Political Hall of Fame induction in Winnfield will honor eight

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

The 2004 Louisiana Political Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet will be held on Saturday, January 31 at the Family Life Center of the First United Methodist Church in Winnfield, Louisiana.

This year's new members include William "Billy" Boles, Sr., Charles DeWitt, Sr., Dudley Guglielmo, Sr., Doris Holland (Rhodes), Moon Landrieu, Edgar "Sonny" Mouton, Jr., Edmund Reggie, Virginia Shehee, and Jack Wardlaw.

Entertainment for the event will be provided by the "Jimmie Davis" Band. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., wine and cheese will be served at the Louisiana Political Museum on Main Street in Winnfield. The banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center near the Church at 300 Main Street.

Tickets are available at $30 per person. For more information, contact the Louisiana Political Museum at 318-628-5928.

Members of the 2004 class of Hall of Fame inductees are from across the entire scope of Louisiana politics. Two of the inductees have never held elected offices, although one was a "king-maker" while the other non-politician is considered the "dean" of Louisiana political journalists.

Only one of this year's inductees is still active in politics, and as of January 1, 2004, he was still Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representative. Another inductee, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, is the father of current U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.

Dudley A. Guglielmo, longtime retired Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance and a protegé of Earl K. Long, also holds the distinction of being the only living former Commissioner of Insurance who did not receive a prison sentence.

Two of the other 2004 inductees were powerhouses in the Louisiana State Senate in their heydays, William R. "Billy" Boles of Monroe of Monroe and Edgar "Sonny" Mouton of Lafayette who once ran for Governor.

Two Louisiana Ladies grace the induction list, former State Senator Virginia K. Shehee of Shreveport, and Doris Lindsey Holland Rhodes who will be inducted posthumously.

Doris Lindsey Holland Rhodes, from Greensburg in St. Helena Parish holds the distinction of being the first female to serve in the Louisiana State Senate and also of being the first elected female State Representative.

On the other hand, Virginia K. Shehee was the first elected female Louisiana State Senator. Virginia Kilpatrick Shehee, who is still CEO of Kilpatrick Insurance Company, a family business for several generations, learned her politics from the master himself, Jimmie Davis.

Former Governor and singing legend Jimmie Davis was a good friend of Mrs. Shehee's father and often visited her father's home in Shreveport. In later years, Mrs. Shehee was very active in the Jimmie Davis birthday celebrations when Davis was in his late 90's and when he hit the century mark.

The political "kingmaker" in the class of 2004 inductees is Edmund Reggie who is credited along with former Judge Kalliste Saloom of Lafayette with persuading former Crowley attorney Edwin W. Edwards to give up his ten year seat on the Crowley City Council and seek state and federal level office. Edmund Reggie was also Louisiana's most prominent John F. Kennedy supporter when the then U.S. Senator from Massachusetts ran for President in 1960.

Ironically, Edmund Reggie is now the father-in-law of former President John F. Kennedy's youngest brother, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy. Reggie first became acquainted with the legendary Kennedy political clan when he arranged for then U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy to be the featured celebrity attraction at the 1956 Crowley Rice Festival.

The "dean" of Louisiana political journalists is Jack Wardlaw, who was a long time fixture at the news bureau offices in the bottom floor of the Louisiana State Capital. He reported on the "shenanigans" of Earl K. Long in the late 1950's, the second administration of Governor Jimmie Davis, the political era of big John McKeithen, the rise to power of Edwin Edwards and his descent which was interspersed with the brief interlude of both Dave Treen and Buddy Roemer serving as Governor of Louisiana. And Wardlaw was actively writing news articles and columns in Baton Rouge when Mike Foster was Senator Foster from St. Mary Parish before he began his march on the Governor's office in 1995.

In keeping with tradition, the 2004 Hall of Fame ceremony will honor two people as "Friends of Earl K. Long." Robert Gentry, longtime editor and publisher of the Sabine Index in Many, Louisiana, will be one of those receiving this award. Gentry was also Earl K. Longs' PR man during "The Earl's" last campaign when he was elected 8th District Congressman.

Gentry in 1960 was a student at Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, Louisiana when he worked with Earl K. Long in the Congressional campaign, often having to hitchhike rides to catch up with the Long caravan at the first rally of the weekend.

The other "Friend of Earl" recipient is from Arkansas. David Pryor, himself a longtime power in Arkansas politics serving as both Governor and U.S. Senator, was a friend of both Earl K. Long and his nephew, Louisiana U. S. Senator Russell B. Long with whom he served with in the Senate.

The Louisiana Young Career Politician's Award which will be presented on Hall of Fame induction night in January, goes to a young man from Vermillion parish. Although, only 24, Robert B. Vincent has been an elected official for five years.

However, several times during the induction banquet event the spotlight will be on none other than Theodore "Ted" Jones of Baton Rouge and Washington, D. C. Ted heads up the Jimmie Davis Band which will provide the entertainment for the night of January 31, 2004 festivities.

Although Jones played music for Jimmie Davis for many years and did some politicking for Earl K. Long, in his other career, Jones is a highly respected and well paid governmental affairs attorney operating both in Baton Rouge and Washington, D. C.

The early 2003 "Louisiana political rumor mill" had Ted Jones seriously considering following his mentor, Governor Jimmie Davis, footsteps in a run for the Governor's Mansion which Davis built in 1964. However, that same political rumor mill finally said that Jones was scrapping his plans to run because he could not afford to take such a drastic reduction in pay.

Anyway, January 31, 2004 sounds like it will be a festive night in dear old Winnfield with plenty of political "speaking" and the Jimmie Davis Band picking and singing with Ted Jones singing "You Are My Sunshine" between his authentic renditions of "Ole Earl" giving a stump speech.