Caddo Parish School Board remembers fallen member

By Nikki Henderson |

Published 09/03 2014 10:53AM

Updated 09/03 2014 10:56AM

Two-time Caddo Parish School Board President Lillian Priest passed away Tuesday night after a tenacious battle with breast cancer.

Elected to the board Nov. 2, 2004, Priest became known for her tireless work to implement policy and advocate for legislation designed to better the lives of Caddo Parish students.

An active member of the Caddo Democratic Party, Priest was nearing the end of her third term on the Caddo Parish School Board serving District 7. During her tenure, she earned not only the respect of her constituents, but her fellow board members who twice selected her as board president.

Caddo Parish School Board President Carl Pierson said, "Lillian was an exceptional woman.  She always was aware of what was happening in the Legislature and the impact Baton Rouge could have on our schools and constantly kept us in the loop. She will be missed, and I feel blessed to have gotten to work beside her the past few years."

Never one to stay on the sidelines, Priest's accomplishments were many. As a former city planner, Director of the Community Development Department for the City of Shreveport and top executive to Mayor John Hussey, Priest had 15 years of municipal government experience from which to draw. Additionally, she was co-owner and Marketing and Development Officer of JaLi`Ve Enterprises, a Shreveport planning and consulting company.

Moreover, from 2008 to 2012 she was the Chair of the Caddo Parish Democratic Party. Constantly involved in community activities, she served on numerous boards including Crimestoppers Shreveport, Sci-Port Discovery and the Downtown Rotary Club.

Privately, Priest was a loyal friend and close confidante to many. In her spare time, she enjoyed not only a good laugh, but also reading and playing golf.

Longtime friend Lydia Jackson said, "Lillian loved life and lived and served with an enthusiastic and exuberant spirit.  Our community is a better place because she generously shared her time and talent, with so many people, especially the citizens and children of District 7."

In recent years, Priest became known for her unfailing dedication to the students and staff of Caddo Parish Public Schools. In her time on the Caddo Parish School Board, she selected two superintendents Dr. Gerald Dawkins and current superintendent Dr. Lamar Goree. Priest described Goree as a tireless and energetic educator and often remarked on his devotion to students.

Goree said, "Mrs. Priest is irreplaceable. There is no comparison to her passionate advocacy and belief in the sheer power of public education. Caddo Parish is better for having her to serve our district, and we mourn our community's loss. She exemplified so much of what is great about our district, and her immense strength and courage throughout her illness shows just how much she was committed to serving until the end."

She was a graduate of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and also studied toward a master's degree in liberal arts from Louisiana State University- Shreveport.

Priest was a proud Golden Life member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Shreveport Alumnae Chapter. Since becoming a member in 1972 at Northwestern, she was a fixture of the Iota Mu Chapter - frequently participating in all alumni events and reunions. 

Priest was a long-standing member of St. Mary Baptist Church where her outreach continued as she served as chair of the scholarship and education committee.

Priest announced last month she would not seek re-election due to health concerns. Information regarding services is pending and will be updated as soon as available.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the St. Mary Baptist Church Family Life Development Center Building Fund at any branch of the Shreveport Federal Credit Union.

Priest was 60 years-old.

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