Willie Kees

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William Ezra "Willie" Kees, Jr.

In office
July 1, 1946 – August 1952
Preceded by Rollo C. Lawrence
Succeeded by H. L. Willis

Born August 30, 1916
Place of birth missing
Died June 12, 2002
Pineville, Rapides Parish
Louisiana, USA
Resting place Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Eloise Hutchinson Kees
Residence Pineville, Louisiana
Occupation Businessman
Kees Park entrance

William Ezra Kees, Jr., known as Willie Kees or as Willie E. Kees, Jr. (August 30, 1916 – June 12, 2002),[1] was a businessman  who served from 1946 to 1952 as the mayor of Pineville, Louisiana, the home of Southern Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College.

Kees was descended from a prominent Central Louisiana family which operated Kees General Store on the Red River. He was the third of four children of William "Billy" Kees, Sr. (1881-1938), who was named the Pineville postmaster in 1911,  when the mail office was located in the Kees store.[2] His mother was the former Julia Elizabeth Bradford (1886-1961). He had two sisters, Ruby Kees Wise (1905-1975) and Myrtle Lucille Kees Freeman (1913-1998),[3] and a brother, Stafford Kees (1919-1991).[4]

A Democrat, Kees was elected mayor at the age of twenty-nine. That same year a flood of the Red River spilled over into Pineville because of levee height and strength. However, the taller and stronger levee held in the sister city of Alexandria. Mayor Kees set forth to bring the levee on the eastern side of the river on par with that in Alexandria.[5]

In 1948, Pineville had only one police car and one fire truck. With city finances at a low ebb, Kees went to his store, Kees General Store on the Red River to obtain gasoline for both vehicles. Nearly seventy years later the size of the city and its service employees have mushroomed beyond what many at that time would not have thought likely or possible.[6] Kees resigned as mayor midway in  his second term in August 1952 to become director of the 1,150-patient Louisiana Colony and Training School at nearby Kingsville. He was succeeded as mayor by Horace Luther "H. L." Willis, a five-year member of the Pineville City Council and a long-term building superintendent for his alma mater, Louisiana College.[7]  Early in 1955, Kees was installed as superintendent of the state school. This brought him into conflict with clinical director William P. Hurder, a psychologist and physician, with whom he had earlier shared authority. Kees' promotion touched off charges of "politics" in his selection. Then state Representative Cecil R. Blair of Alexandria defended the selection, but because of the controversy, Kees resigned from the school to return to the private sector.[8][9]

Kees and his wife, the former Eloise Hutchinson (1917-2005), and other family members are interred at Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville.[1]    Kees Park, located at the intersection of the Pineville Expressway and Louisiana Highway 28 East, is named for William Kees, Sr. The facility hosts a large number of community events.[2]   

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Willie E. Kees, Jr.. finagrave.com. Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kees Park historical marker. waymarking.com. Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  3. William E. Kees, Sr.. findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  4. W. E. Kees. familysearch.org. Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  5. Frederick Marcel Spletstoser (2005). Talk of the Town: The Rise of Alexandria, Louisiana, and the Daily Town Talk. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 125–126. ISBN 0-8071-2934-8. Retrieved on July 24, 2015. 
  6. Oberia Price (June 8, 2005). Pineville's rich history dates to 1714. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk'. Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  7. From the Past. The Alexandria Daily Town Talk (August 26, 1952). Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  8. Hurder takes post as colony superintendent. louisdl.louislibraries.org (January 19, 1955). Retrieved on July 24, 2015.
  9. State Colony Resignation Brings Rift. Lake Charles American-Press (January 19, 1955). Retrieved on July 24, 2015.