Monday, May 6, 2019

Taliaferro Hardtner Gaharan (1908-1969)

Portrait from the 1940 Louisiana State University "Gumbo" yearbook.

  After several days of highlighting oddly named political figures from Louisiana, we conclude our stay in the Bayou State with Taliaferro Hardtner "Bud" Gaharan, a longtime LaSalle Parish physician who also made a name for himself in the field of high school basketball, coaching the Jena, Louisiana high school team to a state championship. Gaharan earns a spot here on the site due to his serving a term in the Louisiana House of Representatives, as well as for his outstandingly different name! A lifelong Louisianan, "Bud" Gaharan was born in Tullos, LaSalle Parish on December 9, 1908, the son of Phillip Steele (1874-1951) and Lille Mae (Alexander) Gaharan (1878-1962).
  A student in the public schools of his native parish, Gaharan would go on to attend the Urania High School, where he was a standout basketball player. As the son of a doctor, Gaharan decided to follow in his father's profession and in the late 1920s enrolled at the Louisiana State University, where he joined the boxing team. Due to financial hardship, Gaharan would put his studies on hold to earn extra income, first finding work in road construction, and, later, as a teacher at the Jena High School beginning in 1928.
  In the year following his joining the staff of Jena High School, Gaharan succeeded Jay Pipes as coach of the school's basketball team, the Jena Giants. While only 20 years old at the time of his becoming coach, Bud Gaharan's youth proved to be a non-factor when he coached the team to a record 42-0 season in 1929-30, winning the Louisiana state basketball championship in the process. He would further take the team to that year's National Basketball Tournament held in Chicago, where the Giants would place second to Athens, Texas, losing in a close match, 22-16. Despite their loss on the national stage, Gaharan and the Giants were later feted with a banquet by their hometown and Gaharan himself was later acknowledged by the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate as "Louisiana's finest coach."
  Gaharan continued as coach for six more years retiring in 1936 with a record of 234 wins, 35 losses. He later returned to the study of medicine at Louisiana State University and graduated in 1940. After interning at a Shreveport hospital, Gaharan returned to his native parish to begin practice, and in addition to having "his own clinic" in Jena, developed a reputation for "exceptional diagnostic skills before diagnostic technology was available".  "Bud" Gaharan married in March 1940 to Avis Lanelle Richardson (1914-2001), to whom he was wed until his death. The couple would have two sons, James Phillip and George Hardtner.

From the 1940 Gumbo yearbook.

  A former member of the LaSalle Parish school board for one term, "Bud" Gaharan set his sights on higher political office in 1955, when he announced his candidacy for the Louisiana House of Representatives. Throughout the latter part of 1955 and into 1956 campaign notices touting Gaharan's candidacy were featured in the Jena Times, which noted his status as a former teacher, school board member, and his medical practice. Intoning that the office of state representative should never be an office of profit, the times further profiled Gaharan as knowing:
" The needs and problems of all our people, he has the sympathetic understanding, the intelligence and strength of character to meet and consider all issues that may arise in Legislature on the basis of the best interest of the people of the State of Louisiana as a whole and LaSalle Parish in particular without reward or fear of reprisal."
A Gaharan campaign notice from the Jena Times, December 15, 1955.

 After winning election to the legislature in early 1956 as a Democrat, Gaharan was named to the house committees on Conservation, Enrollment, and Public Health, Welfare and Charitable Institutions. This term (which extended from 1956-60) also saw Gaharan successfully guide a bill through the house that earmarked $500,000 for improvements to Catahoula Lake, including improved conditions for duck hunting, cattle grazing, recreational activities, and "maintaining more than 50 miles of excellent fishing streams."
  In 1959 "Bud" Gaharan launched his reelection bid for the house, announcing that 
"It will be my purpose to run a clean race, based wholely on my accomplishments during the four years that I have served the people of this parish as their representative in the state legislature in Baton Rouge."
  Running for reelection against three opponents, Gaharan would lose out in the vote count on election day, the victor being Democrat Chester Floyd. After leaving the legislature Gaharan continued to operate his clinic in Jena, and in the latter period of his life was beset by a lengthy illness, one that would eventually claim his life on February 11, 1969, at age 60. Taliaferro Hardtner Gaharan was survived by his wife and sons and was interred at the Jena Cemetery

From the Jena Times, February 13, 1969.

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