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.
Black Friday shopping begins; Pope visiting Turkey; oil prices decline and more national and international news for Friday, November 28, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.