Charles Dunbar

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Charles Edward Dunbar, Jr.​

(New Orleans attorney known as "Mr. Civil Service of
North America")

Born December 26, 1888​
McComb, Pike County
Mississippi, USA
Died April 17, 1959 (aged 70)​
New Orleans, Louisiana

Resting place:
Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans

Spouse Ethelyn Legendre Dunbar (married 1925-1959, his death)​

Charles E. Dunbar, III
​ George Bauer Dunbar
Charles, Sr., and Emma Bauer Dunbar
Alma mater: Tulane University
Harvard Law School

Religion Roman Catholic

Charles Edward Dunbar, Jr. (December 26, 1888 – April 17, 1959), was an attorney who developed the modern civil service system in Louisiana. He was the first chairman of the Louisiana State Civil Service Commission, having served from 1941 to 1947.​


Dunbar was born in McComb in Pike County, Mississippi, to Charles Dunbar, Sr., and the former Emma Bauer. In 1910, Dunbar received his Bachelor of Arts degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from Tulane University in New Orleans. He did graduate work at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1914 from Harvard Law School. He served in the United States Army during World War I. From 1916 to 1941, he served on the teaching faculty of the Tulane Law School. In 1915, he began affiliation with a New Orleans law firm, was made partner in 1919, and retained that professional relationship until his death.[1]

The pursuit of civil service

Dunbar's pursuit of civil service was a response to end the past practices of political patronage in the awarding of state and municipal government jobs during the Huey Long and Earl Kemp Long administrations. The first civil service law was drafted in 1940 under the administration of Governor Sam Houston Jones. Dunbar also worked to get the law adopted as a constitutional amendment to make any future repeal attempt less likely to succeed.[1]From 1948-1952, the civil service department was run by R. B. Walden, a former mayor of Winnsboro in Franklin Parish south of Monroe.[2] A second civil service measure followed in 1952 under the administration of Governor Robert F. Kennon.[3]

Dunbar served on the executive board of the American Bar Association, as president of the Louisiana Bar Association, and as a trustee of the Southwestern Legal Foundation. He served on the board of advisory editors of The Tulane Law Review from its inception until his death. From 1923 to 1925, he was the president of the Tulane Alumni Association. In 1941, he was the vice-president of the National Civil Service League as well as the founding president of the Louisiana Civil Service League. In 1958, Dunbar was recognized as "Mr. Civil Service of North America" by the Public Personnel Association.[1]

In June 1925, Dunbar married the former Ethelyn Legendre (years of birth and death missing) of New Orleans. Their sons were Charles E. Dunbar, III (1926–1995), and George Bauer Dunbar (born ca. 1928) of Slidell in St. Tammany Parish. Dunbar died in New Orleans and is interred there at Metairie Cemetery.[1][4]

Dunbar is remembered through the annual Charles E. Dunbar, Jr., Career Service Awards presented annually by the Louisiana Civil Service League to noteworthy employees in all levels of government work. Since the program began in 1959, some eight hundred employees have received the honor.[3] when he held the title of municipal secretary-treasurer.[5] In 2005, two employees at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond in Tangipahoa Parish won the Dunbar Award.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Dunbar, Charles E.. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography: Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on April 25, 2020.
  2. Walden, R. B.. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography : Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on April 25, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Charles E. Dunbar, Jr., Career Service Award Nomination Form. Retrieved on April 25, 2020.
  4. A second Ethelyn Legendre Dunbar (1962-2003), killed in an automobile accident in British Columbia, Canada, was a daughter of Charles Dunbar, III, and hence a granddaughter of Charles E. and Ethelyn Dunbar.
  5. Ray R. Allen obituary, Alexandria Town Talk, April 7, 2010.
  6. Two Southeastern employees receive state civil service award. Southeastern Louisiana University (January 18, 2005). Retrieved on May 29, 2014; no longer on-line.

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