Glenn Conway LeBleu, known as Conway LeBleu (October 4, 1918 – 2007), was a Democrat who served six terms from 1964 to 1988 in the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 36 in southwestern Louisiana, encompassing Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.
Glenn Conway LeBleu died Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, in Christus St. Patrick Hospital following a lengthy illness.
Mr. LeBleu was born on Oct. 4, 1918, in Lake Charles to Loree LeBleu and his wife, the former Sarah Henry. He attended the public schools of Calcasieu Parish and graduated from Lake Charles High School in 1935. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946 with the rank of staff sergeant and was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with the Bronze Battle Star.
Following his discharge from the service, Mr. LeBleu attended McNeese State College and Colorado State University. He graduated from Louisiana State University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry. On Aug. 22, 1950, he was married to the former Virgie McCall of Grand Chenier, and the couple made their home in Cameron until Hurricane Rita; he raised Beefmasters and other cattle.
Mr. LeBleu began his career of public service in 1956 when he was elected to the Cameron Parish Police Jury. During his first year of service, he was faced with the challenge of rebuilding Cameron Parish following its devastation after Hurricane Audrey and was instrumental in the community's rebuilding efforts and recovery. He served in the Louisiana Legislature for 24 years, from 1964 to 1988. While in the Legislature, he served on the Natural Resources Committee and as the vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He was a delegate to the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention and served on the Sabine River Authority that administered the Toledo Bend Project. In 1974, he was a co-recipient of the Liberty Bell Award presented by the Southwest Louisiana Bar Association.
The Associated Press reported in 1984 that Mr. LeBleu was acknowledged as "the most popular lawmaker in the lower chamber." The story added, "He never bears a grudge, always grins and keeps plugging for his major interests — coastal fishing, trapping, farming and help for small rural governments." Mr. LeBleu was the author of the Coastal Environment Protection Trust Fund and legislation creating the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve Fund.
On Thursday, June 4, 1987, the Louisiana House of Representatives celebrated "Conway Day" in honor of his retirement. He was remembered as the protector of the coast by his fellow legislators. A resolution adopted by the House of Representatives on that date stated, "Representative Conway LeBleu has been a strong voice for wise and practical legislative decisions both on the floor and in committee, with service on House committees. The perception and the ability to get to the heart of the matter, which Conway has brought to the House, together with his unique and persuasive style, will be sorely missed on those days when a lighter touch is needed to focus the attention of the House on the central issue."
He was a past president of the Cameron Optimist Club, Cameron Parish Farm Bureau and Cameron Water District Board and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Cameron Parish Cattlemen's Association. In 1976 he received the VFW Doxey-Vincent Citizenship Award as the outstanding citizen of the year in Cameron Parish. Mr. LeBleu was honored as Citizen of the Year for Cameron Parish and served as King Fur XII for the Cameron Fur and Wildlife Festival in 1980.
Pallbearers will be Mr. LeBleu's nephews, Scooter LeBleu, Loree LeBleu, Armant LeBleu, Jay Delaney, Mark Delaney, Scott LeBleu and Cameron LeBleu. Honorary pallbearers will be former state legislators James P. Martin, V.J. Bella and Johnny Siracusa. Also serving as honorary pallbearers are Mr. LeBleu's fellow cowboys, John Conner, Raymond Thibeau, Elmer Peshoff, Ray Boudreaux and Michael Semien.
Mr. LeBleu was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Loree (Sarah Henry) LeBleu; his brother, John Henry LeBleu; sister-in-law, Margie LeBleu; and nephew Conway Charles LeBleu.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 57 years, Virgie McCall LeBleu; several nieces and nephews; many cousins; and thousands of friends from around the state. He will always be remembered by the people of Cameron Parish for his years of devoted service. (From the LCAP, Oct. 12, 2007)
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Conway LeBleu Was One of a Kind
By Jim Beam Columnist, LCAP Oct. 14, 7007
Southwest Louisiana said good-bye Saturday to Conway LeBleu, one of the classiest lawmakers to ever walk the halls of the Louisiana Legislature. LeBleu, 89, died Thursday and was buried Saturday in Cameron Parish, a place he loved and worked for all his life.
I counted him as a dear friend whose congenial spirit and ethical approach to government service earned my respect and admiration.
LeBleu was one of a handful of legislators whose colleagues created a special day to honor their service in the House. LeBleu was first elected in 1964 and served 24 years until 1988.
Tributes flowed freely in 1987 during "Conway Day" in the House of Representatives. It ended with cheers and a standing ovation for what a resolution said "has been a strong voice for wise and practical legislative decisions both on the floor and in committee."
— Praise from Hainkel —
The kindest words may have come from the late John Hainkel of New Orleans, who served as both speaker of the House and president of the Senate.
"Of all the people I've seen come through here, he is truly the most unique," Hainkel said of LeBleu. "He always did what he believed to be right."
LeBleu's support of Hainkel as speaker when Edwin W. Edwards took office for the third time was one of the reasons Edwards forced LeBleu off the influential House Appropriations Committee.
The former governor also accused LeBleu of having "a police jury mentality," a quote LeBleu wore with pride as a badge of honor. He had served with distinction on the Cameron Parish Police Jury prior to running for the House.
Rep. John Alario, who became speaker of the House because of Edwards' support, took LeBleu off the Natural Resources Committee that he had served on since first elected in 1964 and that he chaired for a number of years. Alario offered LeBleu an appointment to a minor committee, but he refused.
Hainkel added a footnote to his accolades for LeBleu that explained why Edwards never understood LeBleu's convictions. Hainkel said LeBleu never succumbed to any pressure from anyone, including governors who served while LeBleu was in the House.
Although LeBleu always saw things in perspective, Edwards' comments had to hurt down deep. LeBleu had supported Edwards during his many campaigns.
"In fact, I've supported him every time since he first ran for Congress (in 1965)," LeBleu said.
However, LeBleu said he had been in politics too long to be bitter.
"If he (Edwards) has something against me, that's his privilege," he said. "If he's trying to punish me for doing what I felt was the right thing, well, that's his business."
The Associated Press in 1984 said of LeBleu, "House members readily acknowledge that the 65-year-old farmer from Cameron is the most popular lawmaker in the lower chamber.
"When his bills get defeated on the House floor, it's almost routine for lawmakers to go to the speaker's stand and apologize to LeBleu for having to vote against him.
"He never bears a grudge, always grins and keeps plugging for his major interests — coastal fishing, trapping, farming and help for small rural governments."
Although LeBleu was an amiable individual, he could show his tough side. I remember one occasion when he took on LSU when the university wanted to establish a sea grant college.
Some people at LSU had opposed a Cameron watershed project pushed by LeBleu, and he figured it was get-even time.
LeBleu rose in opposition to the appropriation amendment that would have provided funds for the sea grant college.
"I seldom call in my favors," he told his colleagues, "but this is one of those times."
The amendment was defeated decisively, but I suggested to LeBleu that the Senate would probably restore the funding.
"Oh, I know they will," he said. "And I'll vote for it when it comes back to the House. I just wanted to show them I could do it."
LeBleu was famous for his Tuesday night parties at the Belmont while the Legislature was in session. They were staged at his apartment with the help of Dr. William Boyd, a former colleague who served later as LeBleu's legislative assistant.
Legislating has its lighter moments, and LeBleu was the star on one of those occasions. House members made him an undeclared candidate for governor in 1986.
One of the candidate's promises was to make Sowela Tech in Lake Charles the premier university in Louisiana. It was to be designated the "university fleet's flagship."
A tongue-in-cheek resolution added, "The House members also support LeBleu because he has pledged to halt the erosion of Louisiana's coastline, but, if not successful, will appoint a Beach Real Estate Commission to oversee the sale of all beach-front property at Lake Charles, Lafayette, Franklin, Thibodaux and Westwego (Alario's hometown)."
Cows needed him LeBleu announced his retirement in May of 1987.
"My efforts during the last 24 years have been directed toward serving my constituents well and in a manner that reflects well on each citizen," he said.
"I hope that each of you feels that I have accomplished that."
LeBleu said he planned on taking it easy after his term ended.
"I have some cows I want to watch over," he said.
"It was been a privilege to represent a fine group of people from the most beautiful part of the world and I thank you for your confidence in me."
Those of us who knew Conway LeBleu felt his presence always made life a little brighter and our lives were richer for having known him.
Contributor: Trent Gremillion (48319447) • [email protected]
S/SGT U.S ARMY AIR FORCES
WORLD WAR II
STATE REPRESENTATIVE 1964-1988
Virgie Annie McCall LeBleu
1918–2016 (m. 1950)
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