Claude Kirkpatrick

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Claude Kirkpatrick
Louisiana State Representative for Jefferson Davis Parish
In office
Preceded by Marion Vallee
Succeeded by Norman L. Ordoneaux
Louisiana Director of Public Works
In office
Preceded by Lorris M. Wimberly
Succeeded by Leon J. Gary, Sr.
Personal details
Born (1917-06-17)June 17, 1917
Glenmora, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died January 14, 1997(1997-01-14) (aged 79)
Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Edith K. Kirkpatrick
(married 1938-1997, his death)
Relations P. Elmo Futrell, Jr. (son's father-in-law)

Claude Kent Kirkpatrick (1942-1945)
Thomas Killgore Kirkpatrick, I (1944-2009)
Edith Kay Kirkpatrick

Charles Kris Kirkpatrick
Occupation Businessman
Religion Southern Baptist

(1) Kilpatrick graduated from Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville and was a strong supporter of Southern Baptist institutions and outreach.

(2) Kirkpatrick and his wife operated four businesses in Jennings while he served eight years in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

(3) Kirkpatrick was rewarded for his support of Jimmie Davis for governor in 1960 with appointment as Director of Public Works.

(4) As DPW director, Kirkpatrick worked to establish Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Sabine River, a project completed in 1966 and shared by Louisiana and Texas.

(5) Kirkpatrick from 1967 to 1982 was administrator and then president of Baton Rouge General Medical Center.

(6) In his later years, Kirkpatrick built three shopping centers in Baton Rouge.

Claude Kirkpatrick (June 17, 1917 – January 14, 1997)[1] was a diversified businessman who served two terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives (1952 to 1960), worked to establish Toledo Bend Reservoir through his directorship of the state Department of Public Works (1960 to 1964), and was the administrator and then president of Baton Rouge General Medical Center (1967 to 1982). Kirkpatrick ran unsuccessfully for governor in the 1963 Democratic gubernatorial primary. In his later years, he built three shopping centers in Baton Rouge. He was also active in various state and national organizations of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Early years, education, family[edit]

Kirkpatrick (no middle name) was born in Glenmora in south Rapides Parish, Louisiana, to Eugene Kirkpatrick (died 1956) and the former Arlie Gill (died 1981). The senior Kirkpatrick operated a sawmill in Glenmora and then, when Claude was six years of age, relocated to Lake Charles, the seat of Calcasieu Parish in southwestern Louisiana. He was a tie inspector servicing the Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas area for Southern Pacific Railroad. Claude attended public schools there and graduated in 1934 from Lake Charles High School.[2]

He then enrolled at Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville and in 1938 received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.[3] There, Kirkpatrick met his future wife, the former Edith Aurelia Killgore (born November 14, 1918) of Lisbon in Claiborne Parish in north Louisiana. They married in 1938 after both graduated from college.[2]

Prior to and during World War II, Kirkpatrick worked in petroleum production in Sulphur in Calcasieu Parish. He twice volunteered for military service but was told to remain in an essential war-related industry. In 1945, the couple moved to Jennings, the seat of Jeff Davis Parish. There, they operated four businesses: a DeSoto-Plymouth automobile dealership, a lumber company, a trucking firm, and a sporting goods store. The Kirkpatricks had four children: Claude Kent Kirkpatrick (1942–1945), Thomas Killgore Kirkpatrick, I (August 19, 1944 – October 13, 2009),[4] Edith Kay Kirkpatrick (born 1946), and Charles Kris Kirkpatrick (born 1948). Both surviving children are attorneys in Baton Rouge.[2]

Colonel Thomas Kilgore Kirkpatrick (son of Claude Kirkpatrick); an attorney who received a Juris Doctor degree from Louisiana State University, began a 30-year military service in 1969 as a private in the United States Army. He obtained a commission in the Judge Advocate General's Corps and served four years on active duty, having reached the rank of captain. He joined the Louisiana National Guard in 1975 and served as a military judge, state judge advocate, and retired commander of the 61st Troop Command. Kirkpatrick also served as general scounsel of the National Guard Association of the United States. His many military citations included Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with two Bronze Oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze service star, and the Vietnam Service Medal. After retiring from the private practice of law in Baton Rouge, Kirkpatrick assumed the director's position with the National Guard's Youth Challenge program. His final government service was as general counsel for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Under Governor Kathleen Blanco, he was named the state coordinating officer and alternate Governor's authorized representative for the relief of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thomas Kirkpatrick, who died of cancer at the age of sixty-five, was married to the former Sandra Futrell of Pineville and was the father of three children, Sandra Karen Kirkpatrick (1969-2011), Thomas Kirkpatrick, II, and Mildred Kathleen Kirkpatrick.[4] Sandra Kirkpatrick's father was P. Elmo Futrell, Jr., the mayor of Pineville in the early 1960s and a prominent Baptist layman.[5]

Political activities[edit]

In 1952, Kirkpatrick unseated State Representative Marion Vallee (1910–1997)[6] of Jeff Davis Parish in the Democratic primary. He served his first term during the administration of Governor Robert F. Kennon, who in 1963 would be a gubernatorial opponent of Kirkpatrick. In 1956, he again defeated Vallee, who attempted a failed comeback bid. Kirkpatrick did not run for a third legislative term in 1960 and was succeeded by Norman L. Ordoneaux.[7]

In the gubernatorial primaries held between December 1959 and January 1960, the Kirkpatricks worked actively in southwest Louisiana for former Governor Jimmie Davis, who defeated the mayor of New Orleans, deLesseps Story Morrison, Sr., in a hotly contested party runoff election. Davis asked Kirkpatrick to serve as his Director of Public Works to succeed Lorris M. Wimberly of Arcadia, the seat of Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, who had once been Speaker of the Louisiana House. As head of DPW, Kirkpatrick was also chairman of the Red River Authority and the Sabine River Authority. He worked with the State of Texas and without federal funds to establish the popular Toledo Bend Reservoir, a popular destination for fishing and boating on the Louisiana-Texas boundary. The project, which emphasizes conservation and stewardship of natural resources, was completed in 1966, two years after Kirkpatrick had left DPW.[3] State Representative Cliff Ammons of Many, the seat of Sabine Parish, pushed to passage the bill to create Toledo Bend and the constitutional amendment to provide for its funding.[8]

In the summer of 1960, Kirkpatrick was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, which nominated the Kennedy-Johnson ticket, an easy winner of the ten electoral votes in Louisiana.[9] Kirkpatrick was Democrat for the rest of his life even as his state developed a two-party system. Political records show that he donated in 1979 to the last campaign of U.S. Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana.[10]

In 1963, Kirkpatrick ran for governor as an "independent" within the Democratic primary, meaning that he was not affiliated with any particular faction of the party though he had been on close terms with outgoing Governor Davis.[11] He polled only 28,578 votes (3.2 percent), seventh in a ten-candidate field.[12] To head DPW, the new governor, John McKeithen, formerly a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, named Leon J. Gary, Sr., a former mayor of Houma in Terrebonne Parish[9]

Later years and legacy[edit]

Kirkpatrick left the political arena and became associated with Allied Chemical and Superior Oil companies. On August 14, 1967, the trustees of Baptist-affiliated Baton Rouge General Hospital named Kirkpatrick as hospital administrator.[13] He was elevated to president of the hospital in 1970 and served in that capacity until 1981. Dr. Charles Prosser, a fellow hospital director and friend of Kirkpatrick's, recalled him as "a man of many talents and a most affable fellow who got things done by impressing people with their importance and worth. He ... did a splendid job ... and that says a lot about him as a person."[14]

Similarly, Tom Sawyer, later the chief executive officer of the hospital, described Krkpatrick as "very compassionate [with] a great empathy for people, and he really loved hispital work. ... He viewed his job as more of a ministry than a job. That was the kind of outlook he had on things."[14]

After leaving the hospital position, Kirkpatrick established three shopping centers in Baton Rouge: Delmont, Highland Road, and Drusilla. Over the years, Kirkpatrick was Southwest Louisiana vice president of the Calcasieu Area Boy Scouts. He was active in the United Way charitable fund, the Kiwanis Club, and the American Heart Association.[13] He was a deacon in several Baptist churches for fifty-eight years, his last membership having been at First Baptist in Baton Rouge. He and Mrs. Kirkpatrick were active in all aspects of Baptist church governance and outreach. He was a past chairman and member of the Louisiana College board of directors. He served on the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board. In Baton Rouge, he was the first president of the Federation of Churches and Synagogues as well as a charter member there of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick studied for a time at the Juilliard School in New York City and much later obtained a Master of Arts degree in music from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. At times, she taught voice music at both LSU and McNeese State University in Lake Charles. At the invitation of Governor Edwin Washington Edwards, she served from 1977 to 1989 on the Louisiana Board of Regents, a panel created by the Louisiana State Constitution of 1974 to govern public higher education institutions.[2]

During the 1963 gubernatorial campaign, Mrs. Kirkpatrick published a 38-page song book entitled Louisiana Let's Sing, a collection of favorite songs ranging from The Star-Spangled Banner to Jingle Bells compiled especially for her husband.[15]

Kirkpatrick died in the Baton Rouge General Hospital that he had once managed, having earlier underwent five heart bypasses. He is interred in Green Oaks Memorial Park in Baton Rouge. In addition to his wife and three living children, Kirkpatrick was survived by a brother, G. Truett Kirkpatrick (1921–2007) of Lake Charles, and five grandchildren. Another brother, Augustus C. Kirkpatrick (1914–1996)[1] of Lake Charles was the former Calcasieu Parish assessor. After Kirkpatrick's death, Mrs. Kirkpatrick deposited her husband's papers on request at McNeese State University.


  1. ^ a b Social Security Death Index:
  2. ^ a b c d Statement of Edith Killgore Kirkpatrick, September 8, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Baptist Message newspaper:
  4. ^ a b "Obituary of Colonel Thomas Killgore Kirkpatrick". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved October 15, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Services set for former Pineville Mayor Futrell", Alexandria Daily Town Talk[, December 6, 1993, p. D-3
  6. ^ Social Security Death Index
  7. ^ Louisiana House of Representatives, Historical Membership, 1880-2008
  8. ^ "Ammons, Cliff". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography ( Retrieved December 24, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Political Graveyard on Internet:
  10. ^ Campaign contributions list from Louisiana on Internet Archived July 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ William C. Havard, Rudolf Heberle, and Perry H. Howard, The Louisiana Elections of 1960, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Studies, 1963, p. 99
  12. ^ Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, 1963 Democratic primary
  13. ^ a b Baton Rouge Biography on Internet:,+Claude
  14. ^ a b "State official, civic leader Claude Kirkpatrick dies at 79", Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, January 15, 1997, p. 7A
  15. ^ Edith Killgore Kilpatrick, Louisiana Let's Sing, 1963:
Preceded by
Marion Vallee
Louisiana State Representative from Jefferson Davis Parish

Claude Kirkpatrick

Succeeded by
Norman L. Ordoneaux
Preceded by
Lorris M. Wimberly
Director of Louisiana Department of Public Works

Claude Kirkpatrick

Succeeded by
Leon J. Gary, Sr.