This year’s Jean Lafitte, Karl Lopez, was born and raised in Lake Charles. He graduated from LaGrange High School. He then attended what is now Sowela Technical Community College and graduated with an associate’s degree in airframe and powerplant technology.
Lopez worked as an aircraft mechanic for Morgan Crop Service in Iowa, La. A short while later, he went to work for Otis Engineering (1974-80), where he worked as a wireline operator on land and offshore and ran one of the lift boats. He then went into the special service, where he ran coil tubing and snubbing units. He later moved into the packer department, running completions.
Lopez next worked a 37-year stint at Conoco as a company representative on the drilling rigs. He worked in many different areas and countries before he retired in August, 2017. He helped to design several drill bit innovations; these helped him set 16 world records. He continued in this line of work in his last assignment, which required him to spend four years in North Dakota, experiencing extremely cold winters and an abundance of snow.
Lopez enjoyed the festivities of Pirate Days (formerly Contraband Days) as a youngster. He remembers when one of the great festivities was the boat races.
He was able to become a member of the Buccaneers in 1999. He has been an active member, serving on the board of directors for four years. He’s considering running for another office in the future.
Lopez enjoys dressing as a pirate, and loves the reaction of the children when he gives them pirate gold and silver coins. Another plus in being a member is that when the Buccaneers perform reenactments at various organization functions, Lopez meets many people from various walks of life.
Lopez met and married his Madame Lafitte (Janice Lopez). The two have been married 37 years. Janice has been a wife, a friend and the mother to their children.
Lopez is now retired. He loves his family and would do anything for them. He’s a survivor of kidney cancer. He had his left kidney removed, and is now cancer-free, thanks to MD Anderson.
The Lopezes are planning numerous trips in their motorhome to see the US. Lopez shows a classic car when he can; he won several awards with it. Like most Cajun men, he enjoys cooking. He won a first place award for seafood gumbo and a third place in chicken and sausage gumbo during the Mardi Gras competition.
Being chosen to represent Jean Lafitte is an honor and privilege. Lopez is representing the history of the well-known areas of Southwest Louisiana and of no man’s land. Back in the day, he and his pirates would have navigated the shallow waters to Charley’s Lake (Lake Charles), where they would trade to resupply their ships and bury some of their treasure along the Contraband Bayou, where it lies to this day. In the present, the Buccaneers help promote tourism in the area and beyond. They are welcomed everywhere they travel.
May the wind fill the Buccaneers’ sails and the seas be favorable; may their chests be filled with treasure and the hold be filled with rum. Let us sail for Charley Town to capture their leader. If he does not agree to our terms, we shall make him walk the plank. Lopez sincerely hopes he can represent the Pirate Days Festival with honor.