Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
BEN AND CLARE THIBODEAUXMR. HAROLD CALLAISTwo families with close ties to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette were honored Sunday during a dedication ceremony for two of the university’s newest residence halls.
The Harold J. Callais family and the Ben and Clare Roy Thibodeaux family will find their names on two new buildings in the Legacy Park complex. Callais Hall and Thibodeaux Hall will join McCullough, Caffery, Vermilion, Roy, Voorhies and E.A. Martin in the eight-building complex.
McCullough, Caffery, Thibodeaux and Callais are open to students while the rest of the halls are expected to be ready for occupancy in the coming months.
“ By honoring these families in this way, we are keeping their memories alive here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette,” said President Ray Authement. “They’ve both worked very hard to support this university and this is our way of showing our thanks.”
Callais, a 1959 electrical engineering graduate at UL Lafayette, was a very successful businessman who served on the Board of Regents for several years including two years at Chairman of the Board. He was instrumental in the creation of Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) - the state's $22 million coastal research facility - managed by UL Lafayette, Nicholls State University and LSU.
In addition, he was a shrewd businessman involved in several industries including industrial electronic sales and repair and cable television. He then went on to purchase Abdon Callais Boat Rentals and later started Solid Waste Disposal Inc. In 1978, he purchased shares of Community Bank of Lafourche and became director and eventually chairman of the board.
He later purchased Lafourche Shipyard and Allied Shipyard in Larose merging the two. He also owned KLEM Broadcasting. In 1995, Callais along with his four sons formed Lagniappe Motors and also served as chairman of the board of American Bank in Welch and chairman of Citizens Progressive in Columbia, La.
Ben Thibodeaux, a native of Breaux Bridge and graduate of LSU and Harvard, engaged in economic studies for the U.S. government in Bolivia, South America and eight countries in the Middle East. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army and attained the rank of Colonel. Following the war, he entered the U.S. Foreign Service and was assigned to the American Embassy in Paris. He assumed responsibilities for implementing the Marshall Plan for Europe.
He later served in the American Embassy in Austria and in Washington, D.C. as director of the Office of International Trade and Resources. He retired from government service in 1960 and settled on a farm near Opelousas.
His wife Clare Roy Thibodeaux grew up near campus in what is known as the Roy House, which is now owned by the university. She graduated from SLI, now UL Lafayette, and taught in the schools of Lafayette Parish.
Because of the couple’s generosity, the university now owns three homes and two vacant lots directly across from campus. In addition, the couple created a generous endowment in the university’s scholarship fund.
Students began moving into Legacy Park last year after the first buildings were ready for occupancy. The 468-bed facility provides students with apartment-style housing and amenities such as high speed Internet access and cable modem connections in each room. It features suites with individual bedrooms joined by shared living and kitchen areas. Each unit includes washer and dryers and each bedroom has a private bathroom.