Francis Edward "Hank" Lauricella

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Francis Edward "Hank" Lauricella, college football legend, longtime Louisiana legislator, and prominent Jefferson Parish real estate developer, died Tuesday. He was 83. To all who knew him, Hank was above all a kind, generous, and unpretentious gentleman of integrity. Throughout his life, he inspired great loyalty from those around him. He was devoted to his family. The beloved husband of 61 years of his college sweetheart Betty Valker Lauricella, Hank is also survived by his five children, Francis Lauricella, Jr., and his wife Mary of San Francisco; Louis Lauricella and his wife Connie Jo of New Orleans; Elizabeth Lauricella McStravick and her husband Peter of Katy, Texas; Marc Lauricella and his wife Kyle of Wilton, Connecticut; and Christopher Lauricella and his wife Ellen of Los Angeles; and by his fifteen grandchildren, Nicolas Lauricella, Elizabeth Ann McStravick, Natalia Lauricella, Peter McStravick Jr., Stephen McStravick, Katherine Lauricella, Mary Helen McStravick, Michael Lauricella, Lindsey Lauricella, Jillian Lauricella, Christian McStravick, Peyton Lauricella, Jack Lauricella, John Lauricella, and Thomas Lauricella. Other survivors include his niece, Sandra Lauricella Anzelmo and her husband Thomas of Harahan and his nephew, John Lauricella III of Baton Rouge. He was predeceased by his parents, John Lauricella and Theresa Sherling Lauricella; his brother, John Lauricella, Jr.; his sister, Dr. Sherling Lauricella; and his niece, Mary Sherling Lauricella. Hank was born in Harahan on October 19, 1930 and was raised there until the age of ten, when he entered the fifth grade as a boarding student at the Holy Cross School. After graduation from Holy Cross, he attended the University of Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 1952. While at Holy Cross, Hank's athletic talents became apparent. A four sport letterman twice, he was named all-state halfback and was the New Orleans prep batting champion during his senior year. As a prep football player, he excelled in Holy Cross's single-wing offense as a "triple threat" tailback, running, passing, and punting. Widely recruited, he opted to attend the University of Tennessee, where he flourished under Coach General Robert R. Neyland. Playing single-wing tailback, Hank led the Volunteers to a 10-1 season during his junior year, capped by a victory in the 1951 Cotton Bowl. Tennessee went undefeated during the regular season of his senior year, won the SEC title, and was named national champion before losing to Maryland in the 1952 Sugar Bowl. During his senior year, Hank was a repeat all-SEC player, was named All-American, and was voted runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He played one year of professional football for the Dallas Texans in 1953. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1982, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 2005, and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. Hank served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers from 1953 to 1955, with one year of service in Korea. Hank returned to Harahan in 1955 and joined his father and his brother in the family business, John L. Lauricella and Sons, which was focused at that time primarily on residential real estate development in Jefferson Parish. During the 1970's, Hank and his brother began to shift the business, now known as the Lauricella Land Company, toward commercial real estate development. Hank's patience, restraint, and sound judgment helped guide the company through the very challenging business environment of the 1970s and mid-1980s. Together with his son Louis, who joined the firm in the late 1980s, Hank helped achieve its current success. Hank represented Jefferson Parish in the Louisiana State Legislature for 32 years. In 1964, Hank was elected to the first of two terms in the House of Representatives. From 1972-to-1996, he served six terms as Louisiana State Senator. As a legislator, he was diligent, low-keyed, consistent in his views, and trustworthy. A voice of moderation, he instinctively sought consensus. Economic development, particularly regarding transportation, was one of his top priorities throughout his long political career. While representing Jefferson Parish, he also promoted legislation that benefited the greater New Orleans region, supporting the Superdome, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Louis Armstrong International Airport, and the Port of New Orleans. Hank served on the boards of many organizations, including the original Dome Stadium Commission, the Port of New Orleans, the World Trade Center of New Orleans, and the Jefferson Business Council. He also served as the first chairman of the Board of the Jefferson Community Foundation. Beyond business and politics, Hank had many diverse interests. Always the disciplined athlete, he remained incredibly fit by walking 5 miles each day on the levee until his early 80s. An avid gardener and cook, he loved to make a salad of freshly picked home grown tomatoes and escarole and to season his favorite Italian dishes with basil and rosemary from his garden. He read constantly, focusing primarily on finance and politics, and always had a book on American history nearby. He remained a passionate supporter of Tennessee football and frequently traveled to Knoxville to cheer on the Vols and to reunite with old teammates and friends. Most of all, he loved to be with his grandchildren, with whom he built a special bond nurtured early on during annual family reunions in Harahan and sustained later by visits and phone calls. The Lauricella family extends heartfelt thanks to the Cardiac Critical Care nurses, the Critical Care Team, and the Cardiology Team at Ochsner Hospital and to his nurses and friends, Tom and Angelique Bello, for their outstanding, thoughtful care for Hank. The Lauricella family also would like to thank Father John Arnone and Deacon Gary Borne of St. Rita's Catholic Church for their love and wonderful support. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a visitation at Lake Lawn Funeral Home (5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard) on Tuesday, April 1 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and an extended visitation at St. Rita's Catholic Church (7100 Jefferson Highway, Harahan) Wednesday, April 2 at 10 a.m. with a Funeral Mass to follow at 12:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Hank's memory to the Hank Lauricella Memorial Fund. This fund was established at his death by friends and business associates who had deep admiration for Hank and wanted to continue his good works throughout the community. This fund will be administered by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, 1055 St. Charles Ave., Suite 100, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. To sign and view the Family Guestbook, please visit www.lakelawnmetairie.com.
Published in TheAdvocate.com from Mar. 29 to Apr. 2, 2014
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