Meet the 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees
MR. RAYMOND S. BLANCO
Raymond Blanco was born and raised in Birmingham, AL. He received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from the former St. Benedict's College (now part of Benedictine College) in Atchison, KS in 1958. He served as Assistant Football Coach at Kirwin High School in Galveston, TX and Head Football Coach at Catholic High School in New Iberia, LA from 1958 until 1962. In 1962, he led the Catholic High team to win the State Championship. From 1963-1969, Blanco served as Assistant Football Coach at what was then USL under the direction of Coach Russ Faulkinberry.
In 1969, he became Dean of Men. With the merger of the offices of the Dean of Men and Dean of Women, Blanco was named as USL's Dean of Student Personnel in 1972. In 1974, he became the Chief Student Officer for the university, functioning as the Dean of Students and overseeing the operations of the entire student welfare area. As member of the University Council, he is responsible for the operations of the following areas: Student Personnel, University Police, Student Union, Counseling and Testing, International Students, Housing, Child Development Center, Career Services, Parking and Transit, One Card System, Intramurals, Student Health Services, Student Athlete Center, Physical Plant, Student Government, Campus Organizations and Student Publications. Since the fall of 1982 Mr. Blanco has served in the capacity of Vice President for Student Affairs. His duties continue.
Blanco's transition from football coach to Dean of Men came as a result of the university's need to find an administrator capable of understanding and quelling the severe student unrest which plagued USL and universities around the country in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Blanco served as the First Gentleman of Louisiana from 2004 to 2008 during the gubernatorial tenure of his wife, then-Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco. Blanco, the first man to serve as First Gentleman of Louisiana, was also nicknamed "First Coach" during his tenure in the position.
Mr. MARION D. EDWARDS
Born July 10, 1928 in Marksville, LA, Marion Edwards attended Bethany Nazarene College in Bethany, OK and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA. A devout Christian for all of his life, he is remembered for his philanthropic work and outreach to cancer victims. As a cancer survivor since 1977, he was a good shepherd, leading other cancer victims through tough times. The Marion D. Edwards Fellowship in Hepatic Oncology was created at the M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in his honor.
He is also be remembered for helping many young people acquire an education, especially in the realm of the performing arts. He and his wife Penny were closely associated with The Acadian Conservatory of Music, where he fostered many youths into the full blossom of their natural talent.
His work experience included operating a successful insurance and real estate agency, The Edwards Insurance & Real Estate Agency, from 1956 until 2011. He served as Vice President of Governmental Affairs for Freeport McMoRan, Inc. from 1983-1995, and continued as a political consultant to governmental affairs for the same company from 1995-1999. Marion also worked closely with his brother, former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, on various political campaigns.
From 1958 until 1996, Marion acted as Campaign Manager and Treasurer for 18 local, parish, district, state and national elections. In January 1984, he was mastermind and chair of the largest single fundraiser in political history with a 6-day trip to Paris, France raising $6.5 million to retire the 1983 Gubernatorial Campaign debt. He was also a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in SFO and Member of the Electoral College for Jimmy Carter.
Mr. RON GOMEZ
Son, brother, husband, father grandfather great-grandfather, LSU cheerleader, advertising and marketing professional, radio and tv broadcaster newsman, entertainer, talk show host, sports play-by-play announcer, big band singer, filmmaker, legislator, author publisher - all these and more define a true renaissance
man: Ron Gomez. A native of Baton Rouge, son of Anastasie and Lawrence, Ron Gomez grew up in the shadow of the state capitol and played on the steps of the capitol, no doubt influencing his future interest and involvement in state government. Ron attended St. Agnes elementary school, Baton Rouge High and briefly LSU before joining the U. S. Air Force.
As described in his memoir "My Name is Ron and I'm a Recovering Legislator," Ron's early career in broadcasting included covering the legislature for WAIL and WIBO radio stations. One of his most vivid memories is covering the last tumultuous term of Governor Earl K. Long and his long strange trip to involuntary commitment to a mental institution in Galveston and his controversial "release." Unlike today, there weren't that many reporters covering the capitol full-time, so Ron was able to record phone interviews with the governor who would frequently pause to inquire: "You getting that, Ronnie?"
Eventually, Ron moved to Lafayette, where he worked as a newsman at KVOL and KPEL radio stations, and briefly at KATC-TV. Ron later found his broadcast home at KPEL and proceeded to be deeply involved in the Lafayette community in various civic clubs, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the University of Southwestern Louisiana. Ron was the voice of the Ragin' Caiuns football and basketball teams for twenty years. His travel with the teams, particularly the basketball team, made Ron acutely aware of the need for a new assembly center to replace the aging Blackham Coliseum, where the games were played. For this reason, he made a new multipurpose basketball arena his top priority when he became president of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce in 1978. Part of the reason he ran for state legislature in 1979 was to shepherd the project through to completion of the facility now known as the Cajundome, with the help of the local delegation, former Senator Edgar G. Mouton and Governor Dave Treen.
Another of his major legislative achievements as Commerce Committee Chairman was passage of the critical multi-parish banking legislation which helped ensure the continued solvency of many Louisiana financial institutions in the troubled economy of the oil bust 80s. Ron also pushed for and achieved the opening of the new University Medical Center in Lafayette (formerly Charity Hospital), which was completed but remained unopened due to bureaucratic infighting. Named Rookie of the Year when first elected to the legislature, the late, fabled political observer John Maginnis once wrote that when “Gomez takes the mic, it’s drive time for the (Roemer) revolution."
Mr. PAUL HARDY
Paul Hardy was born on October 18, 1942 to his parents, Florent Hardy, Sr. and Agnes Angelle. He graduated from Cecilia High School in 1960 and from USL in 1965. While on the USL track team, he won the Gulf States Conference High Jump competition two years in a row. In 1966 he received his law degree from Loyola University and at the age of 23 began practicing law in St. Martinville for the firm of Willis and Hardy.
In 1971, he was elected Senator for the parishes of Iberia, and St. Martin. The Baton Rouge State Times named him as “Outstanding Newcomer” of the year after his first legislative session. In 1976, he was elected Secretary of State in one of the greatest upset victories in Louisiana history. As Secretary of State and because he is fluent in French, Hardy was invited to represent the United States in an international government seminar in Quebec, Canada in 1976. In 1979, Hardy ran for Governor of Louisiana. Although he carried more parishes (18) than his opponent, he barely missed the runoff by only 4% of the vote.
During 1980-1984, he served as Louisiana’s Secretary of Transportation. While there, he set a new record of $2 billion spent on highways. In 1985, Hardy assisted local entrepreneurs in the production of the full-length feature film of the Cajun movie “Belizaire the Cajun” which was filmed at Acadian Village in Lafayette. He was Associate Producer and played a bit part in the movie. Under his leadership, the movie industry’s economic impact increased by $51 million dollars after his first year as Lt. Governor. In 1987, he was elected as Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor. He led the way to enact legislation creating Tax Free Shopping, which still today gives foreigners a great incentive to visit Louisiana. In turn, this concept has resulted in a tremendous increase in state tourism-related jobs, and in 1989 alone, increased tourist spending by a record $1.2 billion.
In 1989, the award of “Man of Achievement” was presented to Hardy by the Phi Kappa Theta National Fraternal Organization. In 1991, he was presented the New Orleans World Trade Center’s highest award, “The Order of the Plimsoll.” In 2004, Hardy was inducted into the Living Legends Hall of Fame of the Acadian Museum in Erath, LA.
Hardy is an attorney and consultant, a retired banker with 45 years of service on the board of St. Martin Bank, he is a businessman and is currently President and Managing Partner of St. Agnes Healthcare in Breaux Bridge, LA. He presently resides in Baton Rouge with his wife of 53 years, Sandra “Sandi” Gayle Gatlin of Colfax, LA. Their son, Greg Hardy, is an attorney in Baton Rouge and their daughter, Yvette Hardy (Mrs. Darrell) Gross, a USL graduate, is a homemaker in Baton Rouge. Paul and Sandi have two granddaughters Heather Gayle Hardy and Jessica Yvette Gross.
the hon. EDWIN A. LOMBARD
Judge Edwin A. Lombard is a graduate of Xavier Preparatory High School. He attended Tulane University as a Rockefeller Fellow from 1964-67 and went on to attend Southern University and Loyola University Schools of Law. Judge Lombard was a Roosevelt Fellow at Loyola University School of Law, from which he graduated in 1970. He has completed the New York University Law Institute for Appellate Judges and attended the George Mason School of Law and Economics Colloquium and the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies Economic Institute for Appellate Judges.
Judge Lombard founded the African-American Congress at Tulane, which is now over 40 years old and services the needs of African American students at Tulane. Lombard was elected as Clerk of Criminal District Court in 1973, where he served as the Chief Election Officer for Orleans Parish until 2003. Judge Lombard was elected to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, where he took office in January 2003 and he is still serving.
He has been involved in elections throughout the world. Working tirelessly in the community, Judge Lombard served as President of Algiers-Fischer Community Organization, Board Member of New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation, Board Member of TOTAL Community Action Inc., and has worked with health and dental clinics in the Algiers-Fisher Community. Judge Lombard has also been involved in writing various laws and procedures in such historic events as the Dayton Peace Accord of Bosnia, the Indonesian Presidential Election and South African Local Elections.
Mr. RICHARD E. ZUSCHLAG
Richard Zuschlag is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Acadian Companies which he founded in 1971. Born in Greenville, PA, Mr. Zuschlag is a graduate of the Capitol Institute of Technology. Prior to founding Acadian in 1971, he worked for Greenville Broadcasting Company and Westinghouse Electric Company Space and Defense Center.
Mr. Zuschlag served on the Bush-Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund committee and was instrumental in developing the Lafayette parish 911 system. He was able to negotiate with the phone company the first enhanced 911 system in the state which gave the operator both the address and the phone number for persons calling for an emergency. He has served as Chairman of the Lafayette Parish Communication District, was a member of the New Orleans Business Council, Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Louisiana Hospital Association, Acadiana Safety Association, Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, 232-HELP, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association, Council for a Better Louisiana and the University of Louisiana Lafayette Foundation board of trustees and the Tiger Athletic Foundation board of directors. He is on the board of the New Cardiovascular Horizons Foundation.
He is a member of the American Ambulance Association, Brees Quarterback Club, Lafayette Civic Cup, and the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians. Mr. Zuschlag has headed fundraising efforts for the Boy Scouts, United Way, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, St. Thomas More Catholic High School, Ascension Day School, St. Pius Church, Opus Christi Magnum, The National World War II Museum and the Wounded Warrior Project. Mr. Zuschlag was named the 1980 Louisiana Businessman of the Year, 1988 Marketer of the Year and received the 1995 Golden Mike Award, 1995 Boy Scouts Distinguished Citizen Award, 1996 Lafayette Civic Cup Award, was king of 2005 Washington Mardi Gras and honored as 2005 Inc. Magazine Honorable Mention Entrepreneur of the Year. He was inducted into the Acadian Museum Hall of Fame as a Living Legend in 2005 and named as a Louisiana Legend by Louisiana Public Broadcasting in 2012.
Mr. Zuschlag received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Gulf Coast Area in 2012 and was honored by the Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation in 2014. Mr. Zuschlag was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame as Laureate and received the Ducks Unlimited inaugural state chairman's Ambassador to Conservation award in 2015. He was also the recipient of the 2016 Jewell P. Lowe Humanitarian Award presented by 232-HELP in Lafayette, Louisiana and the Community Foundation of Acadiana's 2016 Leaders in Philanthropy Corporate Award.
Richard currently resides in Lafayette with his wife, Elaine. They have three children, Richard Blair Zuschlag, Erin Elizabeth LeBlanc, and Joseph Blaise Zuschlag and nine grandchildren, Annie Elizabeth LeBlanc, Andrew Ross LeBlanc, Audrey Blake LeBlanc, Rex Emery Zuschlag, Joseph Reader Zuschlag, Adley Claire Zuschlag, Mason Brooks, Charlotte Cecile Zuschlag and Millie Beth Zuschlag.
2019 Friends of Steve Scalise Award
THE HON. CAMERON HENRY
mr. CHARLES HENRY