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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A toast to Easter at lunch in Natchitoches

Tommy Whitehead, and Sandy and Ray Strother at Whitehead's Lake Sibley home, Natchitoches on Easter Sunday.

Photo by Paul L. Schuetze/The Times

Paul and I had a most special Easter...
Lunch at the art-filled Lake Sibley cottage in Natchitoches of Tommy Whitehead — a host/cook extraordinaire. He collects people from all over the world and you just never know who will be your dinner party. It just rarely gets better than a fete planned by Tommy.

This time around, the faces were mostly familiar.

The diners included: Shreveporters Dr. Ray and Jean Turner, Natchitoches residents Coley and Sharon Gahagan and their clan from points east and west, temporary Natchitoches residents Ray and Sandy Strother and Robert and Lois Rector of Clinton.

The event began with mimosas, wine or champagne and lunch with Tommy’s to-die-for corn chowder. Then: ham from Grayson’s, Spinach Madeleine, sweet potato and macaroni/ cheese, green bean casseroles, fruit salad with poppy seed dressing and trifle.

When we were in graduate school at LSU in the early 1960s, Ray Strother was one of our classmates, who particularly studied propaganda and its use in politics, a study that has gained him fame and fortune.

Though we had watched him admiringly from afar, it had been years since we ran into Strother.

He now lists home as Wise River and Bozeman, both in Montana, and Washington, D.C.

In the last six months or so, I have gotten reacquainted with Strother and met his wife Sandy through our mutual friend Tommy.

Paul and I visited with the Strothers at a gathering in Colorado in July and, of course, saw them again on Sunday.

Anyway, this past semester Strother and Sandy, hunkered down in Natchitoches where he holds the 2007-08 Erbon W. and Marie Wise Endowed Chair in Journalism.

("His class has been well received," said Tommy.)

After grad school, Strother went on to fame and fortune as a political consultant — working with such glittery politicians as President Bill Clinton — when he was running for governor of Arkansas — Gary Hart for president and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

He was recently inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants Hall of Fame during ceremonies in Santa Monica, Calif.
Strother, by the way, attended NSU on a track scholarship that he held for two years until he was asked to leave the institution because of his political activities — a move Strother is proud to tell about!

And, yes, he did give us his take on the current presidential race, which is quite interesting, but, after all, this was a party and I was not taking notes.

He is also a fine artist, with wood his medium, and a gourmet cook!



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