Municipality you currently live in
How long have you been on the Board of Directors?
I served two terms on the Board of Directors as Crowley Chamber of Commerce, and first term as Acadia Parish Chamber after the merger with One Acadia.
Who is your employer and title? What are your responsibilities/duties?
I am a retired health care executive, having had early years advancing to CEO of a hospital system and later years (24) as a senior VP and regional President of an alliance of 30 hospitals and health care systems in Florida and Alabama based in Tampa, FL. Our regional team of 30 included physicians, nurses, analysts, and other professionals focused on quality metrics, financial improvement, and group purchasing — a regional annual $7 Billion volume.
Currently, I devote time to managing some remaining family properties, primarily the tract for sale on VFW road, back behind Burger King.
What inspired you to be involved with the Acadia Chamber?
My love of Crowley and Acadia Parish, and desire to “give back” after a professional life where little time was available for civic and social activities.
What is the most rewarding thing you have taken from this experience?
The relationships with like-minded individuals who are devoting time and attention to the improvement of our cities and parish.
What is one thing about APCC that you think most people don’t know?
Most people likely know the behind the scenes time and attention the Acadia Parish Chamber is giving to economic development. They think of the Chamber as the events– Ribbon Cuttings, Gumbo Cookoff, Annual Meeting, After Hours Socials, etc. Most don’t realize the resources available to existing small businesses and prospective startups by simply making inquiries to our staff. Economic development is more of a long marathon, rather than a sprint. Chamber staff and board representation at broader organizations and events, like those of other Acadiana parishes and state and national meetings of similar-sized organizations, enables sharing of ideas and projects that will ultimately lead to economic growth in our area, creating businesses, jobs, and taxes that will contribute to community improvement.
What excites you about the future of APCC and/or Acadia Parish community?
I am excited when I thinking how my city, other towns, and the parish can grow and improve, preventing kids like I once was from having to leave after high school to pursue our dreams of success. After my college and graduate degrees, there was just no opportunity to come home to. We need to create those opportunities by growing businesses and industries like other southern states — Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina. There is so much good in Louisiana, and in our Parish — especially agriculture, also access to the Interstate and railways. But there are such negatives in the state — our education system, crime statistics, road infrastructure, reputation for corporate litigation, and others — just look at any statistics and we come out at the bottom. We must all get excited about the potential for change.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your APCC membership?
Besides building relationships, learning more about what it takes to foster community improvement, both parish-wide and state-wide has been enlightening for me. As a “senior” board member in age and experience, it is so gratifying to see the motivation of the younger professionals on the APCC board who truly care for this Parish and want to enjoy a better lifestyle for theirs’ and the generations to come.
What do you like to do when you’re not working or have free time?
I have loved travel, and have been blessed to be able to go on a number of cruises and spend time on the road in an RV. Now our travel is mostly limited to visiting kids and grandkids in Texas and Tennessee, with an occasional trip beyond. A favorite spot is Key West, and I like to spend at least a week each year there to remember that there is clear water outside of Louisiana.
Having grown up in Crowley, and returned 9 years ago, we are quite comfortable staying home. Patti and I are involved in our Methodist Church and serve on various local boards and civic organizations. I recently completed two three-year terms on the Opera House Board, and am currently on the Rotary Board of Directors. While I have no political aspirations, I like to stay abreast of what is going on in political circles, and can often be found visiting with politicians or showing up at City Council or Police Jury meetings. As for hobbies, I must confess that binging on Netflix series’ for several hours at a time happens at least a couple of times a week. I also love music and, in my younger years, singing.
What is your favorite thing to do in Acadia Parish?
Patti and I love boiled Crawfish and gumbo, so my favorite thing is the food, with music a close second.! Also, another of my favorite things to do is to drive around and just explore country roads with my little dog, Demi Tase, having her head out the window. I find beauty in the rice fields, the bayous, the woods, and the cow pastures. And she especially likes to bark at the cows.
Tell us an interesting fact about you
My roots go back to early Acadia Parish history. WW Duson, along with his brother CC, is known as the founder of Crowley, Eunice, Iota, and even Mamou. WW Duson was my great grandfather, and my current home is the house I grew up in from 1945 at birth to 1963 when I graduated from Crowley High. The house was the wedding gift to WW’s first daughter Mayme, my grandmother, in 1906. (My parents moved in with her and raised their children here when her husband met an early demise.) It is easy to see why the history of Acadia Parish, and even more so the future of the parish is of paramount importance to me.
Words/quote/book you live by?
The Bible, the New Testament, specifically, the Golden Rule.