For more than 30 years, Friends of LPB has honored Louisiana’s best and brightest as Louisiana Legends and this year a Natchitoches man is among the honorees. They have distinguished themselves in fields as diverse as philanthropy, science, sports, environmental conservation, and the humanities.
Thomas N. Whitehead (Gamma Psi–Northwestern State ’72), expert and preservationist for the Clementine Hunter Collection, will be honored at the Louisiana Legends Gala on Thursday, April 28th at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He will join the prestigious list of 149 past Louisiana Legends which includes Academy and Grammy Award winners, star athletes, Pulitzer Prize winners, and esteemed dignitaries.
Whitehead was a member of Northwestern State’s faculty for 30 years, serving as an associate professor of journalism and director of International Programs. He served as an advisor for various student media, providing training to students preparing for a professional career. He also oversaw the university’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brought numerous leading figures to campus.
A strong advocate for preserving Northwestern State’s history, Whitehead co-authored the book “Northwestern State University at 125” which was published in 2009. He led efforts to make the university’s past more accessible through its Traditions website, which showcases digital collections of the university’s student newspaper, yearbook and alumni magazine and information on alumni honorees, past presidents and historic campus buildings.
Whitehead worked as a production location consultant for the film “Steel Magnolias.” He also worked as a local contact and executive assistant to the film’s producer Ray Stark. Whitehead was a co-author of the “Steel Magnolias Scrapbook.”
One of the leading experts on Natchitoches Parish artist Clementine Hunter, Whitehead worked on documentaries and co-authored and edited books about Hunter.
He is active in local historic preservation organizations and served on the Louisiana Film and Video Commission, the board of directors of Friends of Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the national advisory council of Kappa Alpha Order social fraternity. He is a member of the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the Honor Society of Phi Eta Sigma. Since retiring from NSU, he was worked as a governmental affairs and special events consultant.
Tom has served as the Alumnus Advisor to Gamma Psi Chapter since 2003 and a member of the Gamma Psi Housing Corporation since 2011. He is a member of the Northwest LA Alumni Chapter and the Natchitoches, LA Alumni Chapter. Tom was inducted into the Order’s White Province Court of Honor in 2006 and the Irwin Province Court of Honor in 2019. He is a member of the Loyal Order, Forever KA, and a three-year member of the KAOEF’s Crimson & Gold Society. In 1999, he was presented the highest individual honor an alumnus can receive, the Knight Commander’s Accolade, by then Knight Commander James R. Estes.