Thomas P. Southerland obituary

Thomas P. Southerland Obituary

Alexandria, Louisiana, United States

June 09, 1920 - January 02, 2017

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Thomas P. Southerland obituary

Thomas P. Southerland Obituary

Jun 09, 1920 - Jan 02, 2017

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Dr. Thomas P. SoutherlandThomas Paul Southerland was born on June 9, 1920, in Bossier City, Louisiana, the son of Dell and Mattie Southerland. He attended Northwestern State University and received at B.A. in Physical Education, followed by a master's degree in Education from NSU and a doctorate in Education from Louisiana State University. At Northwestern, Southerland was an outstanding member of the Demon Football Team, winning distinction as All-State Guard. However, his college years drew to a close as America entered World War II. In 1938, Southerland was one of a small contingent from Louisiana selected to attend the Officer Training Program in New York City where he was prepared to be a Commanding Officer in the United States Navy. As the C.O. of a small ship, Southerland served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters and was awarded a Presidential Commendation for his distinguished participation in the Battle of Iwo Jima. Southerland married his college sweetheart, Maxine Aycock, and after the war, they resided in Alexandria, Louisiana where he served as football coach at Bolton High School, then as the first football coach of Pineville High School, the Principal of Cherokee Elementary School, and the first principal of Alexandria Junior School. In the early 1960's, he was selected Assistant Superintendant of Rapides Parish Public Schools and in 1965, he was named Dean of Education at Northwestern State University. In the years that followed, Southerland was promoted to Dean of the Graduate School and finally, to Vice President of Academic Affairs at NSU. In 1953, Tom and Maxine gave birth to Judith Ann Southerland (Kessler) and in 1959, to Lisa Louise Southerland (Allen). And despite a busy academic life in which Southerland was named Louisiana Educator of the Year, he took time out to read bedtime stories to his children, to inspire them to follow their dreams, and to instill in them a strong work ethic. When Tom and Maxine moved back to Natchitoches in 1965, they became actively involved in Natchitoches life. Tom served as President of the Natchitoches Rotary Club and was chosen as a King of Mardi Gras for the Crewe of St. Denis. He was also named Natchitoches Man of the Year for designing the "round building" (the new Education Center at NSU), for his participation in the Natchitoches/Northwestern Symphony Society, and for creating/carrying out the Chamber of Commerce's "Riverbank Crepe Myrtle Project." In later years, Dr. Southerland suffered from Macular Degeneration, but he still enjoyed books on tape and western movies. He loved his children, Jude and Lisa, his sons-in-law, Rande Kessler and Jeff Allen, his two grandsons, Cliff Southerland Kessler and Thomas Cole Allen, and his great grandsons, Maverick Dean Kessler and Tucker Vaughn Kessler. Friends may gather to honor Dr. Southerland at First United Methodist Church on Friday, March 3, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and funeral services will be held at First United Methodist on Friday, March 3, at 2:00 pm. followed by a brief graveside service at the American Cemetery on Second Street. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be given to Northwestern State University Foundation. Checks made be mailed to NSU Foundation, 535 University Parkway, Natchitoches, LA 71457.
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