by Matt DeVille (LSUAlumni.org)
More than 300 people filled the Lod Cook Alumni Center’s Noland-Laborde Hall for the 2012 LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction gala on Friday, March 30.
The Association’s premier event of the year, the 2012 event spotlighted the 47th Hall of Distinction induction class. Leading the way for this year’s collection of honorees were 2012 Alumnus of the Year Dr. John Butler and NFL linebacker Bradie James, who was recognized as the Young Alumnus of the Year.
Other honorees included urban designer and landscape architect Kurt Culbertson; telecommunication industrialist Joseph Fail; lawyer and cattleman David Means; award-winning designer, writer and educator James Richards; food manufacturing mogul Donald Welge, and retired businessman Claude West.
The evening began with a welcome from LSU Alumni Association President Charlie Roberts and opening remarks from Chairman of the Alumni Association National Board of Directors Mike Woods.
Following the introduction of honorees, which included a champagne toast, 2011 Young Alumnus of the Year and world-renowned trumpeter Graham Breedlove entertained the attendees with an arrangement of LSU tunes.
James, an All-American linebacker at LSU from 1999-2002, was the first to be recognized as the 2012 Young Alumnus. James spent nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and recently signed with the Houston Texans. Away from football, he raises money for breast cancer awareness through his “Foundation 56,” an organization he started following the death of his mother in 2007.
Following his acceptance speech, James presented a check for $60,393 to Woman’s Hospital executives Teri Fontenot and Lynn Weill on behalf of Foundation 56.
A second presentation came later in the evening when Franklinton, La., councilman T.J. Butler presented his brother, 2012 Alumnus of the Year John Butler, with the key to the city.
A distinguished scholar, author, educator, war hero and musician, Butler addressed the gathering with an eloquent 15-minute address, which began with a tribute to his 94-year-old mother, Johnnie Mae Butler, who was in attendance.
The first African-American member of the LSU Tiger Band and a Vietnam War Bronze Star winner, Butler has authored more than 20 books on entrepreneurship and has been a professor at the Kelleher Entrepreneurship Center of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas for almost 40 years.
Butler complimented the guidance of his parents and grandparents for his success in education and business. He talked about the importance of a college education in his family and how every member of his family since 1900 has a college degree.
(All photos by Jim Zietz)