"Fred" Baden, I
|Mayor of Pineville
Rapides Parish, Louisiana, USA
July 1, 1970 – June 30, 1998
|Preceded by||Floyd W. Smith, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Leo Deslatte|
|Pineville City Council member|
May 4, 1934|
Pineville, Louisiana, United States
|Died||December 17, 2009
|Cause of death||Complications from a fall|
|Resting place||Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana|
(1) Divorced from Patsy Nugent (later Mrs. Terrell D. Corley)
Three sons and four daughters from first marriage:
|Republican Leo Deslatte, who thereafter invited legislative auditor Dan Kyle to conduct an investigation of municipal books.|
Frederick Herman Baden, Sr. (May 4, 1934 – December 17, 2009), known as Fred Baden, was a Democratic mayor of Pineville, a small city across the Red River from Alexandria in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Baden served in the executive position from 1970 until his defeat in 1998 by the Republican Leo Deslatte.
Baden, who was of German extraction, was the only son of four children born in Pineville to Herman P. Baden (1885–1959) and Maude H. Baden (1896–1973). Baden was reared in a house located on Lakeview Street in downtown Pineville. The late Alexandria Mayor John K. Snyder, whose tenure corresponded with that of Baden in Pineville, also grew up on Lakeview Street about a block from the Baden household. "He was the mayor of Alexandria, but he spent more time in Pineville," said Baden, who recalled that while Snyder maintained an apartment in Alexandria, he spent more time at his mother's Pineville residence.
Baden dropped out of school in the eighth grade. At the age of eighteen, he became a volunteer firefighter and worked as an auxiliary police officer. Baden also became a plumber and at the age of twenty-eight attained the level of "Master Plumber". He served on the Pineville City Council from 1966 until his election as mayor in the spring of 1970.
Baden was twice married. After his divorce from the former Patsy Rhae Nugent (born August 5, 1932), he married his young secretary, the former Roxan Babb (born March 17, 1950). She is the daughter of J. D. Babb (1924-2004), a retired chief petty officer in the United States Navy and a former deputy for the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Department, and Charline Melder Babb (born c. 1931) of Glenmora in south Rapides Parish. Patsy Baden later married Terrell Dawson Corley (born May 4, 1945) of Pineville, formerly of Jena in LaSalle Parish.
Fred and Patsy Nugent Baden had four daughters, Sarah, Leah, Andrea Broussard (deceased), and Tracy, and three sons, Mark Wendell Baden (born September 17, 1953), a former sheriff's deputy; Gary Wayne Baden (born October 22, 1955), a plumber, and Tony Phillip Baden (born March 23, 1960) of Boyce. He had two sons by Roxan, Frederick H. "Freddy" Baden, II (1978-2014), and Joshua Adam Baden (born 1979).
Baden's three sisters, all deceased, were Linnie B. Murray, Louella Gatlin Bradford, and Vivian Odelia Nugent, who died in Pollock in Grant Parish in 2012 at the age of ninety-six. Another "Patsy Nugent" is the wife of Baden's cousin, Bobby E. Nugent, a son of his aunt Vivian.
Fred Baden, II
Like his father, Baden, II, was a master plumber but with a formal education. In 1996, the younger Baden graduated from Pineville High School and received a tennis scholarship to McNeese State University in Lake Charles. Thereafter, a resident of Sulphur in Calcasieu Parish, he was a youth soccer coach and a member of Lions International. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Sulphur. On March 16, 2014, he was found dead at the age of thirty-five at his home of apparent natural cause; officials immediately ruled out foul play or suicide. The younger Baden was following his father's footsteps in local politics. He was a Republican candidate for the District 4 seat on the Sulphur City Council in the municipal election scheduled for April 5, 2014. His opponent is another Republican, Joseph Harry "Randy" Favre, Jr. (born c. 1963).
Baden, II, as he sought office himself, recalled that as a child he "listened, watched and learned how city government should be open, run and influenced by the voters. My majoring in business gives me an edge into the fiscal operations of a municipality. I have a professional background in public utilities. I also come from a family with deep ties to local fire and police departments."
He is survived by his wife, Celeste Renee Baden (born c. 1980); three children, Fred Baden, III, Christian Baden, and Harlee Baden, and three step-children.
As a councilman, Baden often clashed with Mayor Floyd W. Smith, Jr., who did not seek a second term but instead ran successfully in 1970 for councilman at-large, a position that he soon vacated in order to run for the Louisiana State Senate. Smith was elected mayor in 1966, when he upset fellow Democrat P. Elmo Futrell, Jr., a Pineville real estate appraiser.
A Southern Baptist, Baden was particularly known for his opposition to the sale of alcoholic beverages in historically prohibitionist Pineville, the home of Louisiana College. He once closed Buhlow Lake in Pineville to boat races because of alcohol consumption on the premises.
During Baden's tenure, Pineville constructed a municipal center that houses City Hall, the police department, municipal court, and a central fire station located behind the complex. Pineville also built additional fire stations, a recreation center, and expanded and improved its streets. Baden and the city council worked to develop an apartment complex for the elderly located on Louisiana Highway 28 East. He and the late U.S. Representative Gillis William Long moved to purchase the former Pineville Post Office on Main Street for use as a senor citizens center. Baden, as mayor, often did free plumbing work for disadvantaged senior citizens.
Despite the improvements, the Pineville population remained relatively constant during his 28-year tenure as mayor—in the range of 12,000 to 13,000. Much of the area growth occurred outside the city limits.
Baden was an original member of the Rapides Area Planning Commission and served on the Salvation Army Board, the Louisiana College Board of Development, and the Rapides Parish Solid Waste Committee. He was also active in the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce, the Rapides Senior Citizens Board, the Renaissance Board for Youth, and Louisiana Municipal Association, of which he served three terms as vice president. Baden received the Hometown Leadership Award which recognizes elected local officials for exemplary leadership. He was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Louisiana College trustees. The Louisiana National Guard presented him with its "Commendation Award". In 2001, the Rapides Parish Police Jury [county commission in other states] appointed Baden to fill an unexpired term on the Esler Industrial Development Area Advisory Board. The appointment ended on January 8, 2006.
Baden worked with L. B. Henry of Pineville, long-term police jury president, in upgrading the infrastructure and procuring sewerage service to the outlying Wardville and Lee Heights areas. Baden and Henry also came to terms for the establishment of an animal shelter for both Pineville and the parish. Like Baden, Henry was a plumber by trade.
Among the many city council members during the Baden years was the Louisiana College psychology professor George E. Hearn, a Democrat, and Christian D. Cunningham, a Republican who defeated Hearn for reelection in 1990.
In 1989, Baden spoke out on the state level when he questioned the financial policies undertaken by Governor Buddy Roemer. At the time voters had just rejected a tax reform package submitted by Roemer. Baden said that average citizens of modest means "see waste and fat [in government]. They tell me they feel betrayed." Baden proposed that serious budget cuts be undertaken at the state level before any discussion of higher taxes be contemplated. He noted that Roemer had promised huge cuts in the education bureaucracy in the capital city of Baton Rouge which had not been implemented.
In 1974, Baden made prohibition a key issue when he won his second term by a large margin over Rapides Parish School Board member Gary K. Hays (1938–1981). Baden continued to be reelected with few obstacles in 1978, 1982, 1986, and 1990. His last victory was in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on March 26, 1994, when he polled 2,449 votes (69 percent) to 1,075 (30 percent) for Republican Chris Cunningham, and 31 votes (1 percent) for Democrat Nick Patten. Patten blamed his political difficulties on the theft of his campaign signs by Baden supporters. "It's just a terrible thing that you can't run a legitimate election in Pineville," Patten said. Baden retorted that some of his own signs had vanished as well.
In the primary held on April 4, 1998, Baden led the four-candidate field with 1,805 votes (44 percent). Republican Leo Deslatte trailed with 1,243 ballots (31 percent). A second Democrat, Barbara B. Gypin, polled 35 votes (1 percent). The "No Party" candidate, Randall Bryan "Randy" Tannehill, son of Fred Tannehill, a former Democratic member of the Louisiana State Board of Education, received 977 votes (24 percent). The last campaign was bitter. In the general election on May 2, Deslatte prevailed with 2,304 votes (53 percent) to Baden's 2,062 (47 percent). In 1999, Randy Tannehill ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in the District 27 state House election, having been defeated by the Democrat Rick L. Farrar.
Mayor Deslatte invited the Louisiana legislative auditor, Dan Kyle, a Republican, to inspect Pineville's municipal books. Kyle's office criticized the Baden administration for violations ranging from the illegal donation of thirty-one vehicles to other governmental entities as well as special leave benefits for Baden's wife, Roxan, when she became an employee in her husband's office.
Thereafter, the office of then Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, a Democrat, cleared Baden of any wrongdoing, but Dan Kyle claimed that Ieyoub had ignored critical evidence that would have found Baden guilty of malfeasance in office. However, Ieyoub reported that a lengthy investigation concluded "there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution." Baden said at the time that he knew he would be cleared of the allegations. "I felt all along that I would be cleared of these allegations. . . I never did anything wrong. We never took anything from the city that we didn't earn."
Deslatte was unable to work with the city council and resigned as mayor after less than two years into his term. He said that the political pressure was too much to make the job worth keeping. The council then appointed an African American council member, Clarence R. Fields as interim mayor to succeed Deslatte. Fields, hence the first black mayor of Pineville, was then elected to a partial term in 2000, a full term in 2002 and reelected again without opposition in 2006, 2010, and 2014. Baden announced that he would oppose Fields for the partial term in 2000 but subsequently withdrew from consideration, and George Hearn instead ran unsuccessfully for mayor that year against Fields.
Baden died at the age of seventy-five, several days after having been admitted to Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria. He was on life support as a result of a fall at his home. Services were held on December 19, 2009, at the First Baptist Church of Pineville, located across the street from Pineville City Hall. He is interred at Mt. Olivet Cemetery Pineville, also the resting place of his parents and namesake son, Fred Baden, II.
When he left the office of mayor, Baden declared himself a true public servant: "What we get out of life is what we do for others. ..."We made Pineville a city that everyone could be proud of. I would like to be remembered as a man that helped build the city that I loved. I would like to be remembered for all the accomplishments we made together as a dedicated team for the past twenty-eight years." He continued: "I never forgot that it was the people who put me there. They're the ones you listen to. They're the board of directors."
Former city council member Jack Wainwright said that Baden was known for his kindness to others and his excellent treatment of municipal employees: "I don't know of any employee that didn't like the mayor, because he was a good man." Retired school principal Robert F. Cespiva (born December 1925), a Democratic former council member for sixteen years, said that Baden "had a big heart, especially for senior citizens. ... He was color blind when it came to race."
Mayor Fields said that Baden's "prints are all over this city. He . . . cared about people and did everything he possibly could to help people. There's signs of it all over the city." Fields said that Pineville will honor Baden in "a great way" at some point in the future. He is honored with the Fred H. Baden Memorial Gateway between City Hall and Louisiana College.
On January 28, 2012, Baden, along with Adras LaBorde, managing editor of the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield. At the induction ceremony, daughter Leah Baden recalled the poem "Don't Quit", which father made her and her siblings to recite. She continued: "As a child, a lot of people thought I should receive special treatment because I was the child of a politician. My dad always told me everyone should be treated the same, with kindness and respect."
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Floyd W. Smith, Jr.
|Mayor of Pineville, Louisiana
Frederick Herman "Fred" Baden, II