Former United Way head dies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2001


HAHNVILLE – Alcide Laurent, 83, who headed United Way of St. Charles for 36 years prior to his 1997 retirement, died Sunday morning. The husband of Frances Falgout Laurent for 60 years, he was the father of Susan Arcement and Karen Bradberry. In a 1997 interview with L’Observateur, Laurent, recalled his career with United Way, which ran parallel with his banking career and a long life of community service. Laurent was born in 1917 to Alcide and Laure Laurent of Taft. He was the brother of Rita Zeringue, Audrey, Ursula, Sidney, Julius, Harold, and the late Sebastian Laurent. He spent part of his boyhood living at Evergreen Plantation near Wallace, where his father was a blacksmith and where he attended a two-room school. In 1929, he began attending Hahnville High School, and graduated in 1934. At the same time, he was Boy Scout Troop 317’s first Eagle Scout and later Scoutmaster, starting a 20-year association with Scouting. One of those Boy Scouts who remained a lifelong friend was Edward A. Dufresne Jr., now a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge. “Ever since I was a kid in Boy Scouts, 9 or 10 years old,” Dufresne recalled of how long he’d known Laurent, and added, “He was always willing to help anybody, no matter what. The whole parish is going to miss him and the leadership he gave.” Laurent’s first job was as a clerk at Hahnville High and, starting in 1940, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as administrator for St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes. In 1953, Laurent joined Bank of St. Charles as a teller and rose to the position of executive vice president before his 1989 retirement. In 1961, he began working with the United Givers Fund, helping to raise $10,494 that first year for four agencies. He was named executive secretary the following year and executive director in 1979. By the time he retired, the fund-raising goal for United Way of St. Charles was $900,000 – a reflection of his growing responsibilities and flourishing abilities to inspire volunteerism and giving back to the community. Along the way, Laurent was named Citizen of the Year by the Rotary Club of St. Charles Parish in 1984, which he joined the following year and where he became a Paul Harris Fellow in 1997. Laurent helped establish the Council on Aging, worked with Associated Catholic Charities and received the Order of St. Louis Medal from the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Medal Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice from Pope Paul VI. He was a past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus and also served as a lector, educator and Eucharist minister. However, his talent for forging firm friendships will make him missed, according to his successor at United Way, George Williamson. “He was the true definition of a gentleman,” Williamson said. “He was a very unselfish, caring individual. It’s a great loss to the community.” Parish President Albert Laque, another long-time friend, added, “He was Mr. United Way’ for so many years. He’s really thought of the community as a whole, all the time. People had all the respect in the world for him.” A parishioner of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Hahnville, his service mass is set May 10 at 11 a.m., with interment at the church cemetery in Taft. He is also survived by five grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations to United Way agencies are requested by the family.