Podcast #5– Reflections by former Rayville Mayor Joe Kalil, on what Rayville meant to him, ca., 1991 – AUDIO
(To play the clip, see media link at beginning of the post, or click here) Recorded as part of a collection created for the first annual Pickin’ and Ginnin’ Festival, entitled “A Great Place to Call Home” (Originally compiled by Amelia Grace Jordan)
Notable Photos from Kalil’s Time as Mayor of Rayville
REMEMBERING JOE KALIL
Below are several posts from various newspaper clippings which celebrated the impact Mayor Kalil had over the course of his life, as well as his obituary, and other notable events from Kalil’s time in office as Rayville’s Mayor for 24 years. – Luke
Memories of Joe Kalil, as written by Jennie Joe Siscoe, ca., 1996
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 08 Feb 1996, Thu • Page 4, by Jennie Joe Siscoe
This column is going to be filled this week with random thoughts of our dear departed Joe Kalil. It wl be hard to write since we are all saddened by his death. It seems that ever since moved to Rayville with my family in 1942 Joe has been an important part of this community Sand certainly brings memories to my mind. I guess the first time I ever saw Joe was when I was in Rayville High School. He was working in Baker’s Cafe.
Remember the old trolley car? I can just see him behind the coun-m ter serving up the great chili burgers and other great food Mrs. Bessie Baker offered in that cafe. This was where the high school kids hung out in those days. I remember how hard he worked for George B. Franklin as foreman of the lumber mill and in other capacities. He served that company well for 28 years. I ran a picture of him dressed in a Santa suit as one of the old pictures in the Richland State Bank ad in The Beacon several years ago. He was giving out fruit and candy to the people in the Holly Ridge community, a thriving community at that time.
We went to the same church, Rayville United Methodist Church, where he served in many official capacities. One thing most of us will remember was the wonderful barbecue chicken he helped with every May which the Methodist Men’s Club sponsored as a fund raiser. And what about all that wonderful smoked meat he iiad and could anyone cook a steak better than he? He taught me how to cook a roast with soy sauce and Lea and Perrin. My family just loves it.
I remember when he served as Alderman for the Town of Rayville. This was his first step to a political career in which he did so well. Joe never met a stranger. There was no doubt that when he ran for mayor of Rayville that he would win and continue to win and serve for 24 years, distinguishing himself as the first full time mayor Rayville had ever had.
When I worked for another newspaper, I covered the Town Council meetings. He was so nice to me by explaining what was going on. He would interrupt the meeting when something was being discussed and ask me if I understood. If I didn’t, then he took time to explain. I had never covered meetings like this before. I didn’t know what HUD stood for or Block Grant, EPA, or FHA etc. Joe would take time out to tell me that HUD stood for Housing Urban Development, EPA was Environmental Protection lAgency and FHA was Farmer’s Home Administration. This was all new to me and different from teaching school-history, social studies and English. What a change! But he was very helpful in helping me muddle through until the meetings became routine and easier to write. He had come a long way from serving burgers to being mayor. I had a new respect for him.
I never thought he was so smart but I soon realized he was very-smart. Remember when we got the Civic Center? Although this was not built entirely by the town but by the parish too, Joe took such pride in this much needed center. He saw to it that it was booked correctly and everything ran smoothly. Rayville won the Cleanest City Contest many times while he was mayor. This was a project of Rayville Garden Club and we might say also Joe Kalil. He took such pride in the city being clean.
The years passed so fast that we don’t know where they went. It seems that he had always been a part of Rayville ever since I moved here in 1942. It will be hard to think of Rayville without him but life has to go on. To his wife, Flora, I offer my most sincere sympathy and love. To Mary and Annie, his sisters, I know you will miss him and we will, too. We also grieve with you. May God bless and keep you during this time of bereavement.The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 08 Feb 1996, Thu • Page 4
A Tribute Written In Remembrance of Joe Kalil, as remembered by Retha Goforth Campos, of Texas
The Richland Beacon-News. Rayville, Louisiana. 22 Feb 1996, Thu • Page 5, by Retha Goforth Campos
Although I moved away from Rayville in 1964 after graduating from Rayville High School, I’ve always had fond memories of Joe Kalil. I ‘ was deeply touched and saddened by the hews ‘of his death and share his loss with the Town of Rayville. The following will explain how Joe Kalil left his mark in my life.
I grew up on Dr. Harrison Jordan’s place out on the River Road. There were eleven of us children to help bring in the cotton crop year after year. My dad, Mr. J. R. Goforth, was a sharecropper for Dr. Jordan, or as my dad would call it “working on halves.” Therefore, we had little money for any frills or fancy things, so to speak, just a lot of love and attention from our parents, taking la. to “church, teaching us right from wrong, self-respect, and gratitude.
When things would get tough (and they often were) and the cotton crop didn’t do so well, our dad would sit around and worry and talk about going down to the welfare office for help. We kids would not hear of him doing this (we would be too ashamed). We didn’t want our school teachers and classmates to know or think we were on welfare, and we never were, we were too proud.
When I was a junior in high school, I was able to start attending some of the high school functions. I even occasionally would go over to Yancey’s Drug Store after school, where all the high school kids hung out. One day at Yancey’s, Joe Kalil came in. He looked at me and said hello; then he went over and asked someone who I was. Joe usually knew who most of the juniors and seniors were because he helped with the planning of the proms, banquet dinners, high school dances, and other school events, but because I didn’t go down-town that often, he didn’t know me.
He made the remark to that person that I was one of the prettiest girls he had seen in Rayville. The person told me what he said; this really boosted my ego and made me feel good about myself, and help build my self-esteem.
You know when you’re a teenager, times can be hard and things can get tough, and all you need is a boost to lift you up. That’s what Joe did for me. I later saw Joe numerous times and on various occasions. He always had something nice to say and I’ve never forgotten him for it. His compliments struck deep with me and helped me have self-confidence and gave me a feeling of self-worth. It prepared me for the challenges that lay ahead. After graduation, I moved to Dallas, Texas, a place I had never been before. I had confidence in myself and I knew I would make it and I did. I obtained a job at Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. soon after arriving and worked until 1984, leaving with a vested retirement.
I now work for Texas Instruments as an administrative assistant and have been there for 10 years. Joe probably never knew how much he meant to me and at a time when I needed it. I only wish I had told him myself before his death. I have continued to make my home in the Dallas area along with my husband, Herman, of 28 years. We have a son and a daughter, Angela and Aaron. Angela graduated from North Texas State University and now works as a microbiologist. Aaron attends Stephen F. Austin State University. I’ve come a long way from the cotton fields of a sharecropper. Much to the credit of encouragement and kind words of a good man, Joe Kalil. You could say I had a high school girl crush on Joe and you know high school crushes go deep and are always remembered.Written by Retha Goforth Campos in 1996, 1817 Tree Line Drive Carrollton, Tex., 75007
NLU Club Honors Joe Kalil, ca., 1996
…Kalil was “Mr. NLU” in northeast Louisiana for many years. He was the leader of the Richland Parish Area Booster meetings and highly productive in enlisting members and raising funds for the Athletic Scholarship Foundation. He served as. president of the NLU Alumni Association for 1981-82 and served as president of the NLU Athletic Scholarship Foundation for 1982-83. He was a member of the Steering Committee for Operation 1A campaign to raise over one million dollars for the stadium expansion. In 1989 Kalil was the recipient of the J . H. (Slim) Scogin Exemplary Service Award, which is given each year to a person who has demonstrated exemplary service to the NLU Athletic program and Booster Club over a long period of time, and has shown that “extra measure’ of sacrifice and dedication that is necessary in having a successful Booster Club and Athletic Program.The Delhi Dispatch, Delhi, Louisiana. 15 Aug 1996, Thu • Page 9
Town of Rayville Names Municipal Building In Honor of Joe Kalil, ca., 1996
From The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 28 Mar 1996, Thu • Page 16
…The town of Rayville has named its municipal in for the former Ion g-time mayor to honor his work for he improvement of the town. The board of aldermen at the regular meeting Monday night unanimously approved a request by Mayor Isam Berry that the municipal building now be called the Joe Kalil Memorial Municipal Building. jn making the suggestion, Mayor Berry said the effects, both long term and short term, of the former mayor on the town, “cannot be measured, but will remain as a tribute to a men who worked for and with the citizens of Rayville.” In backing the resolution, Alderman George Tennant pointed out the work which the former may did “for our youths, and his efforts in keeping them busy and out of trouble.The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 28 Mar 1996, Thu • Page 16
Obituary for Former Mayor Joe Kalil, Who Died On His 74th Birthday
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 08 Feb 1996, Thu, Pages 1 & 3
Joe Kalil, long time business and civic leader, and Mayor of the Town of Rayville for 24 years died early Sunday morning after suffering a heart attack in his home. He later died in the Richardson Medical Center. Mayor Kalil was fatally stricken on the morning of his seventy-fourth birthday, February 4. Funeral services were held at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Rayville First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Frank Jones officiating. Interment followed in the Rayville Masonic Cemetery under the direction of Mulhearn Funeral Home of Rayville with Masonic Rites conducted at the graveside.
Mr. Kalil, the son of immigrant parents from Lebanon, held the mayor’s post; from 1970 until 1994. For ten years prior to that, from 1960 until his election as mayor in 1970, he was a member of the Board of Aldermen. Active in state levels as well, Mr. Kalil was a member and leader of the Louisiana Municipal Association, serving in 1974 and 75 as its president. For the remainder of his life, he was a valued member of the LMA Executive Board. In addition, he served on the Louisiana Municipal Retirement System and had been chairman of that board for the past 20 years.
A long and untiring member of the Rayville United Methodist Church, he served as president of the Methodist Men and was for many years chairman of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, in addition to other positions. Receiving his education in the Richland Parish Schools, Mr. Kalil attended and graduated from Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, and had been an active supporter of the Alumni Association, serving as president in 1982-83 and chairman of the annual fund-raising drive in 1985. The group awarded him the Golden Arrow Award in 1986 and the Slim Scogin Service Award in 1989.
An active Mason, he was a Past Master of the McGuire Masonic Lodge, Barak Shriner and past president of the Rayville Kiwanis Club. In 1956 he was awarded the Young Man of the Year by the Rayville Jaycee organization. Mr. Kalil worked for the George B. Franklin & Son Company in Rayville and Holly Ridge for 28 years. He was instrumental, along with the Rayville Garden Club, in promoting Rayville in the “Cleanest City Contest,” an honor that Rayville won in numerous years.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Margarete Whitman Kalil, who died in 1974; and two older half-brothers, George and David Mitchell. Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Flora Boles Kalil of Rayville; a brother and sister-in-law, George and Marie Kalil of New Orleans, two sisters, Mrs. Annie Kalil Durham of Rayville and Mrs. Mary Kalil Andrus of Ontario, Oregon; a sister-in-law, Ms. Angelina Mitchell of Thibodaux; daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and Ronnie Morris of Rayville; son and daughter-in-law, Dennie and Vivian Ashley of Kingwood, Tex.; grandchildren, Kylie Morris and Travis and Amy Ashley; nieces and nephews, Angie Hanmerli, Linda Schoff, Jimmy Mitchell, Sandra Eby, Susie Heath, Sara Upton, David Kalil, Jeanie Koenemann, Cindy Wedig, Mary Lou Fiorello, Ann Marie Durham Denson, and one great-niece, Stacy Lyn Denson. Pallbearers were Fred Scott Franklin, Don Hebert, Freddie Holtzclaw, Langston Yancey, Billy Stodghill, Walter Cochran, Charles Germany and Jim Berry. Honorary pallbearers were members of the Louisiana Municipal Boards on which he served” and all friends whose lives he touched. The family requests that memorials be made to the Rayville United Methodist Church.The Richland Beacon-News
08 Feb 1996, Thu • Pages 1 & 3
LA Municipal Association Honors The Late Joe Kalil With Scholarship
The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana. 27 Jun 1996, Thu • Page 2
The Louisiana Municipal Association, along with family friends of the late Joe Kalil, are honoring the former mayor of Rayville by establishing the Joe Kalil Memorial Scholarship Endowment at Northeast Louisiana University. The LMA established the endowment through the NLU Foundation with a $10,000 initial contribution. The scholarship will be awarded to juniors or seniors who are. residents of Louisiana with a minimum 2.5-grade point average majoring in government, pre-law or history. “In the 70-year history of the LMA only three scholarships have been established,” said Gordon King, executive director of the LMA.
“Many fellow board members and mayors knew of Kalil’s love for the University and supported the contribution.” Kalil served as mayor of Rayville from 1970 until 1994. He died February 4 of this year. During his association with NLU, Kalil served as president of the NLU Alumni Association, from 1982 until 1983; and chairman of the 1985 Annual Fund Drive. He was the 1986 recipient of NLU’s Golden Arrow Award recognizing the alumnus of the year and the 1989 recipient of the J. H. (Slim) Scogin Service Award.The Richland Beacon-News
27 Jun 1996, Thu • Page 2