L. B. Henry

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Louie Brannon "L.B." Henry
Member of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, Police Jury (County Commission)
In office
1956–1960
In office
1968–1992
Succeeded by Stephen P. Bordelon
Personal details
Born (1920-11-28)November 28, 1920
Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died April 13, 2008(2008-04-13) (aged 87)
Pineville, Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Addie Mae Henry
Children Luther Manuel Henry (born 1944) of Pineville

Martha Ann Henry Peters (born ca. 1948) of Homer
Louie Rodney Henry (born ca. 1950) of Pineville

Occupation Businessman; Plumber
(1) Despite a missing forearm, Henry adapted by using the remaining limb like a hand, possible in his work as a plumber and water well driller.

(2) Despite his blue collar background, Henry was a high official in the Police Jury Association of Louisiana and the National Association of Council of Counties.

(3) Henry had a reputation of trying to be of assistance to anyone who asked for help, even having at times placed gravel on private property until compelled to stop doing so.

Louie Brannon Henry, known as L. B. Henry (November 28, 1920 – April 13, 2008),[1] was a figure in Louisiana parish government between 1956 and 1992. A businessman in Pineville, Henry served on the Rapides Parish Police Jury (equivalent to county commission in other states) from, first, 1956–1960, and, again, from 1968-1992. He was defeated for a seventh term in the jungle primary held on October 19, 1991. Henry was the jury president for thirteen years, having been elected annually by his colleagues. From 1979-1987, while he still served on the police jury, he also held the administrative post of "parish manager". In 1982, the versatile Henry, was president of the Louisiana Police Jury Association, based in Baton Rouge.[2]

Henry's police jury tenure largely corresponded with the thirty-two years that Geraldine Small "Gerri" Gerami (1924–2008) served as the police jury secretary-treasurer. She died five weeks after Henry's death.[3] One of Henry's jury colleagues, Charles W. DeWitt, Jr., was the jury vice-president from 1976–1978 and became a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1980 and ultimately served as Speaker from 2000–2004. Henry was a member too of the Pineville City Council from 1954–1956, when he stepped down in the middle of his term to join the police jury.[4]

Biography[edit]

Henry was born in Rapides Parish to Louie Manuel Henry and the former Annie Ethal Hooter.[5] He was disabled at birth because the umbilical cord wrapped around an arm. He adapted to a missing forearm by using the half-remaining limb like a hand, which proved possible in his business as a plumber. Like Henry, another Rapides Parish politician, Frederick H. Baden, Sr., who served as mayor of Pineville from 1970–1998, was also a plumber, and the two were friends for many years. Baden said that he worked with Henry to upgrade the infrastructure and procure sewerage service to the outlying Wardville and Lee Heights areas. Baden worked with Henry to establish an animal shelter for Pineville and Rapides Parish. "He loved people. He always tried to help the underprivileged," Baden said of Henry.[4]

In addition to his presidency of the state association, Henry served on the police jury executive board for seven years. He served for four years on the Transportation Steering Committee of the National Association of Counties.[5]

On October 24, 1987, in his final election to the single-member District B seat on the police jury, Henry, a Democrat, defeated the Republican Gerard Guillory (born ca. 1940) of Pineville, 2,701 votes (58.5 percent) to 1,977 (41.5 percent).[6] He was defeated for a seventh term on the jury in 1991 by fellow Democrat Stephen P. "Steve" Bordelon (born ca. 1939) of Pineville, 2,894 votes (55.47 percent) to 2,323 ballots (44.5 percent). The long tenure suddenly ended. Bordelon held the seat for four terms and did not seek reelection in the 2007 primary.[7]

Henry was a former president of the trade association, the Alexandria-Pineville Master Plumbers Association. He was a past president of the Pineville Kiwanis Club and a member of the Masonic lodge and Shriners. For ten years, he provided use of his L. B. Henry Rodeo Arena for the annual Kiwanis rodeo. Henry also dug water wells and operated his L.B. Henry Mobile Home Park on the Marksville Highway in Pineville.[8] He was a cattleman and owned horses too.[5]

Henry in perspective[edit]

At times, Henry came under scrutiny for authorizing at public expense the paving of portions of private driveways in outyling areas. Henry said that he was compelled to stop the assistance because "it is against the law to put it on private property." But he said that he thought he was doing the right thing: "My theory on it was those are poor people, and they couldn't afford to buy gravel. All I was doing was trying to help those poor people."[4]

Jack Bennett DeWitt (born 1940) of Boyce served as Rapides Parish highway superintendent and general superintendent in a career which largely paralleled the years that Henry also served. He ran unsuccessfully in 1995 for the Louisiana State Senate seat from Rapides Parish against the Reverend B.G. Dyess. In an interview with the Alexandria Daily Town, the major newspaper of Central Louisiana, DeWitt recalled how Henry would "help you, he would do it in a minute. I remember him as a leader, someone capable of working with other elected officials to get things done."[4] DeWitt was an honorary pallbearer at Henry's funeral, along with former Pineville City Council member Robert F. Cespiva.[5]

Lyn Rollins, who as a broadcast journalist covered the Rapides Parish Police Jury in the 1970s, described Henry as "a populist at heart. A little Edwin Edwards, a little Gillis Long, a little Tillie Snyder. . . . he was a very likable local politician. He was always accessible. He never dodged a question. . . . It's hard to call him progressive, but in some ways he did some progressive things."[4]

Henry was also influential in establishing one of the first parish programs to use state prison labor for local public works projects.[4]

Death[edit]

Henry died in 2008 in a nursing home in Pineville from the effects of Alzheimer's disease; he was eighty-seven. Survivors included his wife, Addie Mae Henry; two sons from Pineville, Luther Manuel Henry (born October 14, 1944) and wife, Bonnie, and Louie Rodney Henry (born ca. 1950); daughter, Martha Ann Henry Peters and husband, John R. Peters (both born ca. 1948) of Homer, the seat of Claiborne Parish in north Louisiana; sisters, Louise Henry Graef Hebert and Lorraine Deville; nine grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Russell A. Elliot (1925–2000).[9] Services were held three days later at the chapel of Hixson Brothers in Pineville. Burial was at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Ball, located north of Pineville.[5]

References[edit]

Preceded by
At-large membership
Member of Rapides Parish Police Jury (County Commission)

Louie Brannon Henry
1968–1992

Succeeded by
Stephen P. Bordelon
Preceded by
Paul K. Keller of Convent in St. James Parish
President of the Louisiana Police Jury Association

Louie Brannon Henry
1982

Succeeded by
Raymond Palmer of Leesville in Vernon Parish