LAFAYETTE – On Friday, Sept. 28, the University of Louisiana will honor the man who touched the lives of many associated with Ragin' Cajuns Athletics through 35 years of dedicated service.
Bill "Blackjack" Landry served as an equipment manager for UL Athletics from June 1963 until his body finally gave out in August 1998 after a battle with colon and liver cancer. His tireless and selfless service to the coaches and student-athletes he worked with on a daily basis inspired all associated with UL Athletics.
Loyalty, integrity and honor are the hallmarks of his legacy.
On Friday, near the entrance of State Farm Gate A at Cajun Field, the University will unveil the Bill "BlackJack" Landry Memorial Statue. The ceremony, at the top of the hill in Cajun Field's south end zone, begins at 5:30 p.m.
Relatives, friends, former UL athletes, support groups and fans are encouraged to attend the event. For more information contact Andree Gonsoulin at 962-2238.
"The character of a university is often determined by its buildings and programs. But, the soul of a university is its people," UL President Dr. E. Joseph Savioe said. "Those who demonstrate uncompromising loyalty and love through good times and bad create the essential spirit of the place.
"In this regard, Bill ‘BlackJack' Landry is an icon for the ages," Savoie declared.
Spearheaded by Tommie Rogers and countless others, a committee was formed and worked to raise the funds necessary to have the stature erected at Cajun Field so that "Blackjack" could "look down on the field" and watch his beloved Ragin' Cajuns play the game he loved.
"The goal is to ensure that hereafter, future generations of Cajuns will be inspired by Blackjack," Ken Blanchard, who played defensive tackle from 1967-70 and interacted with Blackjack. "The memorial is something people will see every time they go inside the stadium, and will remember how he lived his life and how he touched everyone who crossed his path."
Many fans will get their first look at the statue when they enter Cajun Field for Saturday's key Sun Belt Conference contest with FIU.
The sculpture was important to committee members, but the fund raising efforts won't stop there. Future funds raised will go toward the Bill "BlackJack" Landry Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is now endowed and given to student support staff members of the Ragin' Cajuns Athletics Department equipment room on an annual basis.
"The drive for this was really the endowed scholarship," Blanchard stated. "The response has been overwhelming. We have a giving level of $5,000 or more and we've probably got a dozen of those, but it's really been a grass-roots effort."
For more information on the Bill "Blackjack" Landry Memorial Scholarship fund click here to download a brochure. To make a donation to the fund, click here to visit the UL Foundation website (Click "Donate">Athletic Development/Sports>type "Blackjack Memorial Athletics Fund" in the box entitled additional designation). Donations can also be made by mail (P.O. Box 44290, Lafayette, LA 70504) or by phone (337-482-0700).
An article written by Dan McDonald, former sports information director and one of Blackjack's colleagues, is published in this week's edition GEAUX Ragin' Cajuns – the official football gameday program of UL Athletics. Get your copy at the game on Saturday.