I lost a dear friend, too. Some people may be surprised to learn that our friendship began decades before Alfred led the university's first major fund-raiser. My wife Barbara was employed in the oil business by Cornell Inc. in 1957, and we went to various functions where oil men were present. Alfred was particularly involved in the Petroleum Club, and we met there.
Lafayette citizens probably will recognize the often-recounted story of how I asked Alfred in 1981 to help raise money for a $1 million endowment. At the time, the university had about $400,000 to invest. We were hoping he could help raise another $600,000. That $1 million would be invested; only the earned interest would be used by the university.
Alfred turned me down. The only way he would agree to lead the fund drive was if his goal was serious money ' say $10 million. Raising $600,000 was too much work, he explained. It was easier to get a few donors to donate large sums than to get many donors to contribute smaller amounts. That anecdote says so much about Alfred Lamson. He was generous, fearless, confident.
The significance of the sense of financial security that the $10 million endowment provided in the financially tumultuous 1980s can't be overstated. But the messages that Alfred sent by leading the campaign were more valuable.
By raising the stakes of the fund-raiser, he taught us to think big and to dream big dreams. Today, UL Lafayette has about $120 million in gifted assets. Without Alfred's leadership, that would not have happened.
He was also charismatic. His keen business mind, infectious enthusiasm and his sense of humor enabled him to persuade people to see his point of view.
It helped that he was a raconteur of the highest order. One day, Alfred and I were meeting with some potential donors in Houston. The meeting didn't seem to be going well. But then he smoothly slipped into his storytelling mode, and the atmosphere began to change. The businessmen were captivated by his humor and enthusiasm. When we left that meeting, we had solid commitments of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the university.
I was always amazed that Alfred could ask for money in so many ways. One day, he phoned me to ask if Barbara could plan to have coffee and pastries for a little gathering at our home on a particular afternoon. He said he wanted to invite some bankers and to get them to give money to the university.
So, a group of bankers gathered in our living room one afternoon. I did not know until later that Alfred had done some homework. He had spoken with B.I. Moody III at First National Bank; FNB had then pledged to donate $250,000 to USL.
Alfred made that announcement at this gathering. He then turned to the president of Guaranty Bank and said, "You're always saying that your bank is twice as big and twice as good as First National Bank. You need to give $500,000."
Throughout our friendship, Alfred was always there to help the university in any way he could. He never asked for anything in return.
One of the greatest loves of his life was the Lady Cajuns softball program. He was smitten the first time he went to a game, which was about 15 years ago. He and his late wife, Helen, later paid for construction of locker rooms at Lady Cajun Park, traveled to the College World Series to cheer for the team and promoted Cajun softball any way they could.
I plan to rename Lady Cajun Park in honor of Alfred and Helen.
It's the least I can do for a friend whom I will miss more than I can say. There will probably never be a bigger fan of the softball team or the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
- Dr. Ray Authement is the president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.