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.
South Koreans defend ramen; special forces had failed to find James Foley; Vegas lures LGBT tourists and more national and international news for Thursday, August 21, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
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Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
The start of the three-day qualifying period for November’s elections has so far yielded 10 official bids and one new announcement from candidates seeking a seat on the school board.
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Candidates for Louisiana's Nov. 4 election must officially sign up for the ballot this week.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's effort to derail Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor's actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
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A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.