melancon, daughter
Michelle Champagne, son Michael Champagne, and brother Bill Champagne. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, sister Jane, and Darlene, his
beloved wife of 38 years. Condolences may be offered at www.sealefuneral.com




  • Angie Womack Jones

    May 14, 2023 at 10:11 pm

    As my boss at LHSC from 2006 until 2008, Col. Champagne meant the world to me. We met in 2005 when I interviewed him about his work as Captain of Louisiana State Police Public Affairs in the 1980s. As a Public Relations major I was extremely hungry to go to work in PR and working as a PIO for LSP Haz-Mat was just not cutting it. So LSP HR had me write a job description for a civilian PIO position in LSP Public Affairs. Col. Champagne had two civilian PIOs working for him in the 1980s and he graciously shared with me how they served LSP back then and how he thought new PIOs could serve in the then 2005 climate of LSP and I wrote the job description based on our interview. The last step in re-instituting a civilian PIO position in Public Affairs was to get the LSP Colonel to sign off on that job description. Fortunately for me, then LSP Col. Henry Whitehorn didn’t agree to sign off. Therefore, when a PIO and Program Coordinator position came available at LHSC, I applied and was hired in 2006. I absolutely loved working with Col Champagne. He was dynamic and strategically soft but firm in articulating his ideas to stop impaired driving in its tracks and his fortitude is unparalleled. When I came to him with out-of-the-box ideas, he generally allowed me to run with them. As impaired driving Program Coordinator I managed an underage driving prevention group at LSU called the Campus Community Coalition for Change, and at a meeting spouted off the idea of collecting the underage drinking summons from ACT and EBR ABC and publishing them in the hometown papers of the students, similar to the way DWIs are published but I was quickly told I’d have to clear this idea with Col Champagne. Much to my delight, he agreed this was a good idea and I did send these summons to all the hometown papers of the students, except the Baton Rouge Advocate, which wasn’t quite on board with this idea. Back then, law enforcement didn’t have much sway over underage drinkers but when Daddy, Momma, or hometown friends and family came across their name in the paper, their actions changed. The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission suffered a great loss upon Col Champagne’s departure in 2008 and this ole’ world suffered a great loss upon his passing this year. Louisiana’s loss is definitely heaven’s gain.


  • Pratt Hayes

    April 5, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    Jim was a great leader and true friend. He and Darlene will be greatly missed.


  • robert harper

    April 5, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    Jim and I worked together for several years when he was in charge of legislative affairs at State Police and I was a budget analyst with the Division of Administration. He was a wonderful person to work with and a credit to State Police.


  • Rut Whittington

    April 5, 2023 at 12:55 pm

    I worked for Jim at the La State Police. He was ideal for me. He was mentally quick, decisive, energetic and allowed his subordinates wide latitude in getting the job done. He was a mentor and friend. I pray for his and Darlene’s extended families during this time of sadness and loss.


  • John Rigol

    April 5, 2023 at 6:32 am

    Jim Champagne, the archetype of nobleness.

    My laissez-faire leader, Jim Champagne, essentially gave me two orders a year, both of which were distasteful for me. (I’ll speak more about Jim later in this chapter.) One of those directives was to attend the yearly LSTA conventions. He thought my attendance there would emend my somewhat inimical image—what an optimist!

    Jim was my commander for most of the second half of my State Police career. Of all my godfathers, Jim was premier. He was so much so that I nicknamed him “Godfather,” and his other subordinates, too, then began to use the sobriquet.

    Jim was the best manager I have ever known. He truly knew how to develop his subordinates. His style was the antithesis of micro-managing. He gave me an open ticket—I could set my own programs (mission, goals, and objectives), agenda, working hours, and style. He allowed me to do so because, according to him, I produced at a high level.

    Jim opened me to new horizons as well as an entirely new—and very economically rewarding—career in accident reconstruction. I could never have done so without Jim’s help and guidance, and I am eternally grateful to him for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. Moreover, I’m not so sure I would have achieved the high degree of self-confidence I did if I would have had to have worked for a different supervisor in a more restrictive environment.

    Jim was a sainted man. There are very few–if any–like him. And I mourn for the loss of my beloved friend, mentor, and spectacular human being.


  • Sharon Sikora

    April 5, 2023 at 3:17 am

    I served with Jim on the SADD board. He always had a positive attitude, smiling face and a cheerleader for Louisiana! I still have all the wonderful beads he brought to every meeting. He was an inspiration to so many. Rest in peace.


  • Al Willumitis

    April 5, 2023 at 2:10 am

    Rest in Peace Colonel. You were a great friend and mentor. Until we meet again.


  • Hazel batyah reinert gage

    April 5, 2023 at 1:14 am

    When I was married to Darlene’s brother Curtis we spent a lot of time with them. I remember him helping us get around the quarter into places. I remember a risk game that went on for days. We both loved them very much and had a lot of fun with them. They were special people.


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