W. E. Whetstone
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William Edwin Whetstone, known as Ed Whetstone (August 29, 1908 – February 28, 1987), was a businessman and civic leader from Monroe, the seat of government of Ouachita Parish in northeastern Louisiana, who served from 1962 to 1974 as the Fifth Congressional District member of the Louisiana State Board of Education, a body now known as the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Whetstone was born in the village of Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish in northeast Louisiana to Will Whetstone, a farmer, and the former Luta Craig (1883–1967). His formal education was limited to the Oak Ridge public school; he was self-educated thereafter. On October 3, 1931, Whetstone married the former Josephine Elizabeth Hudson (1911–1984), daughter of C. R. Hudson and the former Annie Childres of Shreveport.
From 1928 to 1977, Whetsone was employed by the former South Central Bell Telephone in, first, Shreveport, then New Orleans, Birmingham, Alabama, and Monroe. He was a company district manager for fourteen years. He was a member of the Monroe Utilities Commission from 1975 to 1978.
A Democrat, Whetstone was chosen by his colleagues as vice president and, then, president of the 11-member State Board of Education, which had one member for each of the eight congressional districts (now six) and three Louisiana Public Service Commission districts (now five). His colleagues included the later state Education Superintendent Louis J. Michot of Lafayette. During part of Whetstone's tenure on the board, William J. "Bill" Dodd, a former lieutenant governor from Baton Rouge was the state superintendent until Michot unseated Dodd in the 1971 Democratic primary. Other board of education members who served during Whetstone's tenure included Enoch T. Nix of Bossier City, J. Marshall Brown of New Orleans, Harvey Peltier, Sr., of Thibodaux, Robert H. "Bob" Curry of Shreveport (son of a 19th-century state representative, Robert Houston Curry), and Fred L. Tannehill, a Pineville businessman.
Whetstone was elected to the state board in the Fifth District in 1962. He defeated the Republican George Snellings, of Monroe, 17,988 (55.6 percent) to 14,352 (44.4 percent). Whetstone lost two parishes in the district, his own Ouachita and Tensas, where Snellings polled 51.5 and 58.2 percent, respectively. Snellings' showing was the best tabulation for a Republican candidate in Louisiana in 1962. Snellings would later become the father-in-law of Democratic former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
In 1970, Whetstone in his primary election turned back his fellow Democrat Orville Earnest Elkin (1924-1982) of Winnsboro, an educator and coach, whose widow, Faye Tarver Elkin (1926-2007), was from 1984 to 2000 the clerk of court for Franklin Parish. Whetstone then defeated the Republican Neil R. McDonald, 26,463 votes (72 percent) to 10,307 (28 percent). In his brief campaign, McDonald spoke of "bridging the gap between politicians and parents" and declared his opposition to policies of the former United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which he called "false social doctrines". He urged the state to shun participation in federal programs with "price tags" not readily observed. McDonald's strongest support came in Ouachita Parish, where he finished with 35.3 percent of the ballots. In most of the precincts in northeast Louisiana, the Whetstone-McDonald race was the only contest on the ballot in the general election that year, as U.S. Representative Otto Passman ran without opposition.
Whetstone held other positions impacting education. He was a 16-year member of the Board of Trustees for State Colleges and Universities. He was president of the Scholarship Foundation for the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then Northeast Louisiana University). He served two appointed terms on the Louisiana Educational Television Authority. He also served two elected terms on the Monroe City School Board.
His civic activities were endless: baseball umpire and coach, president of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber's "Man of the Year" in 1978, member of the West Monroe Chamber of Commerce, director of the YMCA and the American Red Cross, chairman of United Way, Rotary International, American Farm Bureau Federation, Ouachita Valley River Association, and the Louisiana Forestry Association. He was cited for "Outstanding Citizen Recognition" by the Louisiana Municipal Review. In 1986, Northeast Louisiana University granted Whetstone an honorary LL.D.
Whetstone was United Methodist and active in the Northeast University Wesley Foundation. After retirement, he farmed in Morehouse Parish near Monroe. Other prominent Morehouse Parish planters include the Barhams, brothers Edwards and Robert J. Barham, who also served in the Louisiana State Senate.
The Whetstones' son and only child, Eddie Craig Whetstone (July 22, 1932 – April 12, 2014), served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953, played minor league baseball, and graduated in 1965 from Northeast Louisiana University. He retired as district engineer after thirty-two years with Bell South. He and his wife, Helen, resided in West Monroe and had five children. A Roman Catholic, he is interred at the Oak Ridge Baptist Cemetery in Oak Ridge, along with his parents.
- "Whetstone, William Edwin". A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (Louisiana Historical Association). p. 838. http://www.lahistory.org/site40.php. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- The Lagniappe, Louisiana Tech University yearbook, 1970, p. 33
- Billy Hathorn, The Republican Party in Louisiana, 1920-1980, (Natchitoches: Northwestern State University, 1980), p. 118.
- "Faye Tarver Elkin". Findagrave.com. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/17770918. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- W. E. Whetstone advertisement, Tensas Gazette, St. Joseph, Louisiana, July 30, 1970, p. 4
- "Neil McDonald Announces for Education Post", Tensas Gazette, October 8, 1970, p. 1.
- Hathorn, The Republican Party in Louisiana, p. 185
- "Eddie Craig Whetstone". findagrave.com. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Whetstone&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSst=20&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=127915462&df=all&. Retrieved July 27, 2015.