The aroma of fresh, warm bread fills Richard Dean Shuté’s small apartment as he lifts five loaves out of the hot oven and carefully dumps them out of their pans onto his kitchen counter.
Known as “The Bread Man” to hundreds of young men and women serving their two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this part of Louisiana, Shuté, 75, estimates he’s baked about 37,500 loaves of bread over the past 32 years.
He sorts through the cooling loaves and selects the best one for sacrament at Sunday’s service at the LDS Church and Temple on Highland Road. Then he sorts through five loaves baked earlier that day and gives one each to visiting Elders Christian Lisonbee and Nathan Lyons, both 20, to take with them. The rest along with more loaves he’ll bake throughout the week, he’ll take to Sunday services and give to visitors and friends.
Shuté cuts into another still-warm loaf and the two young missionaries spread butter on the thick slices and savor them as Shuté stands nearby, smiling.
“Brother Shuté is what we call a mission legend,” says Lyons, of Gunnison, Utah, in between bites of the sweet, wheat bread. “All the missionaries know who Brother Shuté is. He’s famous for his bread and famous for the sweaters he makes.”
When he’s not baking bread, Shuté crochets sweaters and sock hats for the young missionaries, many of whom will return to colder climates when their Louisiana stint is completed. A partially finished sweater for Lisonbee, who hails from Park City, Utah, lies on a pile of yarn nearby.
“He’s famous for being such a great guy,” Lyons says. “Brother Shuté invites us once a week to come here and eat with him. His bread is delicious. He puts a little extra sugar into it.”
“His bread is really delicious,” adds Lisonbee between bites.
Shuté smiles at the young men’s hearty appetites and kind words.
“This is just who I am,” he says. “If it were not for God and if it were not for the church, I would not have the talent.”
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.