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William S. Patout III
Born William Schwing Patout III
(1932-10-15)October 15, 1932
New Iberia, Louisiana, U.S.
Died August 5, 2017(2017-08-05) (aged 84)
Place of burial St. Nicholas Cemetery in Iberia Parish
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Sugar grower
Political party Republican[1]
Spouse(s) Susan Crawford Patout (m. 1971–2017)
  • William Patout, IV
  • Rivers Martin Patout
  • Avrill Elizabeth Patout
  • Catherine Josephine Patout
  • Hester Caroline Patout
  • Susan Anne Marie Patout
  • Simeon Crawford Patout
  • William S. Patout, Jr.
  • Hester Catherine Bernadas Patout

William Schwing Patout, III (October 15, 1932 – August 5, 2017), also known as Billy Patout, was a sugar baron from New Iberia, Louisiana.

In 1832, his family began operating M. A. Patout Enterprise. The firm is managed by a non-family member president and board of trustees, but Patout continued in his later years as a consultant and a member of the company board of directors, who remain family members.


Patout was the oldest son of William S. Patout, Jr. (1908–1991), and the former Hester Catherine Bernadas (1911–1982). When Patout was eight years of age, his family moved to Patoutville in Iberia Parish, where he developed his interest in the sugar industry, as had his family for nearly two centuries earlier.

In his autobiography entitled Now You Know, he describes some of the childhood adventures that occurred while he lived on a sugar plantation. While the book is disjointed, contrived from letters that Patout wrote, certain sections transport the reader back to a different time. An excerpt:

When I was a child, the mill and quarters were surrounded by a fence with gates. There were always little boys around the gate area, and they would open them for you. Usually a 5-cent tip was given. The reason for the fence was to keep the cattle in. […] the practice was always a contention with the mill workers as the cattle would get in the factory and "mess" everywhere.

Personal life

From 1954 to 1955, Patout served in the United States Navy. He married Susan Ann Crawford of Indiana in 1971, and together they reared seven children: William Schwing, IV, Rivers Martin, Avrill Elizabeth, Catherine Josephine, Hester Caroline, Susan Anne Marie, and Simeon Crawford. There are seventeen grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His main hobby was aviation. He died at the age of 84 on August 5, 2017. A Roman Catholic, he is entombed at St. Nicholas Cemetery in Patoutville.[2]


After studying Agricultural Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and sugar technology and business management in Hawaii, Patout began his career with the M. A. Patout Company in 1956. He worked there as an assistant engineer for three years before moving on to become an engineer for Brewer & Co. in Honolulu, Hawaii, from 1959 to 1960. He moved from company to company to gain work experience before settling back with his family's company from 1970 until 2001. He started as an assistant general manager and worked his way up to president and chief executive officer/general manager.

The years between 1960 and 1970 he spent in the following positions:

  • 1960–1961: chief engineer of Olokele Sugar Company, C. Brewer & Co., Kauai, Hawaii
  • 1961–1962: associate, Vought Consulting Engineers, Paincourtville in Assumption Parish
  • 1962–1963: project engineer, Cinclare Sugar Factory, Brusly in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
  • 1963–1965: administrative agricultural engineer, M.A. Patout, Patoutville, Louisiana
  • 1965–1969: chief engineer, Grove Farm, Kauai, Hawaii
  • 1969–1970: assistant general manager, Haitian American Sugar, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Patout is credited with having kept M. A. Patout afloat during his tenure: despite drought, crop disease, hurricanes, freezes, low sugar prices, and the loss of land because of pressure from residential and commercial developments, Patout was able to expand the company. He acquired Sterling Sugars, Inc., from former Governor Mike Foster and Raceland Sugars. He increased the sugar-growing acreage from 12,000 to 56,000.

Perhaps Patout's greatest accomplishment was leading his flagship factory, the Enterprise mill in Patoutville, to become the first and only factory to mill two million tons of cane and be the only cane diffuser operating in North America.

Patout sat on the board of M. A. Patout and was a consultant for sugar businesses around the world. He has advised many nations, including the Peoples' Republic of China, the United States Department of Commerce; and private companies in Jamaica and Mexico.

Patout has seen the following changes occur in the sugar industry since 1956:

  1. Steam turbines replaced steam engines on the milling tandems
  2. Diffusers replaced milling tandems
  3. Continuous vacuum pans replaced batch pans
  4. Shredders replaced two-roll crushers
  5. New vertical crystallizers replaced horizontal crystallizers.

Patout argued that Biomass, Bioplastic, renewable energy and cellulose ethanol can boost the U.S. sugar industry.

M. A. Patout

M. A. Patout & Sons, Ltd. is the 18th oldest family-owned company in the United States, incorporated in 1910. It began when Simeon Patout moved his family from France, where he ran a winery, to Isle Picante in Louisiana in the late 1820s. He began growing sugar cane and built a sugar mill. The area was renamed Patoutville.

When Simeon died of yellow fever in 1847, his wife Appoline took over the company, and under her direction, it continued to grow. Her son Hippolyte ran the company for a short time before he, too, succumbed to the disease, after which his widow, Mary Ann Schwing Patout, assumed control. Highly successful, she became the United States' first female member of a bank board and later its president. After her stint as head of M. A. Patout, the company was run by family members (in chronological order) Hippolyte Jr., William S. Patout, William S. Patout, Jr., and William S. Patout, III. Billy Patout then hired a non-family member, Craig P. Caillier, to head the operations.

Today M. A. Patout runs three sugar mills which produce about a third of the sugar in the state of Louisiana, or 450,000 tons per year.

Awards & other activities

Patout won the Dyer Memorial "Sugar Man of the Year" award in 2007[3][4] and various other Louisiana awards throughout his career.

In addition to M. A. Patout, Patout was involved with:

  • American Sugar Cane League, an interest group which seeks to direct agricultural and manufacturing research and impact legislation in Louisiana and in Washington D.C.; director, 1974–1999, and past president, 1997–1999
  • Western Sugar Producers (represented Bayou Teche sugar factories): past president, 1974–1975; received the league's President's Award in 2000.
  • Sugar Processing Research Institute (worked with United States Department of Agriculture): member, 1990–2001; past president, 1999–2001
  • Agro-Flex (non-profit whose goal was to bring more agricultural business to Louisiana): past president, 1975–1975
  • In 1997, he became a board member of the First National Bank of Jeanerette


  1. "William Patout, October 1932". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved July 17, 2015. 
  2. "William Patout, III, obituary". The Baton Rouge Advocate. August 7, 2017. Retrieved August 8, 2017. 
  3. Schmidt, Kathrine (June 1, 2008). "Retired Patoutville exec gets sugar award". Houma Today. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  4. Leleux-Thubron, Holly (May 22, 2008). "The Sugar Man". Daily Iberian. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 

External links

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