Friday, 10 September 2010 17:01

Louisiana Senator, Ken Hollis of Jefferson Parish, Passes On

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Longtime State Senator Ken Hollis died early Friday morning from cancer. He was 68.

Senator Hollis entered politics in 1980 as a Jefferson Parish Councilman. Two years later, he ran for State Senate in District 9 serving Metairie and the state for the next 25 years until term limits forced him to leave office and return full-time to his insurance business.


Senator Hollis spearheaded campaigns for video poker and casino gambling, along with the Citizens Insurance Corporation, the Jefferson Performing Arts Center and he worked for years to keep the New Orleans Saints from leaving.

He is survived by his wife Diane, and five children and stepchildren.

Visitation will be held at Metairie's Lake Lawn Funeral Home Sunday from 7pm-10pm and Monday from 11am-2pm with a service to follow at 2pm.

by Walt Bennetti, Publisher of

EDITORIAL: Jefferson Parish Loses A Great Leader

By Walt Bennetti, Publisher

Death is a funny thing. You can study it. You prepare for it. You try to convince yourself you’re prepared for it, but you’re not. No one can convince me that you’re ever ready to hear about the death of a loved one, a friend or anyone that you know.

When I learned Friday morning of the death of Senator Ken Hollis, I was stunned, and I knew it was coming.

The Senator’s accomplishments for Jefferson Parish and Louisiana would fill up pages: the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation; the Jefferson Performing Arts Center; his years of work fighting to keep Tom Benson from moving the Saints.

But, I’d rather tell you a little about some of my experiences with Ken Hollis, the man.

I consider myself lucky to have known the Senator and his wife Diane for several years. I don’t remember when I met Senator and Mrs. Hollis and we didn’t travel in the same social circles (except for the third Tuesday of each month), but I did have the pleasure of interviewing the Senator on the radio on several occasions, speaking with him off air on many more occasions, and spending many hours standing on street corners waving signs with the Senator and Diane.

Senator Hollis was always kind to me, even when we disagreed. When I wrote or said something that the Senator disagreed with, he told me so. But not in the condescending tone that many politicians use. Senator Hollis would make his points and counterpoints in a pleasant, friendly way and then he would stop. There would be a long pause which I always assumed was the Senator’s way of giving my brain time to catch up with and process his points.

Senator Hollis was truly larger than life but he never made me feel small. He always encouraged me to dig deep for the truth and find it, even if others didn't agree with me.

Several times Senator Hollis told me that, unlike some in the media, I was "fair". I always took that as the highest compliment that someone could give me.

My last radio interview with Senator Hollis occurred in January of this year, after former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard had resigned. Rumors swirled that weekend about possible Interim Parish President candidates and I kept hearing that the Senator was a strong possibility.

First thing Monday morning, I called the Senator to ask him to appear on my show later that day. He said that he would be glad to come but didn’t think he had a shot at the job since he hadn’t been contacted by anyone within the Parish.

Later in the day, several members of the Jefferson Parish Council held a press conference and named Steve Theriot as Interim Parish President. I contacted Senator Hollis thinking that he might not want to appear. Instead, the Senator told me to call at the appointed time and we had a great interview.

Naturally, the Senator was disappointed that we wasn’t selected. Senator Hollis had spent decades working to improve Jefferson Parish and the Parish Presidency, even on an Interim basis, would have capped off his career. He would have been an excellent choice and one that the citizens of Jefferson Parish could have rallied around as we worked to restore honor in our failed government.

While the Senator believed that Steve Theriot was a good choice, he was more disappointed that the process for selecting an Interim Parish President wasn’t more open and given more consideration.

I asked the Senator if he would consider running in this October’s special election to fill the remaining year of Broussard’s term. The Senator replied, “Walt, I’m done with politics.” And that was the end of the interview.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of our friendship and Senator Hollis wasn’t done taking my phone calls.

I called the Senator several times since that last interview to talk about Jefferson Parish politics and get his thoughts on the legislature. The Senator always took my phone calls or promptly returned them, something a man of his stature didn’t need to do. While I tried to be careful and not use too much of the Senator’s time, Senator Hollis was always very gracious to me and I will never forget his kindness.

Senator Hollis worked tirelessly to make Jefferson Parish and our state a better place to live.

I’m sure that not everyone always agreed with Senator Hollis and I’m sure he had some enemies. You can’t spend almost 30 years in politics without making a few enemies. The Senator took some controversial positions on Video Poker, Casino Gambling and Gay Rights. But, regardless of the controversy or the issue, I don’t know anyone that didn’t like and respect Ken Hollis.

I know that I will miss Senator Hollis. Jefferson Parish and Louisiana will miss him too.

Louisiana Sen. Ken Hollis, The Passing Of A Gentle Man

Jeff Crouere Remembers Sen. Ken Hollis

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