EDWARD FRANCIS KENNON, JR.

Submitted by: Billy Hathorn, Class of 1966


Francis Edward Kennon, Jr. , usually known as Ed Kennon (born August 31, 1938),[1] is a multi-millionaire Shreveport real-estate developer and a former Democratic member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, the regulatory body for oil, natural gas, and utilities. He represented north Louisiana on the commission for two six-year terms from January 1, 1973, until December 31, 1984. During his tenure, the panel was enlarged from three to five members under a provision of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974.[2] Kennon first represented thirty-three parishes in District 3 and then eighteen parishes in the smaller District 5. Kennon was a nephew of Governor Robert F. "Bob" Kennon, a conservative Democrat who served from 1952-1956.

Early years, education, business

Like his more famous "Uncle Bob", Ed Kennon was born in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. His father, F. E. Kennon, Sr., was known as Frank Kennon; his mother, Clara W. Kennon (1913-1997), was a native of Arkansas. F.E. and his brother, Webb Kennon, operated the former Kennon's Grocery in downtown Minden, the first in Minden to have price tags on the merchandise. After Floyd's death, Clara continued to operate the store, for which she had long handled the financial obligations. She also did tax consulting for individual clients. Kennon's paternal grandfather, Floyd Kennon (1871-1966), started the store.[3] Kennon has a younger brother, Michael Webster "Mike" Kennon (born 1942), a prominent Realtor who operates the Century 21 office in Minden.[4] After he completed Minden High School in 1956, Ed Kennon attended the Methodist-affiliated Centenary College in Shreveport, but he did not graduate. Instead, he entered the concrete business in Minden with Frank B. Treat, Jr. (1923-1994), and built the Kennon Apartments there. Later he became a high-powered developer in Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish, and adjoining Bossier City in Bossier Parish. He and his wife are directors of the Tri-State Bank and Trust in Haughton in Bossier Parish. Kennon purchased the bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.[5] and owns the Tri-State Sand and Gravel Company, the developer of Lakewood, a 600-home subdivision in Bossier City.[6]

In the political arena

Late in 1963, after Kennon's uncle failed to gain a Democratic runoff slot in a gubernatorial comeback attempt, Ed Kennon in a public speech in Minden endorsed former New Orleans Mayor deLesseps S. "Chep" Morrison, Sr., who was making a third bid for governor. (Robert Kennon sat out the runoff.) Despite Kennon's assistance, Morrison fared poorly in north Louisiana and lost the runoff to John J. McKeithen, a folksy lawyer from tiny Columbia, the seat of Caldwell Parish south of Monroe. Ironically, gubernatorial candidate McKeithen then held the PSC seat to which Kennon would be elected eight years later.

On November 6, 1971, Kennon ran unsuccessfully in a 10-candidate Democratic field for lieutenant governor in an effort to succeed the retiring Clarence C. "Taddy" Aycock of Franklin, the seat of St. Mary Parish in south Louisiana. Aycock instead ran for governor. Kennon finished third with 162,944 votes. The party nomination and the general election went to former New Orleans City Councilman James E. "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr., a former Morrison protege.[7] Closed primaries ended in Louisiana in 1975, but they return in 2008 only for congressional races. In the lieutenant governor's race, Kennon had to compete with a second candidate from Webster Parish, outgoing State Representative Parey P. Branton, Sr., of Shongaloo. Branton was allied with gubernatorial candidate John G. Schwegmann of Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs. Ironically, Schwegmann later became one of Kennon's colleagues on the Public Service Commission. Statewide, Branton polled only 53,295 votes, less than third of the votes that Kennon amassed.[8]

Election to the Public Service Commission

In the August 19, 1972, Democratic primary for the PSC, Kennon challenged incumbent John S. Hunt, III (1928-2001), a nephew of former Governors Huey Pierce Long, Jr., and Earl Kemp Long. Hunt's mother, Lucille Long Hunt (1898-1985), was a sister of the two governors. Also in the race was a Long kinsman named "Huey P. Long" (1929-2004)[9], then of Pineville in Rapides Parish. Hunt alleged that Kennon had recruited Long as a candidate to siphon away some of Hunt's pro-Long support. In the primary, Kennon led with 122,573 votes (47.1 percent) to Hunt's 106,212 (40.8 percent). Long procured a critical 31,692 votes (12.2 percent). Kennon led in twenty-three parishes in the sprawling district, which then reached as far south as West Baton Rouge Parish. He won 58 percent in his native Webster Parish and also procured pluralities in Natchitoches, La Salle, De Soto, Avoyelles, St. Landry, and the Long traditional stronghold of Winn. Hunt led in ten parishes, including Caddo, Bossier, Lincoln, Ouachita, and Jackson.[10]
Kennon easily defeated Hunt in the September 30 party runoff, 125,877 votes (58 percent) to 90,833 (42 percent). Kennon won twenty-nine parishes to Hunt's four. Hunt lost his native Lincoln Parish in the runoff by 176 votes and held his home base, Ouachita Parish, by a single vote, 15,502 to 15,501.[11] Kennon was unopposed in the November 7 general election, as no Republican candidate qualified for the ballot.

On September 16, 1978, Kennon won his second term in the revised Fifth District PSC seat. In the jungle primary, he polled 124,147 votes (71 percent) to 50,652 (29 percent) for intraparty rival Wayne Martin Pender (born 1940) [12] of Monroe. Kennon won all eighteen parishes.[13] Again, there was no Republican candidate for the seat, once held by Huey P. Long, Jr., himself.

Kennon joined the three-member PSC when he was thirty-four. The senior member and chairman, Ernest S. Clements, a Long protege, was seventy-five and nearing the end of a long public career. The two presented a contrast in age and faction. Clements left the PSC at the end of 1974. With the five-member board, Kennon served with fellow Commissioners John F. Schwegmann (son of John G. Schwegmann), Nat B. Knight, Thomas E. "Tommy" Powell of Eunice in Evangeline Parish, and chairman Louis Lambert, Jr., of Baton Rouge, a former and future member of the Louisiana State Senate. Kennon did not seek public office after his PSC term expired, but in 1994 he announced that he would run for governor in 1995. Instead he withdrew from gubernatorial consideration on August 2, 1994, and the seat eventually went to Republican Murphy J. "Mike" Foster, Jr., of St. Mary Parish, the grandson of a previous namesake governor.[14] Kennon was succeeded on the PSC by fellow Democrat Donald Lynn "Don" Owen (born 1930),[15] a former KSLA-TV news anchorman from Shreveport. In 2004, Kennon crossed party lines to contribute to the successful Republican candidate for the United States Senate, David Vitter of suburban New Orleans.[16]

Three marriages

Kennon was first married to the former Mary Virginia Nehring (1942-2002), "Miss Minden" in 1960, by whom he had a son, John Edward Kennon (1967-2003)[17]. He adopted two children by Virginia's first marriage to Rodney McMichael: Rodney Kennon (married to the former Jymme Story) of Bossier City[18] and Kelly Kennon Gillis (born 1964) of Haughton in Bossier Parish.[19] After Kennon and Virginia divorced, he married the former Jeanette "Jenny" Woodard (born 1939), who had twice been a "Miss Minden" contestant and was the widow of professional basketball player Jackie Moreland (1938-1971) and the mother of two children, Jennafer "Jenna" Moreland and James Steven "Jamie" Moreland. Kennon was a Minden High School classmate of both Jackie and Jenny Moreland. After ten years of marriage, Kennon divorced Jeanette.[20] He wed the former Brenda Evans (born 1958), the daughter of one of Jenny's former classmates. They have a daughter, Kari Melissa Kennon (born 1987).[21] Jenny Kennon, as she is now known, operates with her son, Jamie Moreland (born 1965),[22] Lea Hall Properites, a successful real estate company in Shreveport.[23]

The Kennons reside in a mansion in the fashionable Ellerbe Road area of southeast Shreveport.
 
References
 
Biography of Jeanette Woodard Moreland (Jenny) Kennon State 

Statement from the Louisiana Public Service Commission in Baton Rouge Louisiana State Election Returns, 1971, Baton Route;

Secretary of State Report of the Louisiana Secretary of State, "Lieutenant Governor Election Returns", November 6, 1971",

Report of the Louisiana Secretary of State, "Official Returns of the Democratic First Primary Election, August 19, 1972",

Member of the Public Service Commission, Third District" Report of the Louisiana Secretary of State, "Official Returns of Democratic Second Primary Election, September 30, 1972",

Member of the Public Service Commission, Third District Report of the Louisiana Secretary of State, "Official Returns of Open Primary Election September 16, 1978",

Member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Fifth District

Retrieved from Wikipedia.Org - Edward Kennon 

 

I heard my Mother, Mary Francis Kennon, daughter of W. P. Kennon, talk about Ed
and Mike Kennon. She had told me Ed was always a worker...riding on a
tractor and doing something to make money. We would sometimes see Mike on a motorcyle riding around.
F. E. Kennon, Ed and Mike's Daddy, gave my Mother her first job back in
her high school days. My Grandfather, Will Kennon was always doing
something with Webb Kennon. They were cousins and big buddies.


JASON LUMPKIN
BOGALUSA LA,