Malcolm Paul Hébert Sr.
|Streets and Parks Commissioner in Alexandria, Louisiana|
June 1973 – June 1977
|Preceded by||O'Hearn Lawrence Mathews|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished through new city charter|
|Born||October 25, 1926|
Monroe, Ouachita Parish
|Died||September 23, 2006 (aged 79)|
Alexandria, Rapides Parish
|Cause of death||Lengthy illness from stroke|
|Resting place||Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville, Louisiana|
|Spouse(s)||Mary Patricia Morgan "Pat" Hébert (married 1950-2006, his death)|
|Relations||B. Dexter Ryland (son-in-law)|
|Children||Malcolm Hébert Jr.|
|Parents||Maxime Paul and Linda Talbot Hébert|
|Alma mater||Holy Savior Menard Central High School|
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
|Occupation||Mechanical engineer; Construction company officer|
|Branch/service||United States Navy|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Malcolm Paul Hébert Sr. (October 25, 1926 – September 23, 2006), was a mechanical engineer who served from 1973 to 1977 as the last commissioner of streets and parks in Alexandria, Louisiana, a citywide elected position which was abolished with a change in the city charter.
Background[edit | edit source]
Hébert was born in Monroe in Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana, one of three children of Maxime Paul Hébert and the former Linda Talbot. He had two sisters, Maxine Hébert Meadows of Alexandria and Betty Hébert Thompson of Lake Charles. The family soon relocated to Alexandria, where he resided for most of his life. In 1943, he graduated in the top third of his class from the Roman Catholic-affiliated Holy Savior Menard Central High School, then known as Menard Memorial High School. There, Hébert was a drum major and played football. After high school, he became an apprentice machinist for the since dis-established Missouri Pacific Railroad, in which capacity he joined the International Association of Machinists union. Soon he enlisted in the United States Navy near the end of World War II and volunteered for submarine service on the USS Ling, which was operational from 1945 to 1946. Hébert studied in the Naval Diesel Training School in Gulfport, Mississippi, and the Submarine School in New London, Connecticut.
Career[edit | edit source]
After the war, Hébert studied engineering, first at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he was initiated into Sigma Chi fraternity, and then at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then named Southwestern Louisiana Institute, from which he graduated. He played first base on the 1950 SLI Gulf States Conference baseball team, a league since dismantled. Thereafter, his interest in sports never wavered. For more than a quarter century, he was a member of the Louisiana Football Officials Association. He coached the American Legion baseball team in Alexandria and was twice named coach of the All-State Softball team. Following a stroke in 1981, he continued coaching mentally handicapped children at St. Mary's Residential Training School in Alexandria, a Roman Catholic institution originally established in 1954 by Bishop Charles Pasquale Greco. In 1985, his teams from St. Mary's garnered the state championships in Tee ball and softball. He was involved too in Dixie Youth Baseball and Softball. He was heavily involved too when his son and three grandsons played football for Our Lady of Prompt Succor Elementary School and then Menard High School.
As an engineer, Hébert was cited for his design of a practical, cost-effective system to re-line water and sewer pipes, an innovation used first in his native Monroe. For more than twenty-five years, he was treasurer and vice president of Roland Construction Company, Inc., which was established in Alexandria in 1960 but is since inactive.
In the spring of 1973, Hébert unseated O'Hearn Lawrence Mathews (1923-1975) to win the streets and parks commissioner position. Mathews was an experienced politician, having previously been the Alexandria city marshal and in 1962 the first president of the newly formed Louisiana City Marshals and City Constables Association.
On the council, Hébert served alongside Mayor John K. Snyder, who was also the commissioner of public safety and sanitation, and Arnold Jack Rosenthal, the last of the Alexandria commissioners of finance and utilities. All were Democrats. At times, he and Snyder made two-to-one decisions overruling Rosenthal, even regarding appointments in Rosenthal's own department of his executive assistant, the late Floyd W. Smith Jr., the former mayor of Pineville, Louisiana. Snyder and Hebert in 1974 joined to dismiss Smith despite Rosenthal's heated opposition.
As commissioner, Hébert exercised both executive and legislative functions through supervision of his department and as a member of the three-person city council, all of whom were elected on an at-large basis. He supervised the repair and upgrading of municipal streets and sewer operations, encouraged youth sports programs, and worked to expand and improve Alexandria Zoological Park, then a small facility begun in 1926. Located adjacent to Bringhurst Field, the zoo has since been enlarged to attract thousands of visitors annually from throughout Central Louisiana. He once cared for several abandoned lion cubs and a monkey in his own home. As commissioner, Hebert in 1974 hired Les Whitt as the director of the Alexandria Zoo, a position in which Whitt achieved great success in a 34-year career.
After the city charter was switched to the mayor-council format, Hébert became the first director of the revised city department of public works under Carroll E. Lanier, the first mayor elected after the demise of the city commission government and a former finance and utilities commissioner. Hébert left the post in 1951 after four years of service. At the age of fifty-five, he sustained a life-altering stroke, which required caregivers for the remainder of his life.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Hébert was known for his wit, strength, smile, and use of unusual, pithy nicknames given to friends and associates. He was married until his death for more than fifty-five years to the former Mary Patricia "Pat" Morgan (July 29, 1930 – November 13, 2010), a native of New Orleans, who was reared in Mamou in Evangeline Parish in South Louisiana and in Port Arthur, Texas. The two met at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Mrs. Hébert was an assistant director of the Title V Employment Program and the director of the Rapides Parish Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. She retired after twenty-one years with the nonprofit organization, the Rapides Council on Aging and received the Governor's Legacy of Achievement Award.
The Héberts had a son and daughter-in-law, Malcolm Paul Jr. (born 1956), and Susan McDaniel Hébert, formerly of Haughton in Bossier Parish. Their daughters are Paulette H. Ryland (born c. 1952), Tommie Jean Hébert, and Renee' Louise Hébert Gutierrez, all of Alexandria, and Deborrah Ann Hébert, the dean of students at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo in Solano County in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and a former resident of San Angelo, Texas. Their six grandchildren are Malcolm "Trey" Hebert, III, of Lafayette, Clifton Bert Ryland, Jillian Ann Gutierrez, Melicia Soileau Ryland, Amelia Marydell Ryland, and John Schilling Gutierrez Jr., all of Alexandria. His son-in-law, B. Dexter Ryland, was a judge of the Louisiana 9th Judicial District Court in Alexandria from 1990 until his death in 2005; he was the husband of the Héberts' daughter, Paulette.
The Héberts are interred at Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville.
References[edit | edit source]
- In Alexandria and in other cities with the city commission government, the commissioner exercises both legislative and executive duties, on the city council and as a department head. This position should not be confused with a county commissioner, most of whom were and still are elected in single-member districts. County commissioners are the "legislators" of a county (called parish in Louisiana), with the county judge normally in the role of the "executive" head of the county. In Louisiana, the executive of the parish can be the police jury president, the president of the parish, or a parish "administrator", depending on the structure of the parish government. City commissioners could not be chosen on a district basis, as their administrative duties affected the entire city. African Americans were not then elected to city government in most parts of the American South. Soon an outcry in the Civil rights movement raised legal challenges to the city commission governments.
- "Malcolm Paul Hébert, September 24, 2006". The Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Menard Memorial High School Menardian yearbook, p. 55". e-yearbook.com. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "St. Mary's Residential Training School History". stmarys-rts.org. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Roland Construction Company, Inc". bizapedia.com. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Bonnette v. Karst". law.justia.com. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Louisiana City Marshals and City Constables Association, Organized April 8, 1962" (PDF). lamarshals.org. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- Bret H. McCormick, Floyd W. Smith, Jr., former mayor of Pineville, dies at 77, The Alexandria Town Talk, February 12, 2010
- Alexandria Zoo Director Les Whitt dies, The Alexandria Town Talk, August 17, 2008, p. 1
- "Cynthia D. Jardon, Former Alexandria Mayor Carroll Lanier dies at 86". The Alexandria Town Talk. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Mary Hébert (1930-2010)". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Office of the Dean of Students". csum.edu. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "Hebert, November 18, 2011". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
- "9th JDC Judge B. Dexter Ryland". lasc.org. Retrieved June 7, 2014.
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O'Hearn Lawrence Mathews
| Streets and Parks Commissioner of Alexandria, Louisiana
Malcolm Paul Hébert Sr.
Position abolished through change in city charter
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