New Orleans storyteller Ronnie Virgets dies at 77

Ronnie Virgets, pictured on May, 29, 2009 at the retirement party of fellow Times-Picayune...
Ronnie Virgets, pictured on May, 29, 2009 at the retirement party of fellow Times-Picayune writer Angus Lind.
Updated: May. 21, 2019 at 6:49 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Ronnie Virgets, the New Orleans storyteller with a distinct accent and raspy voice, dies at the age of 77, according to Times-Picayune.

Virgets passed away Monday night at the Ormond nursing Home in Destrehan.

He was an award winning writer who wrote about New Orleans, modern literature, and horse racing.

His longtime companion Lynn Jensen said Virgets was a genius 'Yat’ calling him “a walking, talking paradox.”

Known for his distinctive voice, Virgets was a staple in the New Orleans journalism landscape.

“His voice was unmistakable,” said Angus Lind, a longtime friend and former Times-Picayune columnist. “I could pick Ronnie’s voice out of 20 New Orleans accents. It was gravelly, raspy and original. The accent was pure; I don’t think it was forced. There are guys who try to do the New Orleans accent, and they are forcing it. Ronnie didn’t have to force anything; he was it.”

Virgets was inducted into the Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame, and he won two Eclipse Awards, which are national honors from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, The Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.

When Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, Mr. Virgets refused to evacuate and rode out the storm in Jensen’s two-story Lakeview house. When water overwhelmed the bottom level, Mr. Virgets headed upstairs and was rescued by a boat several days later, Krantz said.

He wrote “Diary of a Displaced Person: The First 72 Hours,” an essay about the effects of the storm, which he read on NPR. It appears in “Lost Bread Flavored with a Little Steen’s Cane Syrup,” a collection of his writings. Other compilations are “Say, Cap!: The New Orleans Views of Ronnie Virgets” and “Saints and Lesser Souls: The New Orleans Views of Ronnie Virgets.”

In addition to Jensen, survivors include a son, Michael Virgets of New Orleans; two daughters, Stephanie Whittington of Raceland and Tara Mackey of Metairie; a brother, Tommy Virgets of Switzerland; and seven grandchildren.

His cause of death of not been determined.

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