Lantz Womack

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Lantz Womack​

Louisiana State Representative for
Franklin, Madison, and Tensas parishes (District 20 in his last term)​
In office
1958​ – 1976​
Preceded by Walter A. Chachere​
Succeeded by Lanny Johnson

Born January 11, 1914​
Died February 19, 1998 (aged 84)​
Winnsboro, Franklin Parish, Louisiana​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Alice Black Womack (married 1935-1998, his death)​
Children Freida Louise Womack

Parents:
Henry Wyche and Elma Crane Womack​

Occupation Farmer; Businessman; Banker
Religion Southern Baptist
Notes:
  • From 1968 to 1972, Womack and colleague S. S. DeWitt represented a combined district including Franklin, Madison, and Tensas parishes.​
  • In his last term in House District 47, Womack also served as a delegate to the convention which produced the currently-used Louisiana Constitution of 1974.
  • Womack and colleague L. D. "Buddy" Napper of Ruston were among Louisiana legislators who had previously played semi-professional baseball.​

Lantz Womack (January 11, 1914 – May 23, 1998)[1] was a Democratic state representative for mainly Franklin Parish from 1958, when he won a special election caused by the death of a freshman member, until Womack's retirement in 1976.[2]

A banker and farmer from Winnsboro in Franklin Parish, located south of Monroe, he was also a delegate to the 1973 convention which wrote the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. [3]From 1968 to 1972, Womack and S. S. DeWitt of Tensas Parish were paired in a combined District 47 (Franklin, Tensas, and Madison parishes). For his last term, Womack was placed in single-member District 20, having defeated several intra-party rivals, including DeWitt and James H. "Jimbo" Colvin of Winnsboro.

Background

Womack was born in Darnell in West Carroll Parish to Henry Wyche Womack (1876-1966) and the former Elma Crane. He had four brothers and three sisters. The Womacks moved to another small community, Goodwill, also in West Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana. In the middle 1930s, Womack played right field for the semi-professional Winnsboro Red Sox baseball team. Another future Louisiana state legislator, L. D. "Buddy" Napper, who had played for Louisiana Tech University (then Louisiana Polytechnic Institute) in Ruston, also played for Winnsboro for a time. Napper, a Democrat, represented Lincoln Parish in the legislature from 1952–1964; for six years the terms of Womack and Napper overlapped. Still other semi-pro baseball players were former Lieutenant Governor Bill Dodd and Woodrow Wilson Dumas, the mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish from 1965 to 1981.[4]

In 1938, Womack married the former Alice Black, who was born on April 14, 1917, in Union County, Illinois. Mrs. Womack was reared in Delhi (pronounced DELL HIGH) in Richland Parish north of Winnsboro. She died in Longview, Texas, on January 9, 2002, from complications of open-heart surgery nearly four years after her husband's death.​[5]

Womack was a member of the board of directors of Franklin Memorial Hospital and a co-founder and chairman of the board of Progressive State Bank, both in Winnsboro. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Winnsboro.​[3]

Two elections in 1972

Womack's closest election was in 1964, when fellow Democrat L. D. Knox, a Winnsboro farmer and timber owner, came within 18 votes of unseating Womack, 3,544 to 3,526. Knox later legally changed his name to "None of the Above" Knox so that as a perennial candidate he could argue for the "None of the Above" option on ballots for those who reject all the declared candidates.[6]

In the general election held on February 1, 1972, Womack faced his first ever Republican opponent, Terry Clingan (1918–2007), a barber in Mangham in Richland Parish, later from Baskin in Franklin Parish. Womack won the race by a 67-33 percent margin, even though Republican gubernatorial candidate David C. Treen ran particularly well in northeast Louisiana that year. Clingan was the stepfather of Robert Max Ross, a businessman from Mangham,[7] who had been Treen's only opponent in Louisiana's first and only Republican primary for governor, held in December 1971.​

In the summer of 1972, Womack was elected on a nonpartisan ballot to the state constitutional convention that met in 1973. The convention wrote the new Louisiana Constitution, which voters adopted in the spring of 1974, at the urging of then Governor Edwin Edwards. Womack defeated John Henry Baker, III, a Republican leader in Franklin Parish, for the delegate position. Ironically, in his early years, Womack had worked for Baker's father, John Henry Baker, II. These turned out to have been the last elections in which Womack emerged as a winner.​

A popular legislator, Womack stressed constituent service during his legislative years. Mrs. Womack was active in a volunteer service group of legislative wives. A well-known hostess and cook, she entertained friends, family, and her husband's constituents. In his first term as governor, John J. McKeithen appointed his Womack to the Louisiana Financial Assistance Commission.​

Womack did not seek legislative reelection in the first-ever nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 1, 1975. Instead, he ran unsuccessfully in the primary for Louisiana agriculture commissioner, having polled 133,270 votes statewide.[8] The winner of the race was Gilbert Lynel "Gil" Dozier (1934-2013). Incumbent David L. "Dave" Pearce (1905-1984), who like Womack was originally from West Carroll Parish, was accused of wrongdoing in office and withdrew from the balloting. That move left Dozier unopposed for the general election. In the legislature, Womack was succeeded by fellow Democrat Lanny Johnson, who, from 2004 to 2019 was the Franklin Parish school superintendent, amid a time of school financial crises. Johnson still resides in St. Joseph in Tensas Parish.​[2]

The Womacks had a daughter, Freida Louise Womack (born 1943), a resident of Longview, Texas, and two nieces, Jeanette Black Allbritton, also of Longview, and Alice Black Jones of Winnsboro.[5]

References

  1. Lantz Womack (1914-1998. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on January 12, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on January 12, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lantz Womack obituary, Monroe News-Star, May 28, 1998​.
  4. Bill Dodd, Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics (Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishing, 1991).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Alice Black Womack (1917-2002). Findagrave.com. Retrieved on January 12, 2020.
  6. L. D. Knox, Who Tried to Give Voters a Choice, Dies at 80. The New York Times (May 28, 2009). Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  7. Obituary of Robert Max Ross. The Monroe News Star. Retrieved on September 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
  8. Minden Press-Herald, November 3, 1975, p. 1.


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