Lether E. Frazar will be inducted into the Merryville High School Hall of Fame as part of the school’s homecoming and centennial celebration, Oct. 18-19. Frazar’s legacy has deep roots in Louisiana’s educational and political spheres with a career that included three principalships, two college presidencies, a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives and an election to Lieutenant Governor under Earl Long, 1956-60.
Brenda Frazar Malone, Frazar’s youngest daughter, will be present to accept the hall of fame plaque on behalf of her father.
“To think my daddy has been gone now 59 years and yet will be remembered in so lovely a way by his alma mater, after all this time, just tugs my heart. He certainly made his mark in life and what a great heritage he left Lily Ann and me — and now our children and grandchildren.”
Raised in Merryville, Frazar was a 1922 graduate of Merryville High. Always dedicated to education, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now University Louisiana at Lafayette), a master’s from Louisiana State University and pursued advanced studies at Columbia University. Before his rise to Lt. Governor, he served as a principal in Longville, Jackson and Merryville, was president of Southwestern Louisiana Institute and served as dean and eventual president of John McNeese Junior College, now McNeese State University.
During his administration, McNeese attained four-year status. The school’s library was dedicated to him in 1961 after his 1960 death. Nola Mae Ross, former American Press reporter, recorded Frazar’s wife as saying during the dedication: “We had two children of our own and we always had a house full of extra kids from McNeese. They’d come to talk, to get advice, to get a meal, even borrow our car. They were like part of the family.”
In keeping with Ross’s reported nickname for Frazar, “Mr. McNeese,” Malone recalled her dad’s career as one truly passionate about the pursuit of education.
“Education was first and foremost always,” she said. “He just appreciated education and the value of it, especially coming from a small town.”
His political pursuits did not sway him away from his first love, she said. In fact, he carried the torch with him advancing several educational causes at the Capitol.
“I just think he thought he could do further things for education if he were in politics,” Malone explained.
As a legislator, he authored the state’s first Teacher Retirement Bill.
“Which to this day, is considered one of the best pieces of teaching retirement legislation in the country,” Ross reported.
As Lt. Governor he was instrumental in the creation of the T.H. Harris Scholarship Foundation law, one of the oldest state-funded higher education scholarships.
“Without that scholarship, many people, including myself, would not have had the means to go to college,” Myrna Cooley, Merryville High alumni association member and Frazar history curator, said.
Frazar’s hall of fame induction will take place on Oct. 19. For more information about the celebration or to see the schedule of events, contact a MHS Alumni Association member on the Merryville High School Alumni Association Facebook page, or visit www.merryvillehighschoolalumni.com.