Gerald J. Theunissen

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Gerald Joseph "Jerry" Theunissen​


Louisiana State Senator for District 25 (Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis parishes)
In office
September 1996​ – January 14, 2008​
Preceded by Cecil Picard
Succeeded by Dan "Blade" Morrish

Louisiana State Representative
for District 37 (Acadia, Calcasieu,
and Jefferson Davis parishes)​
In office
1992​ – September 1996​
Preceded by James P. Martin​
Succeeded by Dan "Blade" Morrish​

Born August 19, 1933​
​Place of birth missing
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Reaud Theunissen​ (married 1956-2018, her death)
Residence Jennings, Jefferson Davish Parish, Louisiana​
Alma mater Jennings High School]]​

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
​ University of Nebraska (Omaha​)

Occupation Banker; Businessman
Religion Roman Catholic

Gerald Joseph Theunissen, known as Jerry Theunissen (born August 19, 1933), is the vice president of Jeff Davis Bank in Jennings in Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, who served as a state representative for District 37 (1992–1996) and as the state senator for District 25 (1996–2008) in the southwestern portion of his state. He was term-limited in 2007 from seeking a fourth term in the Senate.

Background

Theunissen graduated in 1951 from Jennings High School and attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, then the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Nebraska. He is a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, in which he served from 1953 to 1974. He has been active in Jennings civic and community affairs, including membership on the Louisiana Advisory Commission on Pesticides from 1985 to 1991.

In 1985, the Jennings Rotary International gave Theunissen its "Outstanding Community Service Award." He has served on the Jennings Industrial Development Board and as state director of the National Agricultural Aviation Association, the interest group for crop dusters. He is also a past president of the Greater Jennings Chamber of Commerce.

Theunissen, who is a Roman Catholic, was married from 1956 until her death to the former Patricia Reaud (1929-2018).[1]

Political life

Theunissen was twice elected to the House in 1991 and 1995 and in his first state Senate race in 1996 as a Democrat. He switched to Republican affiliation and is listed in the official records as a member of the GOP in the 2000–2004 legislative session.[2] He was also succeeded by a Moderate Republican, Dan "Blade" Morrish.​

In 1987, Theunissen forced incumbent Democratic Representative James P. Martin into a runoff election. Though Martin prevailed, 5,918 (51.2 percent) to Theunissen's 5,631 (48.8 percent),[3] he retired from the seat in 1992. Theunissen again ran and defeated fellow Democrat Andy Buisson of Jennings in the 1991 primary, 9,549 votes (60.5 percent) to 6,243 (39.5 percent).[4] In 1995, Theunissen was unopposed for his second House term, of which he served less than a year before moving up to the Senate.​

When Governor Murphy James "Mike" Foster, Jr., named Democratic state Senator Cecil Picard as education secretary, a special election was held on August 24, 1996, to begin the process of choosing a successor to Picard. Theunissen led the contest with 7,086 votes (29.5 percent). In second place was the lone Republican on the ballot, party chairman Mike Francis, a conservative. Francis finished with 6,112 votes (25.5 percent). Four other Democrats shared the remaining but crucial 45 percent of the ballots.[5] In the runoff election, Theunissen defeated Francis, 20,320 votes (55.7 percent) to 16,172 (44.3 percent).[6]

Theunissen was unopposed for his second and third Senate terms in the primaries of 1999 and 2003. In addition to Jefferson Davis Parish, District 25 includes portions of Acadia, Calcasieu (Lake Charles), Cameron, and Vermilion parishes. Because of Theunissen's long-term legislative interest in education, then Governor-elect Bobby Jindal named him to his educational transition advisory council.[7]

References

  1. Obituary of Patricia Theunissen. tributes.com. Retrieved on December 19, 2019.
  2. Membership in the Louisiana State Senate, 1880–2012. legis.state.la.us. Retrieved on December 19, 2019.
  3. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, November 21, 1987.
  4. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 19, 1991.
  5. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, August 24, 1996.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, September 21, 1996.
  7. Bobby Jindal Selects Education Transition Team. bayoubuzz.com. Retrieved on October 31, 2009.

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