Top 5 Famous People From Iberia Parish
Another week, another parish. This is our third week in our series of Famous People From Acadiana. We’ve already highlighted notable natives from St. Martin and Acadia Parish. Now, we head down Hwy 90 and pick up some sugar cane and famous people from Iberia Parish.
This was a tough one because there aren’t that many towns in the parish. Of course there is the main city, New Iberia. After that, the only major towns are Jeanerette, Lydia, Loreauville and parts of Delcambre. But I did my research and found some interesting folks. I think you’ll enjoy checking out what I came up with. Enjoy!
5. Vivien Thomas – Pioneering Cardiac Surgeon
Vivien Thomas was born in New Iberia in 1910 and rose above poverty and racism to become a cardiac surgery pioneer and a teacher of operative techniques to many of the country’s most prominent surgeons. Although he had no education past high school, Thomas developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s. Vivien Thomas also was the first African American without a doctorate degree to perform open heart surgery on a white patient in the United States. He died in 1985 at the age of 75.
4. Johnny Hector – Football Player
Johnny Hector was a star running back for New Iberia High School in the late 70s. He went on to a stellar career at Texas A&M before being drafted in the second round of the NFL draft in 1983 by the New York Jets. Hector played 10 seasons with the Jets with his best season being in 1987 as he tied for the NFL lead with 11 rushing touchdowns. Hector is now involved with the Peter Sports Management Mentor program. PSM is a group of former athletes who have joined to mentor, coach, and support individuals in their career in professional sports.
3. Bryan Lourd – Talent Agent
Bryan William Lourd was born in New Iberia in 1960 and attended high school with the aforementioned Johnny Hector. He then went to California and earned a degree from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Lourd is currently a talent agent for Creative Artists Agency where he has served as Partner, Managing Director and Co-Chairman since 1995. Some of his clients include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Madonna and many more A-Listers. Lourd was married to actress Carrie Fisher and they have one child together. The couple split up when Lourd came out as gay.
2. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco – Politician
A native of New Iberia, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had an interesting trek from mom and school teacher to politician. After graduating from then-USL in 1964 with a degree in Business Education, Blanco taught business at Breaux Bridge High School. She then worked as a stay-at-home mom roughly 15 years for her six children. She got into politics in 1983 as she served in the Louisiana House of Representatives. She then became the first woman in Louisiana elected to the Public Service Commission, where she served seven years. Her assent in politics continued in 1995 as she began the first of her two terms as Lt. Governor. Then of course in 2003 she was elected as Louisiana’s first female Governor. She decided not to run for re-election in 2007 and has returned to Acadiana to enjoy her family.
1. George Rodrigue – Artist
The man who made that little Blue Dog tops our list of famous people from Iberia Parish. Rodrigue was also born in New Iberia and attended the Brothers of the Christian Schools all-male high school called St. Peter College, now Catholic High. He went on to attend USL where he studied art before heading off to the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He later trained in New York, and became well known for his abstract expressionism of Cajun subjects. His most famous works include the Acadian heroine, Evangeline, portrayed in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie and the Cajun modern-day Evangeline, Jolie Blonde. Then in 1992 Rodrigue was honored as an Absolut Vodka artist, joining famous artists such as Andy Warhol and glass artist Hans Godo Frabel. The Blue Dog was used by both Absolut Vodka and the Xerox Corporation through national ad campaigns. George Rodrigue currently has galleries in Lafayette and New Orleans as well as Aspen, Colorado and Carmel, California.