Longtime media business owner Morrow passes away

By By Eric Cormier / American Press

Longtime Lake Charles media business owner Lawrence “Gumbeaux” Morrow, 59, died Monday, leaving behind a legacy of business

leadership and social activism.

Morrow, who battled a number of health

issues over the last several years, gained notoriety in the city when he

began publishing

Gumbeaux Magazine in 1991. Initially, 10,000 copies of the free

publication were printed and over the course of two decades,

the enterprise grew into GumboMedia, which included a business

portfolio of Internet, radio and television productions.

The Rev. J.L. Franklin said he will miss his friend. “He was concerned about people and the community,” Franklin said. “He

tried to keep neutral on issues, but sometimes his passion stood out.”

Morrow covered issues related to the

African-American community, even though the scope of his media

organization was cross-cultural.

His magazine covered the Calcasieu Parish School Board, elections,

the James Byrd murder, and the prison release of Wilbert

Rideau.

“Wilbert and I talked yesterday (Tuesday), and he said Lawrence played a vital role in his case. Lawrence did everything he

could to get the word out about the case, and Wilbert is grateful,” Franklin said.

Mark Senegal, owner of Play Makers prints, views Morrow as an example and inspiration for anyone who is a business owner or

considering starting an enterprise.

Morrow, who could be considered a media wildcatter, was a driven person, Senegal said.

“He started in the paper and ink age. If you speed time up, maybe 15 years, who knows how large his network would have been

with today’s technology.”

District A City Councilman Marshall Simien said Morrow and Faye Blackwell, owner of KZWA-FM, are both pioneers in the local

media sector.

“They are two of the most important voices for the black community in Southwest Louisiana,” Simien said. “I liked Lawrence’s

energy. He was about the bottom line but had a soulful spirit.”

Bobby Celestine wrote regularly for Gumbeaux and said Morrow was interested in stories that looked at different sides of issues.

“Here was a community

(African-American) that didn’t have a voice despite having

African-Americans at the television station

and newspaper (in Lake Charles). There are other sides or issues

about the African-American community that do not get touched,

and Lawrence tried to do that,” he said. “He wanted to make sure

that all sides of a story are told since most of the time

mainstream media rely on whatever they get from the government.”

Morrow was interested in justice for the community too, Celestine said.

City Councilwoman-elect Mary Morris said Morrow was a believer in free press.

“He started the newspaper and gave people a voice. I hope someone will be able to do what he did. He also gave credence to

people who wanted to write and tell their own stories,” she said.

Morrow was born in Orange, Texas, in 1953 and was raised in Vinton.

Before starting the magazine, Morrow operated a copy repair and sales center on Hodges Street. Morrow also worked as a salesman

at radio station KXZZ-AM.

Morrow’s funeral arrangements are pending through Fondel Memorial Chapel.