Jimmie Antoine Vizier (1933-2010) Cut Off, LA
Southwest of New Orleans, along the Bayou LaFourche in Louisiana’s delta region, is Galliano, home to one of the most prominent families of Louisiana carvers. It was here that Jimmie Vizier, growing up in a crowded houseboat, first learned about decoys by watching his father carve them by the dozens.
Vizier was a man with strong ties to the water. At the age of twelve he dropped out of school to work on his father’s fishing boat, and he spent much of his life working on shrimp and tug boats in the Gulf of Mexico, co-owning a boat with his brother Tommie at one point. From 1953-1956, Jimmie proudly served in the Marines and completed a tour in Korea. In 1957 Jimmie married Marion Cheramie and together they had three daughters, Myra, Jessica, and Mitzi. In the mid-1960s the Vizier brothers, along with their families, moved to England to work on a boat in the North Sea, returning to the bayous in the late 1970s.
The delta region of Louisiana is the vortex for the Mississippi and Central Flyways; the combination of marshland and waterfowl presence during migration helps facilitate a unique hunting and decoy carving culture. The Vizier family has a legacy of carving and, as a third-generation carver, Jimmie learned the skills mastered by his father and grandfather at a young age.
Jimmie was best known for his duck carvings, specifically his pintails. In the early 1970s he began travelling to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to attend the Easton Waterfowl Festival and the Ward World Championships in Ocean City. Jimmie lived each year in anticipation of these events and rarely missed a show regardless of how far away he was living for work. He contributed many carvings to the World Championship’s annual auction and was proud when he drew the highest bid. Jimmie’s working decoys won several Best in Show awards at the World Championships, and for 29 years he offered his expertise as a judge at the tanks. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, Jimmie often provided insight and instruction to fellow carvers.
All will fondly remember the sparkle in his eyes as he told his stories about life as a Marine, waterman, and decoy maker. He was a proud man who embraced life, loved his country, the carving community, and his family. Given Jimmie’s contributions as a tradition bearer, competitor, carver, judge, and friend to the carving community, his place as one of the premier North American carvers in history cannot be denied. He will be sorely missed.
At the 40th Ward World Championship, the Ward Museum was proud to commemorate Jimmie’s legacy by the naming of the World Shootin’ Rig division as the Jimmie Vizier Memorial Award.