PEOPLE THAT BUILT OUR STATE AND OUR COUNTRY – BOB KENNON

Posted: June 18, 2017 in Uncategorized
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Louisiana has been known for its’ flamboyant politicians.  Long, Edwards. Leche and many other names conger up memories of politicians that you either loved or hated.  Politicians that in many cases received bad publicity from the national press and thus put a blemish on the political landscape of Louisiana.  I remember looking at a national publication on the news rack in our commissary in Saudi Arabia.  In broad headlines on the cover of the magazine was “Louisiana, America’s Banana Republic”.  My blood boiled until I got home that night.

As bad as some make Louisiana look, it has had its’ share of good politicians that have the best interest of Louisiana and America at heart.  Politicians that have few or no black marks against them an.  Since they are good guys the sensationalism is not there and thus the press ignores them.  One of these men that dedicated his life to public service was Bob Kennon.

Kennon was born in Dubberly, near Minden, in Webster Parish.  He enjoyed the outdoors and was active in Boy Scouts where he obtained his Eagle Scout rank.  After graduating from High School he entered LSU.  His freshman year he received the award for the best academic record.  His organizational ability and leadership skills were apparent by the time he graduated from LSU.

Kennon was on the debate team and wrote for the campus paper.  Academics was not his only achievements.  He was Captain of his Reserve Officer Training Corps and was vice president of the Interfraternity Council.  He won a letter for playing center on the LSU football team.  LSU had no tennis team so Kennon help to organize the tennis team and was one of the first two players to letter in the sport at the university.

At 23 he became the mayor of Minden and for a period of time was the youngest mayor in the United States.  He did not run for re-election but instead was elected district attorney in 1930.  He remained in office for ten years until   By 1940 he had risen to Colonel in the Louisiana Army National Guard.  He had also run for and was elected Circuit Judge the same year.  It was normal to wait a year to move into a judgeship after an election.  Soon after Kennon took office, World War II drew America into the conflict and Kennon’s XIII Corp of the 9th Army was called to service.  He did not shirk his responsibility and took his unit to war.

When he returned from WWII he assumed his role as Judge.  Then in 1948 he ran for governor but was defeated by the infamous Earl Long.  Four years Kennon was victorious and became the 48th governor of Louisiana.  Following his successful run for governor, Governor Kennon appointed Farmerville businessman Fred Preaus  at his Highway Director and later backed him for the 1956 gubernatorial race.

Kennon died in 1988 and Bill Dodd, an opponent in several campaigns wrote an eulogy in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.  Part of the article read:

Governor Kennon was never tried and acquitted of wrongdoing because he didn’t break the law or do anything suggesting he ever acted illegally or even unethically. He never spent any time with AA or in a CDU for he didn’t drink alcohol and didn’t snort cocaine. And when he took trips on boats, he went fishing or to a hunting camp with his boys and not to a hideaway like Bimini. His family was exemplary and made no waves that called for suppressing hospital or police records or anything else.

Perhaps the fact that Kennon was honest and efficient and ran the state and his life according to the laws of God and man, he missed out on the press coverage that goes to those who have to be rehabilitated and forgiven for their unethical and illegal conduct; coverage that often praises those rascals for their courage and fortitude to face the public after disgracing themselves and their friends who elected them.

Whatever the reason for Governor Kennon’s lack of recognition for having been a model father, soldier, judge, and governor, the cold base record shows that he was exactly the kind of man the public, the preachers, and the press say they want but seldom get in the governor’s office.

Bob Kennon was, with all his success, a humble man and, if living, he would not want credit for what he did. He regarded his going a good job as his duty, and Bob was a man who always did his duty.”

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