Lether Frazar

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Lether Frazar
Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana
In office
1956–1960
Preceded by C.E. "Cap" Barham
Succeeded by Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock
Louisiana State Representative from Beauregard Parish
In office
1936–1940
Personal details
Born Lether Edward Frazar
(1904-12-01)December 1, 1904
DeRidder, Beauregard Parish, Louisiana, US
Died May 15, 1960(1960-05-15) (aged 55)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lily Hooper Frazar (1904–1994)
Children Lily Ann Frazar
Margaret Brenda Frazar Malone
Occupation Educator; College president

Lether Edward Frazar (December 1, 1904 – May 15, 1960) was the Democratic lieutenant governor of Louisiana under Governor Earl Kemp Long from 1956–1960, who had earlier, as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Beauregard Parish, authored the state teacher retirement law. Frazar was also the fourth president of McNeese State University (then McNeese State College) in Lake Charles. He served at McNeese from 1944–1955, when he resigned to prepare to become lieutenant governor. He was also the second president of his alma mater, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana Institute), having served from 1938-1941.

Early years, education, family[edit]

Frazar was born in DeRidder, the seat of Beauregard Parish, to Moses Edward Frazar and the former Letha Perkins. Mrs. Frazar died when Lether (named for his mother) was twelve days old. Moses Frazar then married the former Nina May Bland in 1906. There were two children from the second marriage, Lether Frazar's half-siblings, Marvin Edward Frazar and Ruby Frazar Harrison.

Lether Frazar was a nephew by marriage—his maternal aunt was Ellen Perkins Herford — to Drew Dow Herford, a Texas native who was the first teacher, mayor, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from DeQuincy in northern Calcasieu Parish. Frazar spent many summers during his childhood at the home of the Herfords.

Frazar was educated at the then Southwestern Institute in Lafayette having received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1928. He obtained a Master of Arts from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in 1932. He also obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York City in 1942.

On August 22, 1929, Frazar married the former Lily Hooper (December 12, 1904 – November 5, 1994), who was living in Baton Rouge at the time of her death. She graduated in 1926 from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish. At the time, Tech was known as Louisiana Polytechnic Institute. The Frazars had two daughters, Lily Ann Frazar and Margaret Brenda Frazar Malone (born 1941) of Baton Rouge.

Frazar was a high school principal at Longville (1928–1931) and Merryville from 1933–1938, both in Beauregard Parish. From 1931–1933, he was a principal in Jackson in East Feliciana Parish.

Legislative service and OPA[edit]

Frazar was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1936 and served one term until 1940. In addition to his leadership in the adoption of the Louisiana teacher retirement law, Frazar worked for the establishment of the T. H. Harris scholarship foundation, named for his friend, the Louisiana superintendent of education from 1908-1940.

During the time that he completed his graduate studies at Columbia, he was also employed in Washington, D.C., by the new Office of Price Administration, one of the World War II federal agencies. Future U.S. Vice President Richard M. Nixon of California also worked for the OPA at the time that Frazar was an agency officer. In 1942, Frazar assumed the position of Louisiana director of the OPA.

President of two colleges[edit]

In 1944, after he lost a statewide race to John E. Coxe for Louisiana superintendent of education,[1] Frazar was named the McNeese College president in Lake Charles, the seat of Calcasieu Parish. Technically, he was the first president of the institution because his three predecessors were known as "deans", not presidents. Under his leadership, many new buildings and programs were established on the campus of what had originally been Lake Charles Junior College, which had opened its doors in 1939.

Frazar left McNeese when he was elected lieutenant governor. He unseated incumbent fellow Democrat C. E. "Cap" Barham of Ruston in the party primary, 327,679 votes (44.9 percent) to 195,616 (26.8 percent). Frazar won the position without a majority because at the time Louisiana did not require Democratic runoff primaries if there was also no contested primary election for governor at the same time. Because Earl Long had won his nomination outright in the gubernatorial primary, Long's ticket-mate Frazar avoided a second race. Another lieutenant governor candidate was A. Brown Moore, a 1934 Tulane Law School graduate who had fought under General George S. Patton in World War II, was a former member of the New Orleans City Council, and carried the endorsement of the third-place gubernatorial candidate, Fred Preaus of Farmerville in north Louisiana.[2] Frazar then overwhelmed his Republican opponent, Harry R. Hill, in the general election held in the spring of 1956. Hill was the only candidate offered by the Louisiana GOP in the statewide races that year. Months later, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first Republican candidate to win in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

Frazar came to McNeese with three years experience as the president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then Southwestern Institute.

Earl Long loyalist[edit]

As lieutenant governor, Frazar was known for his steadfast loyalty to Earl Long. Barham, however, had often quarreled with certain policies of Governor Robert F. Kennon and had established the office of lieutenant governor independently of the governor.

In the-late summer of 1959, Long actually considered resigning as governor, a move which would have made Frazar the Louisiana chief executive for some seven months. Under the scenario, Long would then run for governor himself in the December 1959 Democratic primary and thereby avoid Louisiana's ban (at the time) on governors succeeding themselves.

Frazar did not seek a second term as lieutenant governor in the 1959 Democratic primary. Instead Long ran to succeed Frazar as lieutenant governor, but he fell far short of primary victory. Long ran on an intraparty "ticket" with former Governor James Albert Noe, Sr., with whom Long had once quarreled.

On one occasion as acting governor when Long was out of the state, Frazar signed death warrants for two New Orleans blacks, Edgar Labat and Clifton Poret, who were on Death Row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola in West Feliciana Parish for the aggravated rape of a white woman on November 12, 1950. They were scheduled to have been executed on September 20, 1957. The executions were never implemented—the night before the new court-appointed attorneys for the men obtained a stay of execution from a federal judge. The men declared their innocence, and their cases remained in the federal courts until Louisiana stopped executions between 1961 and 1983.

Frazar died the same month that Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock of Franklin, the seat of St. Mary Parish, a conservative Democrat succeeded him as lieutenant governor. Some four months later, Earl Long himself was dead after having won the Democratic nomination in the now defunct Eighth Congressional District.

Frazar's legacy[edit]

Frazar was Methodist. He was a member of the Southern Regional Education Board, National Education Association, the Kiwanis Club and its Blue Key organization, Pi Sigma, Alpha Sigma Phi, the Masonic lodge, and the Shriners.

Lether and Lily Frazar are interred in Woodlawn Cemetery in his native DeRidder.

McNeese State University honored Frazar through the naming of its Lether Edward Frazar Memorial Library. The Frazar Collection, including his correspondence from 1935–1959 is housed at McNeese. There is also a Lether E. Frazer Memorial Trophy given annually to the outstanding offensive football player for the McNeese University Cowboys.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Davis Ticket Scores Political Win Defeating Old Regular Candidates," Minden Herald, Minden, Louisiana, March 3, 1944, p. 1
  2. ^ Numan V. Bartley and Hugh D. Graham, Southern Elections: County and Precinct Data, 1950–1972, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978, p. 122

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
C. E. "Cap" Barham
Lieutenant Governors of Louisiana
1956–1960
Succeeded by
Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock
Preceded by
Dr. Rodney Cline (1941–1944)
President of McNeese State University (previously McNeese State College) in Lake Charles, Louisiana)
1944–1955
Succeeded by
Dr. Wayne N. Cusic (1955–1969)
Preceded by
Edwin Lewis Stephens
President of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (previously Southwestern Louisiana Institute)
1938–1941
Succeeded by
Joel L. Fletcher