In Memoriam

Friday, March 16, 2018

Say what, San Antonio Express-News?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 5:11 PM


Gambit arts editor Will Coviello caught the headline on the Tom Benson obituary today in the San Antonio Express-News. And there's more:

Tom Benson Jr., the Texas automobile, banking and media magnate who owned the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans franchises, died Thursday. He was 90.

“Tom was a friend and an ally, and I admired him greatly. He was a proud Texan, who also embraced his leadership role in the state of Louisiana,” said Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. 

San Antonio: We know you wanted the New Orleans Saints, and that the Benson family gave millions to charities in Texas, and that they have homes in Texas, but just: no.

Born here, lived here, stayed here, gave millions to local charities, owned both of the city's major sports franchises — Benson was a New Orleanian.

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Remember Tom Benson — and the deal that kept the Saints in New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 3:59 PM

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson (left) and former Gov. Edwin Edwards worked together to keep the team in New Orleans — with political capital and financial breaks by the state. - PHOTOS BY DERICK HINGLE (BENSON) AND CHERYL GERBER (EDWARDS)
  • New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson (left) and former Gov. Edwin Edwards worked together to keep the team in New Orleans — with political capital and financial breaks by the state.

Tom Benson rose from a working-class childhood to the pinnacle of sports royalty as owner of the 2010 Super Bowl champion Saints. He left an indelible mark on the team, on his hometown, and on the NFL before his death last week at the age of 90.

Benson’s rise is an authentic (and legendary) rags-to-riches story, but it began with an old-fashioned Louisiana political deal: getting the state to help finance his 1985 purchase of the Saints. I covered that story as it unfolded in the Louisiana Legislature. It was as bumpy a ride as a pair of successive 7-9 football seasons — except it had a much happier ending.

The Saints were the laughingstocks of the NFL from their inaugural season in 1967 through 1984, going 18 straight seasons without a winning record. Original owner John Mecom Jr. was universally derided for meddling in team affairs, and by the end of the ’84 season the team appeared headed to another city.

Long-suffering Saints fans were beside themselves. Amid the uproar, Benson, a little-known businessman who had built his fortune on auto dealerships and bank holdings, quietly assembled a team of investors to buy the team. But his offer came with a catch: the state of Louisiana needed to ante up as well.

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Funeral Mass and visitation for Tom Benson announced

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 2:16 PM

Gayle and Tom Benson.
  • Gayle and Tom Benson.

Tom Benson, the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner who died yesterday at 90, will be remembered at a private funeral March 23 at noon at St. Louis Cathedral. The funeral Mass will be broadcast on WLAE-TV.

Public visitation will be held March 21 (10 a.m.-7 p.m.) and March 22 (8 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Notre Dame Seminary (2901 S. Carrollton Ave.)

In lieu of flowers, the Benson family requests donations to the Ochsner Clinic Fund, Notre Dame Seminary or St. Louis Cathedral.
Location Details St. Louis Cathedral
St. Louis Cathedral
Jackson Square, 615 Pere Antoine Alley
French Quarter
New Orleans, LA
(504) 525-9585
Location Details Notre Dame Seminary
2901 S. Carrollton Ave.
New Orleans, LA
(504) 523-6479

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tom Benson: 1927-2018

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 6:25 PM

  • Tom Benson.

Tom Benson, the billionaire car dealer, philanthropist and owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, died today at Ochsner Medical Center at the age of 90. He had been hospitalized with the flu for a month.

The New Orleans Saints site has a full obituary. Funeral and memorial services have not been announced.

Reactions from local officials:

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

SLIDESHOW: Second line for 'Mr. Okra,' New Orleans' beloved produce vendor

Posted By on Sun, Feb 25, 2018 at 9:31 PM


New Orleanians by the hundreds turned out today at the Marigny Opera House for a visitation for Arthur Robinson, aka "Mr. Okra," who sold fruits and vegetables from a brightly decorated truck for decades.

Mr. Okra, who was 75, died Feb. 15. Following the visitation, a second line wound to BJ's Lounge for a celebration of his life.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Second line for Mr. Okra set for Feb. 25

Posted By on Wed, Feb 21, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Mr. Okra at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. - PHOTO BY FRANK ETHERIDGE
  • Mr. Okra at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

A second line honoring Arthur "Mr. Okra" Robinson will immediately follow his walk-through visitation services on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Robinson — the iconic singing produce vendor whose brightly colored truck toured New Orleans neighborhoods for years — died Feb. 15 at age 75.

Visitation is at Marigny Opera House from 1 p.m.-2:40 p.m., after which the doors will close and Robinson's family, a brass band and police escort will lead a second line through the Marigny. It moves down Dauphine Street toward Lesseps Street in Bywater, turns left on Lesseps, and concludes at BJ's Lounge (4301 Burgundy St.).

Joining the second line are Kinfolk Brass Band and Darryl “Dancingman504” Young.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Funeral services, second line announced for Mr. Okra

Posted By on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 at 6:05 PM

Mr. Okra at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. - PHOTO BY FRANK ETHERIDGE
  • Mr. Okra at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Update: The second line has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, immediately following the visitation.

Arthur "Mr. Okra" Robinson's funeral will be held Sunday, Feb. 25. The iconic New Orleans fruit and vegetable vendor died Feb. 15 at age 75.
A walk-through visitation is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Marigny Opera House (725 St Ferdinand St.), to be followed by a reception at BJ's Lounge (4301 Burgundy St.). There also is a fundraiser to cover funeral costs.

A memorial second line is tentatively set for Monday, Feb. 26. A route and time have yet to be announced.

His daughter Sergio Robinson plans to be back on the road soon, carrying on the singing vendor tradition from the front seat of Mr. Okra's unmistakable painted truck.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

'Mr. Okra,' New Orleans iconic produce vendor, dies at 75

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 11:19 PM

  • Mr. Okra.

"Mr. Okra," Arthur Robinson, the singing produce vendor who drove the streets of New Orleans for decades selling fruits and vegetables from his brightly painted truck, has died at 75. The news, which spread on social media tonight, was first confirmed by The New Orleans Advocate.

In 2009, when Mr. Okra's truck died, New Orleanians held fundraisers to buy him a new one. That year he was the subject of a documentary, Mr. Okra, by executive producer Andre Jones and director T.G. Herrington. He also was a fixture at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Robinson talked to Gambit in 2012 about his career and his legacy:
Oh, things change. I remember when children would see you coming, they'd call for their parents, saying, "Mama, mama, here comes the vegetable man!" Now, you pass by, some of these areas they got here, you ask the kids if their parents want something and they look at you like you're crazy.
A family member told The New Orleans Advocate Robinson died at home of natural causes. No funeral services or memorials have been announced.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Remembering a tireless advocate: Johnny Jackson Jr.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 7:17 PM

Johnny Jackson Jr. in 1991.
  • Johnny Jackson Jr. in 1991.
There aren’t many first-generation civil rights leaders left in New Orleans, and we lost another one Jan. 24 when former City Councilman and state Rep. Johnny Jackson Jr. died after a battle with cancer at the age of 74.

A tireless advocate for civil and human rights his entire life, Jackson was a consummate activist who reluctantly entered public life after serving as a community organizer in the Desire-Florida neighborhoods of New Orleans’ hardscrabble Ninth Ward.

Jackson grew up in Desire and knew its people and its struggles first hand. He served as director of the Desire Community Center during a 1970 standoff between New Orleans cops and local members of the Black Panther Party, who used the center that Jackson led to offer breakfast and tutoring programs for children, according to a story in The Advocate.

The next year, black voters in New Orleans saw their first real opportunity to elect one of their own in the state House of Representatives district that included Desire. Jackson was recruited by the nascent Ninth Ward political organization SOUL to run for the seat.

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Legendary New Orleans photographer David Richmond dies at 69

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 12:53 PM

Photographer David Richmond - COURTESY OF CHERYL GERBER
  • Photographer David Richmond

Photographer David Richmond was known for his portraits and chronicling New Orleans culture and was a familiar face around the city.

“He was a lost romantic,” says longtime friend Russell Rocke, who helped Richmond in his later years. “He was a workaholic who in the tradition of Clarence Laughlin was obsessive with his work. He loved New Orleans. He loved James Booker.”

Richmond died Jan. 13. He was 69.

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