Author Topic: Poulan history article  (Read 2878 times)

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Re: Poulan history article
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2015, 11:15:30 am »
Charles T. Beaird

In 1946, Beaird returned to Shreveport, where he became vice president of the J. B. Beaird Company, which his father had begun as a welding service in 1918. During the war, the company had grown to be a major manufacturer of metal products, with his older brother, J. Pat Beaird, Sr., as president. Charles Beaird worked there as a youth sweeping floors, so he knew the business, a process that he would duplicate in his future enterprises.

Following the sale of that company, Beaird purchased a small chainsaw company founded by Claude Poulan and his brothers and renamed it Beaird-Poulan. Beard built the company into the fourth largest maker of chainsaws in the world. When it was purchased by Emerson Electric in 1973, Beaird became chairman of the Beaird-Poulan Division of Emerson, known for its WeedEater products.

In 1952, Beaird joined childhood friends in an effort to create a viable GOP in Shreveport, which had been an all-Democratic city since Reconstruction. In 1952, Beaird became chairman of the Caddo Parish Republican Executive Committee of Caddo Parish. In 1956, he was elected to the Caddo Parish Police Jury, the equivalent of county commission in most other states. He was one of the first Republicans elected to public office in Louisiana since Reconstruction. He was elected at the local level as there was no Republican gubernatorial candidate running in the 1956 general election. Later that year, he managed the unsuccessful campaign of then Republican Calhoun Allen, who challenged incumbent Overton Brooks of Louisiana's 4th congressional district. After switching to Democrat, Allen won election as Shreveport's public utilities commissioner (19621970) and mayor (19701978).

Beaird attracted national attention in 1956, when he gave a seconding speech for the renomination of President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California.

In 1959, Beaird and Tom Stagg, the GOP chairman for Louisiana's 4th congressional district became involved in an intra-party feud with the Louisiana national committeeman, George W. Reese, Jr., of New Orleans, the party's U. S. Senate nominee in 1960 against Allen J. Ellender, and LeRoy Smallenberger, the Shreveport lawyer, party functionary, and subsequent state chairman from 1960 to 1964. Stagg objected when Reese endorsed, with Smallenberger in agreement, a slate of candidates for party position on both the state and parish committees. Stagg, backed by Beaird, the then chairman of the Caddo Parish Republican Executive Committee, described Reese as having attempted to assemble a group of "yes-men" and had hence "earned the enmity of a large number of fair-minded Republicans".[1]Reese, however, defended his endorsements, most of whom won their primary races, on the premise that he as a statewide party leader was obligated to recommend suitable candidates to rank-and-file voters, many of whom were unfamiliar with the credentials of the various candidates.[2]

In 1960, Beaird was one of the ten elector candidates in Louisiana for the unsuccessful Nixon/Lodge ticket. Though he entered politics as a conservative, his wife and children and his own experiences gradually changed him into a liberal. However, unlike Calhoun Allen, he did not join the Democratic Party he remained a liberal within the more conservative Louisiana GOP.

Beaird was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas; a director of Winthrop Rockefeller's Winrock Enterprises in Arkansas, a member of the Young Presidents Organization; a partner in Westport Real Estate; a founder of the Centenary College Committee of 100; chair of the Citizens Committee on Desegregation for the Caddo Parish Schools; chair of the United Fund Campaign; vice president of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, and co-chair of Shreveport's Biracial Commission.

Fascinated with philosophy, he re-enrolled at Centenary College, where he was already a trustee, earning his B.A. in 1966. He became a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and was accepted in Columbia University where he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1972 at the age of 50. He returned as assistant professor of philosophy at Centenary College, where he taught for seven years and was inducted into the Centenary Alumni Hall of Fame.
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