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Story Archives: William R. "Billy" Boles passes away
|William R. "Billy" Boles passes away|
An accomplished attorney and confidante to governors, U.S. senators and congressmen, William R. "Billy" Boles died Saturday after battling a lengthy illness. Boles, 81, passed away at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe.
Under the direction of Kilpartrick's Funeral Home, services will be held Tuesday beginning at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of West Monroe. Burial is at Memorial Garden. Visitation will be held Monday from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. at Kilpatrick's on Lamy Lane in Monroe.
Just 24 years of age when he was elected to the Louisiana Senate in 1951, Boles was the youngest man ever elected to the Senate. He served just one term in the Legislature, representing Richland, Franklin and Catahoula parishes.
Boles defeated a powerhouse member of the Legislature in that '51 campaign, Dr. Ralph King of Winnsboro. King was an ally of the Long family, which dominated politics in Louisiana for much of the 20th century.
Boles was an anti-Long candidate in that '51 election, an election in which Robert F. Kennon, an anti-Long man, too, was elected governor. In those days, candidates for public office were either pro-Long, or supporters of Earl K. and Huey, or anti-Long.
While he loved politics, Boles chose not to seek re-election as his first term in the Senate came to a close. Instead, he returned home to Richland Parish to focus on establishing his career as an attorney. Boles once said he gave up serving in the Senate so he could practice law to earn a living to feed his family.
That's exactly what Boles did and more.
Boles founded his own law firm, the Boles Law Firm, which established itself as one of the go-to law firms in Louisiana for large corporations such as the telecommunications conglomerate, CenturyTel, and the like. Men and women from all walks of life who simply needed a good attorney to represent their interests turned to the Boles Law Firm, too. Its clients number into the thousands.
Boles' son, William R. "Bill" Boles Jr., and one of his daughters, Janet Boles Crawford, currently operate the Boles Law Firm.
A close friend of the late Clarke Williams, CenturyTel's founder, Boles served for years as general counsel for CenturyTel. In 1976, Boles handled the legal work for CenturyTel to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. To this day, CenturyTel is the only Monroe-based company that's traded on the NYSE. Boles Jr. serves on CenturyTel's board of directors.
While Boles' law firm continued to grow beyond his imagination, having moved its offices to Monroe from its birthplace in Rayville in Richland Parish, Boles branched out into the financial sector. He was extremely successful in those endeavors as well.
With his dear friend at his side, the late Jamar Adcock, Boles co-founded American Bank. Having served as chairman of the board of directors at American Bank, Boles eventually sold it to Regions Bank in the early 1990s. He made millions of dollars on the transaction.
Boles and Adcock, who served in the state Senate together, also founded First Fidelity Mortgage Co., in Monroe, which eventually became Chase Mortgage. Boles served as chairman of the board at First Fidelity, too. Much like the American Bank transaction, Boles did extremely well financially when he sold First Fidelity.
Ouachita was not the only parish where Boles held ownership in financial institutions.
He bought and later sold Fidelity Bank in Slidell, Colonial Bank in New Orleans and Progressive Bank in Metairie in Jefferson Parish. Boles also bought into Bossier Bank and Trust Co. in Bossier City and Jena Bank in LaSalle Parish.
In 1965, Boles and Adcock played a vital role in helping the late Sam Hanna Sr. get his start in the newspaper publishing business, providing financing for Hanna Sr. to buy his first newspaper, the Concordia Sentinel in Concordia Parish. They consummated the deal on a handshake. Hanna moved on to buy three more newspapers in northeastern Louisiana, often turning to Boles and Adcock for advice.
Yet, for the most part, it because of his relationships with public officials and business leaders that Boles earned the reputation as one of the most effective and influential attorneys in Louisiana.
When then-Gov. John J. McKeithen sought advice on matters of importance he turned to two men: Boles, his dear friend for years, and the late Camille Gravelle of Alexandria. Besides McKeithen, Boles was close to another Louisiana governor, Edwin Edwards.
U.S. Sens. Russell Long, John Breaux and Mary Landrieu were friends of Boles', too. Like McKeithen, they often leaned on Boles for advice and asked for his help at election time, financially and otherwise. Boles' ability to raise campaign funds was a site to behold as well.
Through the years, Boles was recognized for his contributions to society, including his beloved alma mater, LSU.
When Boles was a student at LSU Law School he was president of the student body. Later, he was an original inductee in the LSU Law School Hall of Fame.
Boles also was a member of the LSU Hall of Distinction, and some five years ago, Boles was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame at Winnfield, birthplace of the Long family.
Boles began his pursuit of a college degree at then-Northeast Louisiana Junior College. He attended Northeast on a football and basketball scholarship, serving along the way as captain of the basketball team.
Boles never forgot Northeast.
In the 1990s when the University of Louisiana-Monroe (formerly Northeast Louisiana Junior College) had plans to build a new library, Boles used influence to convince the state to provide funding for ULM to build its new library. Today, the library building stands as the signature structure on the ULM campus.
During the height of World War II, Boles joined the Navy where he served in the South Pacific. Following his time in the Navy, Boles enrolled at La. Tech for a spell before backing his bags for Baton Rouge to earn his law degree at LSU.
Besides his son, Bill Boles Jr., and his daughter, Janet Boles Crawford, Boles is survived by his wife, Catherine. They would have been married 60 years on Sept. 1.
Boles had two other daughters, Diane Kirtland and Linda Campbell.
Boles also is survived by 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.