Faces from the Past



Lloyd Blackwell started forestry at Tech

By James P. Barnett
Journal Correspondent

Lloyd Blackwell, a Virginia native, graduated from Lynchburg College in 1931 with a degree in history. After working with the U.S. Forest Service in several eastern states, he entered Yale University to obtain a master’s degree in forestry. While at Yale he was greatly influenced by Professor H.H. Chapman who pioneered research with southern pines at Urania, Louisiana. After his graduation in 1937, Blackwell moved to Urania to become chief forester for Urania Lumber Company. He remained in this position until he entered in the Navy during World War II.

Blackwell soon made an impact on forestry within the state. A significant ‘first’ was his organization in 1941 of the North Louisiana Group, Society of American Foresters. This was the first organized group below the region sections of the organization. He served as chair of this group most of his career. In addition to leading this proactive group to deal with issues of interest and importance to foresters, Blackwell guided the group to initiate a study on Louisiana Forest Taxation. This effort led directly to the formation of the Louisiana Forestry Association in 1946. It was no surprise that Blackwell served as the first executive director until a permanent office could be established. Also, he helped write the bylaws and organize the association Another first for Blackwell was serving as chair of the Louisiana Tree Farm Committee and in that capacity he helped formulate a program which has been cited as a model throughout the nation.

In was in 1946 that Blackwell went to Louisiana Polytechnic Institute (now Louisiana Tech University) at Ruston to organize and head a department of forestry, the position he held for 30 years. Under Blackwell’s direction, in 1955, LA Tech became the second accredited forestry school in the nation offering only undergraduate work, and the first program of its kind in the South. Endearingly called “Black” by his friends, he shaped and inspired many. He took a genuine interest in his students and the LA Tech forestry program was noted for developing and producing students ideally suited for working in forest industry. Blackwell’s successful formula included three simple points: teach them to live with people, make good citizens, and make foresters of them.

As an instructor and speaker Blackwell never tried to soften his delivery. Those who knew him acknowledged that he was opinioned and spoke frankly. He was “a fiery soul and a champion for things that he believed in.” His flair for the dramatic came from eight years of speech and drama training in high school and college. Aiding him in his speech were his arms which he used to gesture avidly. Most grew accustomed to his preaching issues he believed in like an old-time circuit rider.

Lloyd Blackwell’s contributions to the development of forestry and the people practicing forestry are innumerable. Ed Kerr speaking about him concluded, “Some people dislike him, some don’t know whether they do nor not. One thing is sure though: Everyone knows him!” None would disagree that forestry is a better profession because of the good this man has accomplished.

(Ed. Kerr and Elemore Morgan’s article in the summer 1955 issue of Forests & People was used as an resource for this article)