On Wednesday, June 12, the Acadiana community gathered to bid a final farewell to Richard Zuschlag, the co-founder and CEO of Acadian Ambulance. The ceremony, filled with profound tributes and heartfelt moments, was a testament to the life and legacy of a man who dedicated his life to serving others.

The mass, held at St. Pius, was conducted by Fr. Louis Richard of St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville, a longtime close friend and chaplain of Acadian Ambulance. Bishop Douglas Deshotels and Bishop Emeritus Michael Jarrell were in attendance, underscoring the deep respect and admiration Zuschlag commanded. Zuschlag's daughter, Beth Zuschlag Leblanc, delivered a touching eulogy, surrounded by her brothers Blair and Blaise, perfectly capturing the essence of their father's remarkable journey.

One unmistakable sight was the hearse—an Acadian Ambulance from decades past—symbolizing the foundation of his legacy. As the procession moved, two Acadian AirMed helicopters soared overhead. At the same time, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office Honor Guard performed bagpipes and presented Zuschlag's wife, Elaine, with a flag at Calvary Cemetery in Lafayette.

Stephanie Hanagriff Mann perfectly captured the day's sentiment in her Facebook post, describing the grand funeral, the firefighters' tribute, and the emotional last call. "Rest in peace, REZ," she wrote, summarizing the collective grief and admiration felt by many.

However, the most moving moment was the last radio call for Zuschlag, a tradition honoring fallen first responders. A video of this final call has been widely shared on social media, garnering dozens of shares and an emotional response from the community.


Clay Henry, who had the honor of broadcasting the last radio call for Zuschlag, shared his experience on Facebook, expressing gratitude for being part of such a significant moment. "I had the privilege of broadcasting the last radio call for Unit 100 Richard Zuschlag today which ended the funeral service at the cemetery. Thnx to all the other communication centers for broadcasting to the medics on duty," he wrote.

Richard Zuschlag's funeral was not just a farewell but a celebration of a life that profoundly impacted many. As reported by KATC's Jazmin Thibodeaux, Zuschlag, a Pennsylvania native, chose Lafayette as his home, where he founded Acadian Ambulance in 1971 with two friends, starting with just two ambulances and eight medics. Over the years, it grew to be a national leader in pre-hospital emergency medical care.

Randall Mann, Acadian Ambulance Public Relations, reflected on Zuschlag's deep connection with the Acadiana community. "He often said that if it would have been started somewhere else, it wouldn't have been successful because he truly loved the Acadian culture, the family atmosphere, the devotion, and he had a tremendous love for Acadiana and it's great that Acadiana has loved him back."

Monique Boulet, Lafayette Mayor-President, emphasized the significant impact of Zuschlag's decision to establish Acadian Ambulance in Lafayette. "His impact on the way we care for people when they're sick, when they're dying really was set in place many, many years ago when he started this company," she said.

Senator Gerald Boudreaux highlighted Zuschlag's inspirational legacy, noting his relentless dedication. "We never get tired, we never know what tomorrow will bring so let's take care of business today and that's who Richard Zuschlag was," he said.

Zuschlag's influence extended beyond emergency medical services. "We've transported over 20 million patients... We've had over 35,000 employees in our 53 years and he blessed so many of us with wonderful careers... He was really a true man of impact in our community," Mann added.

Richard Zuschlag's life and legacy will forever be remembered, not just for his contributions to emergency medical services but for his profound and lasting impact on the Acadiana community and beyond.

May he forever rest in peace.

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