Jack Christian

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John "Jack" Christian

In office
January 1, 1957 – December 31, 1964
Preceded by Mrs. Jesse L. Webb, Jr. (interim)
Succeeded by Woodrow Wilson Dumas

Member of East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council
In office
January 1, 1953 – December 31, 1956

Born January 22, 1911
Vicksburg, Warren County
Mississippi, USA
Died December 31, 1972 (aged 61)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Resting place Resthaven Gardens of Memory in Baton Rouge
Political party Democrati
Spouse(s) Caryol "Toby" Caulfield Christian (married 1942-1972, his death)
Children No children

John C. and Bessie Nicholson Christian

Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Automobile dealer
Religion Episcopalian

John Christian, known as Jack Christian (January 22, 1911 – December 31, 1972 )[1] was a businessman who served from 1957 to 1964 as the Mayor/President of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.[2]

Background

Christian was born to John C. Christian and the former Bessie Nicholson (1884–1971)[1] in Vicksburg in Warren County in western Mississippi, located on the Mississippi River and site of an American Civil War siege. He was educated in the Vicksburg public school and then studied engineering at Louisiana State University, which brought him to Baton Rouge. From 1930 to 1937, he was employed by his father's automobile agency, Christian & Brough Company in Vicksburg. From 1937 to 1938, he was a representative of the Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company with duties in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. In 1938, he founded Baton Rouge Motors Company, with a franchise for Cadillac, La Salle, and Oldsmobile vehicles.[3]

Christian's work was interrupted by World War II, when at the age of thirty-one joined the United States Naval Reserve and served, accordingly, from 1942 to 1945. He was discharged from the military at the rank of lieutenant. After the war, he headed from 1946 to 1951 Jack Christian Motor Company in Baton Rouge. From 1952 to 1956, he was the sales manager of McInnes Chevrolet.[3]

In 1942, Christian married the former Caryol "Toby" Caulfield at the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. The couple had no children. He was an Episcopalian. Christian was active in the Lions Club, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the American Legion.[3]

Political career

From 1953 to 1956, Christian, allied with the anti-Long faction of Louisiana Democratic politics,[4] served part-time on the Baton Rouge City-Parish Council, a combined municipal/parish operation, a hybrid of a city council member and a county commissioner, originally launched in East Baton Rouge Parish on January 1, 1949.[2][5] On August 22, 1956, Christian was elected Mayor-President and served from January 1, 1957, to December 31, 1964. In office, he introduced a major medical insurance policy for city-parish employees, created a system of job classification and salary schedules for the employees, and introduced a $21 million sewer expansion project.[3] He succeeded Mrs. Jesse L. Webb, Jr., who had served only a few remaining months of her husband's term as mayor-president.[2]

In October 1959, Christian, citing traffic and safety concerns, moved trick-or-treating from Saturday, October 31 (Halloween), to Friday, October 30, in order to accommodate the 1959 LSU Tigers football team game.[6] During the game, LSU's Billy Cannon returned a punt against the Ole Miss Rebels from the University of Mississippi, resulting in an 89-yard touchdown that helped to keep LSU undefeated and secured Cannon the Heisman Trophy, making him the only Tiger to have won the trophy thus far.[6]

On August 29, 1964, Christian was defeated for re-nomination by his fellow Democrat Woodrow Wilson Dumas,[3] a member of the parish council since 1953, who had served his first term on the body alongside Christian. Dumas served four terms as mayor-president, with service ending in his 1980 defeat by the Democrat James Patrick Screen, Jr. (1943-1994).[2]

After his mayoral tenure, Christian was until his death the vice president and general manager of McInnes-Peterson Chevrolet. He died in Baton Rouge on the last day of 1972, three weeks shy of his 62nd birthday.[3][7]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Social Security Death Index. ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved on December 23, 2010; under pay wall.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Who’s Who in City-Parish Government. ebr.lib.la.us. Retrieved on December 23, 2010; no longer on-line.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Christian, John "Jack". Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Retrieved on November 12, 2019.
  4. Michael Kurtz and Morgan D. Peoples (1990 ISBN 0-8071-1577-0). Earl K. Long: The Saga of Uncle Earl in Louisiana Politics. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved on June 28, 2013. 
  5. The East Baton Rouge Parish listing of metro council members does not give the numbers of the districts. There is only a list of all who served during each four-year term of office.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chante Dionne Warren (September 29, 2009). Halloween changes a scary proposition for mayors. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on December 23, 2010; no longer on-line.
  7. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses these sources in its biographical sketch of Jack Christian: the Christian Papers at the Centroplex Branch, Baton Rouge Public Library; Ellis Arthur Davis, The Historical Encyclopedia of Louisiana, Vol. II (1937); Baton Rouge Register, IV (1952); Christian obituary, in defunct Baton Rouge State-Times, January 1, 1973.

See also