Publisher: New beginnings and finishing well

Sometimes, in the midst of all the chaos and the 24-hour news cycle, we get a brief respite and change of perspective; a moment that enables us to see life more clearly, a reminder of what matters most. This month I experienced that after attending two special events, which together spoke much about life’s journey.

Ironically, both took place in the LSU PMAC. One crowd was there to honor 3,500 young, graduates starting out; the other to celebrate the well-lived life of one 85-year-old man. Both were joyous celebrations with signifi­cant meaning.

The first was LSU graduation day, with so many bright young faces ready for new beginnings and all life offers. Surrounded by loved ones, these graduates, fueled by ambition and dreams twinkling in their eyes, are prepared and eager to make their fortune and their mark in the days ahead. Most don’t yet realize there are no guarantees about what the next year holds for them, and they often have little control of it. (None of us do.) But it is an exciting time filled with hope. It was an honor for me to be part of this event for the graduates, their families and friends and the LSU family.

The second event, days later, was also a joyful time for family and friends who looked to the future “on the other side.” It was a memorial service for Donald Tabb, founding pastor of The Chapel on the Campus and a dear family friend. (He and a best friend drowned recently in an accident at South Pass when their boat capsized.) Ironically, Tabb first came to Baton Rouge in 1970 with the Billy Graham Crusade and started out across the street from the PMAC at Tiger Stadium. He made Baton Rouge home. The church he founded was on campus too, and most of his life was spent sharing the gospel to LSU students, faculty, alums and many others. (His wife, Mary, had been on the LSU faculty.)

His memorial event was filled with an eternal hope as loved ones surrounded the family and shared stories of Donald and how he had already made his mark in life—and on each of them.

As I sat in the PMAC again, I realized that hundreds and hundreds of people had come from near and far to honor this man not because he was famous or powerful or rich or had titles or awards, but simply because he had touched their lives and served them. He had put others first. I listened to friends and family share how he had loved them, encouraged them, mentored them, married them, baptized them, or shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Many of these are now in the ministry and following in his footsteps serving and sharing the gospel to thousands, as Don did.

As I listened to his best friends tell stories, I realized that while Don had not chosen a path that included a “treasure ship,” he found something so much more valuable: friendships and a personal relationship with his savior, Jesus Christ. He invested in people and that was evident in the PMAC. It changed his life—and the lives of so many others here and around the globe.

The folks sitting on the floor of the PMAC for his service were a generation or two older than those graduates who had sat in the same chairs at the LSU graduation. Older and wiser, as life has taught us lessons that gave us a new perspective and priorities. We realize that our children and grandchildren are so much more precious than any “grand prize.” And there is no better title than “Dad” or “Big Dad” for me personally.

Don Tabb was special and had his own graduation day from this earth. He finished well and with honors. He was God’s servant and blessed all that knew him. Like his mentor, Billy Graham, who passed away recently, he heard those precious words from his heavenly father, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

The commencement speaker for that LSU graduation ceremony was Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, who praises God for answered prayers after he was shot down in Washington, D.C. But he had one bit of advice he shared with the new graduates that almost seemed prophetic for the memorial service that followed. He said, “It’s what you do with your life and the impact you make on others that matters most.” Don Tabb’s memorial—and life—was a testimony to that and an example for us all.

Let the voters decide in Ascension

The discussion and debate on the most effective form of government for Ascension Parish continues, but will the voters get to decide their fate? They should. It’s their government, their money and their future.

Who do taxpayers want to make the complex and costly decisions day by day: an experienced, professional city manager or a “good ol’ boy” politician looking towards the next election? I applaud the Ascension community leaders and elected officials for having this discussion and would like to see East Baton Rouge Parish do so as well. (Have you watched a Metro Council meeting lately?)

Last week, two experts were in Gonzales to speak on forms of government, explaining, according to The Advocate, that their research showed “the county council-manager form government tends toward less corruption, greater public engagement and more innovation than other forms of government.” They also noted: “Forty-three percent of all county governments have a council-county manager form government, and the structure represents the fastest growing version of local government.”

The Advocate went on to report, “Kimberly Nelson, a public administration professor and researcher at UNC-Chapel Hill, said having a professionally trained manager with an elected board setting broad policy and staying out of day-to-day matters helps lead to more-efficient government.”

Ascension’s strong growth will continue, requiring professional planning and management to meet the challenges. The parish can choose the status quo or—if they have the courage to be innovative—can be a trailblazer in Louisiana.

Since this movement for change in government structure began, Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa and his friend, Olin Berthelot, have been indicted over an election bribery charge. This is just one more reason to put this option for change on the ballot this fall and let the people decide their future.

Leading the way

It is always inspiring to read this issue of Business Report honoring the Influential Women in Business. Our community and state are fortunate and we applaud and celebrate their success.

I want to also salute and thank the talented professional women of our company who represent 80% of our team and bring you the best publications, digital products and events in the state.  

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