Clyde Fant

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Clyde Edward Fant, Sr.
Mayor of Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
In office
1946–1954
Preceded by Sam Caldwell
Succeeded by James C. Gardner
Mayor of Shreveport
In office
1958–1970
Preceded by James C. Gardner
Succeeded by Calhoun Allen
Shreveport Public Utilities Commissioner
In office
1944–1946
Preceded by James Reilly
Personal details
Born (1905-10-18)October 18, 1905
Linden, Cass County, Texas, USA
Died July 6, 1973(1973-07-06) (aged 67)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Margaret Moos Fant (1909-2009)
Children 2
Alma mater East Texas Baptist University
Occupation Businessman
April 30, 1962 Holiday in Dixie Parade, Mayor Clyde Fant sitting in a 1930 Ford Model "A" Rumble Seat Roadster waiting for the parade to begin. The driver is James W Bowen.

Clyde Edward Fant, Sr. (October 18, 1905 – July 6, 1973), was a 20-year Democratic mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, having served from 1946 to 1954 and again from 1958 to 1970.

Fant was cited as "Louisiana's Mayor of the Year" in 1953 by the Louisiana Municipal Association, which he headed for three consecutive years. In 1948, with fewer than two years of mayoral experience, he had been among four mayors in the United States invited to The Hague, Netherlands, for the annual conference of the World Conference of Mayors, an occasion which rendered him national recognition. Fant's success as Shreveport's mayor was attributed to his commitment to his city, his interpersonal skills, and the approval in his first term of a $9.6 million capital improvements bond issue that set the stage for municipal growth in the post-World War II era. Shreveport was the second most populous city in Louisiana until the 1970s, when Baton Rouge surpassed it.

Early years and family[edit]

Clyde Fant was a native of Linden in Cass County, Texas. He was one of six children of Mr. and Mrs. John Preston Fant. John Fant was a cotton gin owner and a one-time Texas state legislator. Clyde Fant graduated in 1925 from the former Marshall (Texas) College, now East Texas Baptist University. He taught school for a year in Blocker, a since abandoned community near Marshall, the county seat of Harrison County. He then worked for a lumber company in East Texas and was thereafter associated with Southwestern Gas and Electric Company. He was an executive with Interstate Electric Company, with seven years of service with the firm, when he was transferred to Shreveport.[1]

Fant was married to the former Margaret Moos (1909-2009); they had two sons.[1]

Five elections as mayor[edit]

In 1944, Fant was appointed as Shreveport's public utilities commissioner by newly inaugurated Governor Jimmie Davis, who had been the Shreveport public safety commissioner from 1938 to 1942, and like Fant, a man steeped in the activities of the Southern Baptist Church. Fant succeeded commissioner James Reilly, who accepted a position with the State of Louisiana.

In 1946, Fant ran not seek a full term as utilities commissioner but as mayor, under the city's then commission form of government. Sam Caldwell, the incumbent mayor, had run unsuccessfully against Davis for governor in 1944. Fant was elected to a four-year term and reelected in 1950.

Fant did not seek a third term in 1954, and the position went to his fellow Democrat James C. Gardner. From 1954 to 1958, Fant was the president and general manager of the insurance agency, Fant, Chase, and Kline.

In 1958, Fant decided to seek a return to the mayoral position. He unseated Gardner, who was closely identified with more "progressive" politics, by a large margin in the Democratic primary. Fant pledged to lead Shreveport to greater heights in the 1960s than had already been accomplished. Fant won again in 1962, and he was unopposed for his fifth, and as it turned out final, term in 1966.

Republicans began to gain strength in Shreveport in the middle 1960s, but no Republican challenged Fant in any of his elections. A group of Republicans tried to convince then Republican Party State Chairman Charlton Lyons, to challenge Fant in 1966 but he declined after having lost races for Congress in 1961 to Joe D. Waggonner and governor in 1964 to John McKeithen. Fant did not seek a sixth term in 1970, in part because of health considerations. He was succeeded by the outgoing public utilities commissioner Calhoun Allen.

Fant served in several state appointive positions, including the Louisiana Tax Commission, the Board of Institutions, and the Overton-Red River Waterway Planning Commission.

Mayoral accomplishments[edit]

Fant was credited with maintaining racial calm in Shreveport during the late 1950s and early 1960s at the height of the civil rights movement, when a majority of the city's voters were segregationists. Fant instituted municipal programs aimed at uplifting black citizens, including slum clearance.

Under Fant, an area along the Red River was developed as the site of the Shreveport Convention Center and Civic Center complex. Clyde Fant Parkway was later named in his honor. The acclaimed R.S. Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art Center was also established when Fant was mayor but faced closure in 2014 became of financial problems. Other projects in the Fant years included the Shreveport-Barksdale Air Force Base bridge, the Jewella-Milam Street connection, the Youree Drive extension, and the Southern Avenue and Spring Street viaduct.

In 1953, Fant was selected by the LMA as "Louisiana's Mayor of the Year." The National Municipal League and Look magazine, moreover, named Shreveport as one of the nation's top eleven cities. That same year, Fant was the first individual to receive the Shreveport Advertising Club's annual award called "Shreveport's Best Ad," a designation given to an institution or a person who brought the city the most favorable publicity during the year. Fant was a past president of the Broadmoor Kiwanis International.

Fant's legacy[edit]

Fountain on Clyde Fant Parkway along Red River in Shreveport

The Clyde E. Fant Memorial Award for Community Service is given annually in honor of the late mayor. Past winners include Virginia Kilpatrick Shehee, the first woman to garner the honor, and Don Jones, the former mayor of Bossier City.

Grave of Clyde E. Fant in Shreveport's Forest Park Cemetery

Fant was a long-term member of the board of directors of Broadmoor Baptist Church and was chairman of the board for seven years. He taught a men's Bible class. He resided at 340 Ockley Drive in the Broadmoor neighborhood.[2] His papers are in the archives of Louisiana State University at Shreveport.

Fant is interred at Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport.[citation needed] His wife died in 2009 in Florida.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b John Andrew Prime (March 30, 2015). "Our History: Early Image of Clyde Fant discovered". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  2. ^ William McCleary, "The Broadmoor Neighborhood: One of Shrevport's Older Communities", North Louisiana History, Vol. XLII (Winter-Spring 2011), p. 5
  3. ^ "Margaret Fant". findagrave.com. Retrieved March 30, 2015.

Clyde Fant obituary, The Shreveport Times, July 7, 1973

Clyde Fant obituary, Shreveport Journal, July 6, 1973

Preceded by
Sam Caldwell
Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana

Clyde Edward Fant, Sr.
1946–1954

Succeeded by
James C. Gardner
Preceded by
James C. Gardner
Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana

Clyde Edward Fant, Sr.
1958–1970

Succeeded by
Calhoun Allen
Preceded by
Leo J. Bulliard
President of the Louisiana Municipal Association

Clyde Edward Fant
1952–1954

Succeeded by
Armand Viator