Memorial arrangements have not yet been announced.
Fontenot was born June 18, 1933 to A.L. and Edith Fontenot of Eunice.
His father worked in the oilfield industry, and Fontenot joined him in the summers after turning 15.
Fontenot once said his father encouraged him to go to college by giving him the dirtiest jobs to do.
That experience apparently did the trick, because after graduating from Eunice High in 1953, Fontenot attended Southwestern Louisiana Institute (Now University of Louisiana at Lafayette).
Fontenot left college after two years to serve a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, completing basic training at Port Chassey, Ark. and serving stateside.
He graduated SLI in 1959 with a Bachelors in Industrial Arts Education before returning to work in the oilfields.
Fontenot was hired by Eunice Elementary Principal Louis Dischler as a special education teacher; he developed a love of the education field, and went back to college to obtain his Masters Degree in School Administration from Louisiana State University in 1962.
In 1966, he was appointed principal of Central Elementary Middle School, which became the Eunice Junior High School when Eunice schools were racially integrated in 1969.
In 1971, Fontenot was appointed principal of Eunice High School.
During his tenure, Eunice High’s football team won a state championship in 1982, and in 1983, the U.S. State Department named Eunice High one of the top three academically performing schools in Louisiana.
He served as principal until 1990, when he was hired to serve as St. Landry Parish School System Superintendent.
During his tenure, Fontenot fought to improve access to technology for St. Landry students.
Fontenot and other superintendents joined in a suit to change the equalization formulas used in state funding.
Governor Edwin Edwards compromised, and Fontenot used the extra funds provided by the state to introduce computer labs into the parish schools.
Fontenot served as superintendent until his retirement in 1995.
Following his retirement, Fontenot continued to do part-time consulting work for educational software companies.
Fontenot also had an interest in World War II, which he was able to explore more fully after retirement.
Fontenot was a child during the war, but had two cousins who were pilots, and his stepfather, Marion Courville, was a machine gunner during the war.
Fontenot also lived close to the Eunice Fairgrounds, which had become a U.S. Army field base and was used to house German prisoners of war.
Fontenot made several trips to Europe to visit World War II sites, and became well-known as a local historian of the war.
Fontenot also spent much of his spare time caring for his home and 30-acre property north of Eunice, with its garden, man-made lake and woodland walking trail.
Fontenot also served on the Louisiana State University Eunice Advisory Board at various points since the 1970's, and recently served as chairman of the board.
Fontenot was a long-time member of the Eunice Rotary Club and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary Club International.
Fontenot is survived by his ex-wife, Blanche Blalock, and his two sons, David Grant Fontenot of Baton Rouge and John Jerome Fontenot, veterinarian/owner of Miller Veterinarian Hospital.
Tara Fruge’ LeBlanc, president of Eunice High Alumni Association, said, “He was instrumental as chairman of the Alumni Centennial Brick Campaign. He helped with the architectural design alongside Russel Francois. It’s a bittersweet moment this morning because of the breaking ground, preparing slab work right now. I know he would have loved to see this today.”
LSUE Chancellor William "Bill" Nunez said that Fontenot was one of the first people to make him feel welcome when he arrived in Eunice.
"He was an outstanding educator and a sterling gentleman. He served this region well in his professional life and after his retirement by his many community service activities. We were proud and pleased to have him on our Advisory Board and as its president," Nunez said.
“He was a great man, he was a mentor to me; I attribute my entire career in education to him,” said former Eunice High Principal Margaret Leger.
Fontenot was her junior high school principal and hired her for her first teaching job.
“He was a great leader, a geat friend and a wonderful father,” she said, adding, “He did so many things for the Eunice community behind the scenes, and never took credit for it. He was a huge asset to Eunice High School and the Eunice community and will be greatly missed.”
Mitch Fontenot, current Eunice High principal, said, “Mr. Raymond Fontenot was a friend and mentor. He has touched so many lives and did so much for our school and community. His hands are still involved today with the breaking of the ground for our Alumni Plaza in front of school. He will be sadly missed by our Eunice High School family.”