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BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

Her colleagues at the Opelousas Police Department soon learned they were mistaken if they tried to intimidate a petite, but spunky young female officer named Brun Marks.

“She was like a little Chihuahua, who’s always nipping at your heels,” remembered former assistant police chief Paul Gennuso.

Marks-Ardoin remembered on Thursday night those frequent moments of harassment, resentment and perhaps jealousy 50 years ago when she became a deputy at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Department and later an officer who worked as an investigator that obtained undercover assignments for city law enforcement.

It was seemingly a whirlwind of poignant career experiences for which she may not have been prepared, but Marks-Ardoin said she weathered those uncomfortable episodes with her confidence and determination.

“For me it was battle, after battle after battle from the beginning. But you know what? I was able to do what I wanted to do. I made some good cases. I can say that I loved every moment, but it was quite an adventure,” Marks-Ardoin told a standing room-only crowd at the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center.

Marks-Ardoin was the honoree at the event which featured a 13-year law enforcement career as the first female St. Landry Parish deputy and Opelousas police officer.

Although there were numerous obstacles confronting her, Marks-Ardoin now considers them as experiences often filled with arduous moments.

One of those instances occurred when she was initially mistaken for a male when Marks-Ardoin arrived in 1973 at the Louisiana State Police Academy.

After she completed that training, Marks-Ardoin was assigned initially to menial duties as a deputy and city officer.

Riding with a male officer during her first routine street patrol assignments, Marks-Ardoin at some point was approached by him for a date as they rode together.

Later when Police Chief Howard Zerangue Sr. provided Marks-Ardoin with her own patrol unit, the vehicle was delivered to her with a welded seat that was positioned too far back for her to reach the brake.

Marks-Ardoin however had already devised a solution.

“Getting my first car back then was to me like winning the lottery. But I got a pillow to sit on and I brought a briefcase that I put behind my back,” Marks-Ardoin recalled.

“I think overall I was able to prove (in law enforcement) that I was able to do what I wanted to do,” Mark-Ardoin said.

One person who noticed her demeanor was Parish Council member Wayne Ardoin, who was then an Opelousas police officer and a member of the investigative unit that sometimes included fellow officer Brun Marks

“She had an attitude. I know I tried to get along with her. She didn’t bite her lip and she did her job,” said Wayne Ardoin, who married Brun Marks several years ago.

Opelousas Mayor Julius Alsandor said the achievements of Marks-Ardoin are significant.

“What you did to stay on the force and endure the negativity is commendable. We all should admire your tenacity and we applaud what you represented then and what you did for the people of this city,” Alsandor added.

Gennuso remembered that Officer Marks had no difficulty demonstrating her ability.

“She proved that she was worthy. We (officers) did what we had to do back in those days. (Marks-Ardoin) was the first female to go to the Academy and all of us learned that girl could go. If anyone messed with her, she’d let them know,” Gennuso added.

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