Lawyer Politician

George B. Holstead

Quick Facts

IntroAmerican politician
Was Lawyer
From United States of America
Type Law
Birth 31 July 1924, Ruston, Louisiana, U.S.A.
Death 27 December 2002
(aged 78 years)
PoliticsDemocratic Party


George Burnham Holstead, Jr. (July 31, 1924 – December 27, 2002), was an attorney in Ruston, Louisiana, who was a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1964-1980.

Pioneer family

Holstead was descended from a pioneer Lincoln Parish family. His paternal grandfather, John Burnham Holstead, was born on December 18, 1849, in Bienville Parish and settled as a young man in Farmerville, the seat of Union Parish, where he became the editor of the newspaper Junior Record. In 1874, he moved to the community of Vienna in Lincoln Parish near Ruston to assume operations of The Vienna Sentinel. He was married to the former Elizabeth T. Tanner (1868–1934).

Meanwhile, the self-educated John B. Holstead studied law independently by reading in the library of an attorney in Vienna. In 1878, at the age of twenty-nine, he was admitted to the practice of law. John B. and Elizabeth Holstead had two daughters, Kay (born 1878) and Bernice Holstead (born 1882). The family moved to Ruston in 1884, and two sons followed, Clyde B. Holstead (1886–1937) and George B. Holstead, Sr. (January 12, 1895 – 1946). John Holstead had a successful law practice in Ruston, and in 1912, he was elected judge of the 4th Judicial District (now 3rd District) and served until 1916. He was one of the founders of Louisiana Tech University, established in 1894 as Louisiana Polytechnic Institute. Holstead died at his Ruston residence on December 13, 1933. George Holstead, Sr. (1895–1946), married the former Lois Oliver (1895–1993). In addition to George, Jr., the couple had an older son, James Oliver Holstead, who died in Dallas, Texas.

Holstead’s early years

George Holstead, Jr., attended Louisiana State University for a year after high school and then enlisted in Shreveport in the United States Army. He served in the United States Army Air Corps, forerunner of the Air Force, as part of the 63rd Bomb Squadron, Fifth Air Force, with action in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He was also a general aviation pilot during much of his adult life. After military service, Holstead returned to Louisiana Tech, where he was an outstanding track and field athlete, having won the conference championship in the 100- and 220-yard dashes. He was an invited participant in the 1948 Olympic trials held in New Orleans.

Holstead obtained his law degree in 1951 from the Louisiana State University Law Center in Baton Rouge. Among his law school classmates were future U.S. Representative Gillis William Long and state Representatives Lloyd George Teekell of Alexandria and Risley C. Triche of Napoleonville.

Legislative service

Holstead’s legislative tenure in District 12, which became a single-member district in 1972, corresponded with the administration of Governor John J. McKeithen and the first two of four nonconsecutive terms of Edwin Washington Edwards. Holstead succeeded L.D. “Buddy” Napper, a Ruston attorney and a former semi-professional baseball player from Ruston, who had served from 1952-1964. In 1980, Joe Bleich of Ruston assumed the House seat, but he resigned in 1983 to become an associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court for Place 4. Bleich was unseated in 1996 by the Republican state district court Judge Chet D. Traylor of Winnsboro.

During his latter tenure, Holstead was the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He was instrumental in obtaining state appropriations to foster the growth of his alma mater, Louisiana Tech, and nearby historically black Grambling State University in Grambling in Lincoln Parish.

Family and death

Holstead married the former Mary Ellen Cochran (August 9, 1928–September 8, 2004), and the couple had four children: Nancy H. Vascocu and husband, Norman Jerome Vascocu (both born 1948), of Rayville, Helene H. Shaw of Monroe, Kate Graham and husband Danny of Ruston, and George B. Holstead, III, and wife, Sandy, of Mercer Island, Washington, and thirteen grandchildren. Holstead’s son-in-law, Jerome Vascocu, originally from Minden, is the president of Richland State Bank in Rayville. Like his father-in-law, Vascocu was a track star at Louisiana Tech; he previously participated in track and field at Minden High School as well. Vascocu ran on the Louisiana Tech 440-yard and relay teams.

Holstead died at the age of seventy-eight of respiratory complications at Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston. Services were held on December 29, 2002, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ruston, where he was a member. Interment was at Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston.