Friends reflect on James Wallingsford’s inspirational love story as news of his death permeates Franklin Parish

Published: Apr. 18, 2021 at 8:08 PM CDT
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GILBERT, La. (KNOE) - The body of a Franklin Parish husband, father and grandfather was recovered from the lift boat that capsized off Louisiana’s coast. It’s tragedy hitting close to home for people who live in the village of Gilbert.

A love story that inspired many was cut short last week. The death of James “Tracy” Wallingsford has shaken his family and Gilbert residents to the core.

Tracy was a crane operator on the jack-up barge, but town members said the Wallingsford family are some of the best people you will ever meet.

Petal Pushers, a Gilbert flower shop, sits along the main road of the village. People inside, who didn’t want to talk on camera, said Wallingsford and his family were well-known and well-loved.

Love is one word said over and over, talking about Wallingsford and his wife Shelia. At other area businesses, Boone’s Grocery and Crickett’s Hide-A-Way, the owner has known the family for more than 20 years and said Tracy’s death is a big loss.

With a population of 504, the passing of Wallingsford is impactful but his legacy and memories will carry on.

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