The updated information below was submitted on Sept. 1, 2017 by Gerald and serves as his Living Memorial for the Shipley Tribute.
In 1955 I graduated from class A Cathedral High School, which was taught by the Christen Brothers in Lafayette La. and was a two time all-state basketball player.
My Junior year high school coach, Boo Jones, had left to become an assistant coach at Loyola University in New Orleans and in my senior year he offered me a full scholarship.
I thought about it but declined because of the sincere efforts of Coach Reinhardt to retain local players. He knew I wanted to stay at home and live with my parents. My dad was in a terrible auto accident, lost his job and later opened Reaux’s Café.
Coach Reinhardt made arrangements for a full scholarship with extra benefits. They were to compensate me for the loss of my normal room and board, he offered me a monthly allowance so that I could help my parents waiting tables and loading the refreshment boxes.
Played on the varsity road team in my freshman year and was chosen to drive one of the three green station wagons. This continued into my sophomore and junior years.
In my junior year Coach Shipley was hired and it was a difficult transition. He was the toughest coach I had ever seen. His practices were so hard that we would lose so much weight from perspiring that we had to replenish this lose by going to the water fountain constantly and swallowing salt tablets.
Coach Reinhardt became the team trainer, schedule-maker and second father to us and he was good at it. I guess the pressures of college basketball finally got to him and I think he was relieved when Coach Shipley took over.
Coach Shipley began his first year by keeping most of what Coach Reinhardt had recruited, but added several players from Kentucky namely Don Church a center, Dean Church’s older brother who did not stay for four years and returned home. He nicknamed me “Reauxburger”, because of my dad restaurant where he, Howard Humphreys and Dale Griffith would frequent from time to time.
As I look at the group picture of the ’57-’58 team, 16 in all, I am struck with how many of us graduated from college, 11 that I know for sure and probably many more. The most significant was Tim Thompson who became a Civil Engineer, Land surveyor and Architect and Chuck Bramlet who became a GP and was my roommate on road trips.
Derwood Duke and I would cut-up some during practice and Coach Shipley could not stand that. He called us down on one occasion and embarrassed us in front of the team for good reason. He mellowed later in life and we became closer friends, especially when he became so sick. His life was 100% basketball and we were young and grew up to be men during his early coaching career.
He called me at Eglin AFB after graduation to see if there were any good players that I could recommend. We had won the base championship three times and he must have known that. I thought of one and tried recruiting him, but he had already committed to Kentucky.
I will always be grateful to the University for providing me with a first class education and a full scholarship during my first 4 years. After that I met the love of my life Patricia Ann Semar. We married in 1960, had 3 children who all graduated from USL. We have been married for 57 years and are very active with our grandchildren (9) and great grandchildren (2).
I am still working part time for C. H. Fenstermaker a local Environmental, Surveying and Mapping and Engineering company. It’s been 17 years and the best professional experience I ever had.
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Military Service: USAF 1960 to 1963 Eglin AFB sanitary & industrial hygiene engineer & base disaster control officer. Posted 5/27/2014