The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office is mourning the passing of another employee to COVID-19, marking the second in the last month.
Deputy Laura James, who served more than 25 years in law enforcement, passed away Monday after a month-long battle with the deadly virus, Sheriff Jason Ard announced.
She was 51.
"It breaks my heart to report that Deputy Laura James died today following a month long battle with COVID-19," Ard said in a statement. "Her courageous battle has impacted every member of the LPSO. Laura shared her journey on her personal Facebook page.
"She shared this: ‘I Love each and everyone and feel yalls prayers.’"
According to Ard, James had been involved in emergency communications for 26 years. For nine of those years, she served with the Sheriff's Office. The rest of her career was split between Livingston Parish 911 and the Denham Springs Police Department.
Among her other duties, James helped train new LPSO employees and also filled in for the dispatch sergeant in their absence.
Outside of the field, James was a fixture of the sheriff's annual Christmas Crusade, "as she would happily volunteer to help spread smiles across Livingston Parish," Ard said.
She loved her family, traveling to Tennessee, and listening to Neil McCoy.
Among her peers, James was as beloved and as respected as anyone, Ard said. She even earned multiple nicknames from her co-workers.
"Laura was one of the nicest, sweetest and most genuine people you could ever meet," Ard said. "She was known to one of the road guys as 'Mawmaw Mildew' because she had been in Dispatch so long. Laura wore that nickname with pride as she knew those guys respected her."
Some of her other nicknames were "LouLou" and "Lala," the sheriff said.
Captain Jack Varnado, who is over the LPSO Communications Division, said James was the first dispatcher he met when he was hired and that "she greeted me with a hug and was so excited for me."
"I’ll never forget her words of encouragement that day and she continued to encourage me each and every day," Varnado said. "I will miss her smile but will never forget her positive attitude and sense of humor."
Ard asked the public to offer its condolences to James' family, including her husband Richard, her children Trey and Caly, and her three grandchildren.
"Please remember her family and co-workers in your prayers," Ard said.
"There won’t be another like Laura James. We will all miss her at the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office."
James is the second deputy from the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office to die from COVID-19 since August. Last month, Corporal Robert McKinney died after a two-week battle with the virus.