Forrest Dunn

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George Forrest Dunn, Jr.

Louisiana State Representative
for District 3 (Caddo Parish)
In office
1972–1984
Preceded by At-large delegation:

Lonnie Odell Aulds
Algie Dee Brown
Frank Russo Fulco, Sr.
Percy Joseph "P.J." Mills, Jr.
Dr. James Robert "Jimmy" Strain
Dayton Hollis Waller, Jr.
Don W. Williamson

Succeeded by Single-member district:

Willie Singleton


Caddo Parish School Board member
In office
1969–1972

Born September 6, 1928
Plain Dealing, Bossier Parish, Louisiana
Died October 15, 2016 (aged 88)
Bossier City, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Park Cemetery in Shreveport
Political party Democrat / later Independent
Spouse(s) (1) Rachel Nelson Dunn, later Rachel Williamson (divorced)

(2) Donna Young Dunn (1943-2014)
Children from first marriage:
Linda Dunn Turner
Robbie Jack Dunn (deceased)
James Forrest "Jimmy" Dunn (deceased)

Alma mater Bossier High School
Occupation Businessman

Museum director
United States Navy in World War II

Religion Episcopalian

George Forrest Dunn, Jr., known as Forrest Dunn (September 6, 1928 – October 15, 2016), was an administrator of the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport, Louisiana, and a Democratic formerstate representative, having served from 1972 to 1984 in the now majority African American District 3 seat.

In 1980, Dunn made an ill-fated campaign for the United States House of Representatives. He lost to the eventual general election winner, Buddy Roemer, then of Bossier Parish and later the Democratic-turned-Republican governor of Louisiana from 1988 to 1992.

Background

One of three sons, Dunn was born in Plain Dealing in northern Bossier Parish to George Forrest Dunn, Sr., and the former Gladys Malone. The senior Dunn was a native of Bradley in southwestern Arkansas. Two other Louisiana Democratic political figures also have roots in tiny Plain Dealing: former U.S. Representative Joe Waggonner and the late state Treasurer Andrew Patrick "Pat" Tugwell (1889-1976).

Dunn attended Bossier High School, did not graduate, but obtained a General Equivalency Diploma in 1947. He served two years in the United States Navy, having been stationed aboard the U.S.S. Richmond. In 2009, Dunn was nevertheless named to the Bossier High School Hall of Fame, along with the internationally known neurological surgeon Dr. Arthur L. Day (Class of 1965) and the tax scholar Hoffman F. Fuller (Class of 1950), the son of former Bossier City Mayor Hoffman L. Fuller (1899-1983).[1] While they were still teenagers, Dunn married the former Rachel Nelson (also born 1928). The couple had three children: Linda Dunn Turner (born 1947), Robby Jack Dunn (1949-2017),[2] and James Forrest "Jimmy" Dunn (1952–1985), who perished in an automobile accident in Oklahoma. The Dunns subsequently divorced, and Forrest Dunn married the former Donna Young (1943-2014), a Shreveport social worker who died of complications from surgery. She had two sons, Bryan and Austin Beard, from a previous marriage.[3]

The first Mrs. Dunn later married former state Senator Don W. Williamson, originally from Vivian in northern Caddo Parish, and later of Shreveport. Williamson was widowed from his first wife, the former Norma Herring of Vivian. Williamson, like Dunn, spent years in the furniture business.[4] Dunn had two brothers, George Ellis Dunn (1939–2002) and James Wayne Dunn, who died in 2004.

Dunn was a salesman prior to launching Dunn Furniture Company which operated for three decades: 1955-1985. The main location was at 4001 Jewella Avenue in Shreveport, and a second outlet was launched on Line Avenue.[1] Son Robby Dunn assisted in the store for a number of years and later ran a flea market. Forrest Dunn said that so many changes had occurred in the production, marketing, and sale of furniture over the years that it was "too much to mention."

Four years after the furniture store closed, Dunn accepted an appointment from the Republican Secretary of State Walter Fox McKeithen (1946-2005), to head the state museum, which is located on the site of the Louisiana State Fair. As museum administrator, Dunn has worked to bring to Shreveport new exhibits of interest, including an acclaimed display on Huey and Earl Kemp Long.

Dunn was a member of the Downtown Shreveport Rotary International, one of the largest such clubs in the United States. He was a member of St. Marks' Episcopal Church in Shreveport.

Political life, 1972-1984

Dunn's first venture in politics was his relatively brief tenure on the Caddo Parish School Board from 1969 to 1972. Ironically, Don Williamson had also served on the school board, including a stint as its president. Williamson left the board to assume his legislative seat just as Dunn was beginning his board service.

Dunn was elected to the state legislature from District 3 in the 1971-1972 cycle, which brought Edwin Edwards to the governorship. He worked in the House with Senator Williamson to obtain four-year status for Louisiana State University at Shreveport. He also fought to place Shreveport police and firefighters under the Louisiana state retirement system. He supported a successful constitutional amendment to require members of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to run at the same time, rather than with staggered terms. Dunn called for an appointed state superintendent of education, an idea that came to fruition in the next session after he had left the legislature. He credited passage of the bill to the former Representative Alphonse J. Jackson (1927-2014), an African-American from Shreveport and the father of former Louisiana state Senator Lydia Jackson of Caddo Parish.

Dunn said that he managed to acquire a popular water ride from the New Orleans World's Fair of 1984, but the City of Shreveport has never used it. Dunn said that he worked with Republican Governor David C. Treen to obtain six vans for the H.A.P. House on the Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City. The H.A.P. House provides special services for the handicapped. Dunn also obtained state funds for a master plan for the Louisiana State Fair, held each fall in Shreveport, and a master plan and outlay plans for the museum which he administered.

One of Dunn's legislative colleagues was Richard Harmon Drew, Sr. (1917-1995), of Minden in Webster Parish. Drew's son, Louisiana Circuit Court Judge Harmon Drew, Jr., said that his father considered Dunn one of the hardest working and overall best legislators in Baton Rouge. Their terms coincided from 1972 to 1978, when the senior Drew returned to his previous post of Minden municipal judge.

1980 congressional race

Though he maintains Democratic affiliation, Dunn endorsed Republican President Gerald Ford, in the 1976 presidential election. In 1980, he ran for the 4th congressional district seat then held for a single term by former Representative Anthony Claude "Buddy" Leach, Jr., then of Leesville in Vernon Parish in western Louisiana. He finished fifth among the six candidates, including former state Senator Cecil Kay Carter, Jr. (1929-1987), of Shreveport, then state Senator Foster Campbell of Bossier Parish, and state Representative Loy Frank Weaver of Claiborne Parish. . The seat was won by Buddy Roemer, who unseated Leach in the runoff election; technically, the general election held on the same day that Ronald W. Reagan unseated Democrat Jimmy Carter for the presidency. When asked about his congressional race, the tight-lipped Dunn said simply, "I did not get enough votes." He declined to support either Leach or Roemer in the second round of balloting. Dunn received 8,208 ballots (6.7 percent). As predicted by some Republicans, Dunn polled more than enough votes to have kept the Republican candidate, James H. "Jimmy" Wilson (1931-1986) of Vivian, from a first- or second-place primary finish, presuming that Dunn voters' second choice in most cases may have been Wilson because the two shared ideas of fiscal conservatism.

Dunn retired in 2010 from the administrator's position at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum and was succeeded by Wayne Waddell, who resigned from the Louisiana House of Representatives to accept the position. Dunn later became a registered Independent voter.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hall of Fame: Bossier High School honors alumni. The Forum Newsweekly magazine (October 21, 2009). Retrieved on January 20, 2015.
  2. Robby Dunn Obituary. The Shreveport Times (October 17, 2017). Retrieved on February 15, 2018.
  3. Donna Young Dunn. Old.findagrave.com. Retrieved on February 15, 2018.
  4. Billy Hathorn, "The Williamsons of Caddo Parish: A Political 'Mini-Dynasty'", North Louisiana History, Winter 2008, pp. 33-.
  5. George Dunn, September 1928. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on January 20, 2015.