The LSU Law community is honoring, with the deepest respect and gratitude, the long life of leadership and service of John P. Laborde, one of its most accomplished alumni and strongest supporters, who passed away on Oct. 21 at the age of 97.
“Mr. Laborde’s impact on the Paul M. Hebert Law Center and our LSU Law family cannot be overstated. His deep connections to LSU Law span more than seven decades, beginning in 1946 when he enrolled as a law student after serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific under General Douglas MacArthur,” said LSU Law Interim Dean Lee Ann Lockridge. “His many years of support to his alma mater have included volunteering to assist in an array of leadership roles as well as making transformational gifts to the institution, including those establishing the John P. Laborde Energy Law Center, creating four professorships in energy law, and funding ten endowed scholarships.”
Laborde graduated from LSU Law in 1949, having been inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa honorary fraternity and serving as its President. He then began practicing law in Marksville, where he had grown up, ultimately moving to New Orleans in 1950 to enter the emerging energy sector as District Land Manager with Richardson & Bass. Along with two of his brothers, Alden and C.E. Laborde, he founded Tidewater Inc. in 1956. He served as Chairman and CEO of the publicly owned company for 38 years, during which he helped Tidewater grow into the largest oil and gas marine owner and operator of vessels in the world. Upon his retirement in 1994, Tidewater established an academic chair at LSU in his name.
Through the years, Laborde was an active supporter of LSU and the Paul M. Hebert Law Center. He was a longtime member of the LSU Law Chancellor’s Council, he served on the Law Center’s Board of Trustees and its Forever LSU Campaign Steering Committee, and he was chair of the LSU Law Annual Fund Campaign from 1999 to 2003. In 2012, he and his family made a $2 million gift to LSU Law to establish the John P. Laborde Energy Center. It remains the largest donation to the Law Center in its history.
“Given my lifetime career in the energy service industry, and recognizing how my law degree served me well in navigating the complexities of running a public company in the international arena, I am pleased to give back to the school that has given me so much,” Laborde said in 2012. “My gift will establish the Energy Law Center and hopefully serve as the catalyst for future growth and perfection in the energy law field.”
Laborde also made many contributions to LSU that supported professorships and scholarships, the LSU War Memorial Fund, Cades of the Ole War Skule and the Military Endowment, the Alumni Fund, the Flagship Fund, the LSU Foundation, and the Louisiana Sea Grant endowed chair program, among many others initiatives and organizations.
“Above all, Mr. Laborde was quite simply a great man, and he will be sorely missed,” said Lockridge. “Through his leadership and philanthropy, he positively affected the lives of countless people in our LSU Law family, a legacy that will continue long into the future.”
Laborde enrolled at LSU in 1940 when he was just 16 years old and two years later he was named Cadet Colonel of the ROTC. In 1943, during World War II, he was called to active duty in the U.S. Army and he served in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands before being selected to join Gen. MacArthur’s Headquarters’ staff and was moved to Manila and then Japan. Following Japan’s surrender, he served in the Headquarters’ staff in Tokyo for an additional year before returning to the U.S. He was awarded a Bronze Star and other campaign ribbons for exceptional service in support of combat operations, and he received an Honorable Discharge in 1946, having attained the rank of Captain. Laborde spoke about his service in the U.S. Army in a video interview with LSU Law that you can watch below.
Among the many awards and accolades Laborde was bestowed with during his life, he was named to the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction in 1983; he received an Honorary Doctorate from the university in 1995; he was honored as the LSU Law Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1993; and he was inducted into the Cadets of the Ole War Skule in 1998. Laborde always attributed his success in life and business to his education and experiences at LSU and the Paul M. Hebert Law Center.
“I believe that whatever success I have been able to achieve is due in great part to my years at LSU,” he said in 2012. “Way back then, I formed what was to become many lasting friendships with men and women from all walks of life. These friends provided a lasting inspiration for all I aspired to be in those early years and hoped to become later in life.”
Laborde is survived by his wife, Sylvia Laborde; three sons, Cliffe F. (LSU Law, ’76), Gary L., and John Peter Jr.; a daughter, Adrienne Laborde; 16 grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind a large extended loving family and many friends who admired him for his example of leadership, integrity, honesty, service, and family values. Read Laborde’s complete obituary. Read Laborde’s complete obituary.