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For Love and Life

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Icon
Dec 1st, 2021


Both Jim and Anne Lockhart meet people easily and with a perceptible warmth. Although neither was born here, these two have been an integral part of this community for almost all of their lives. Each has influenced countless people – young and old — through many varied interactions with the public. 

For Jim, a career in the hospitality industry was the perfect fit for both his organizational and management skills. Managing a private club for 35 years required both. Jim’s unflappable personality (plus a remarkable dry wit) served him well as he spent decades working with the staff to create a team responsive to the wishes and needs of their dining public. 

For Anne, her two careers – both focused on developing long-term personal and financial relationships with all sorts of people – were an equally perfect fit. Whether she was representing her bank or her university, Anne always met any challenge with grace, charm, and a delicious sense of humor. Because they have each contributed so much to the quality of life in our area, Jim and Anne Lockhart are our BayouIcons for December.

Jim’s parents, Bill Lockhart and Ruth Simmons, met at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1945. Both had grown up in different cities — Ruth, in Bay Springs, Mississippi; and Bill in Paris, Tennessee. Before WWII, Jim’s dad and his dad’s sister were semi-professional dancers. At that time there were lots of dance studios. Jim’s dad claimed his skills to be firing a cannon and dancing, so he became a dance instructor. On weekends, the dance studios often sponsored dances as a way of attracting new students. “Mom, already an accomplished ‘toe tapper’ went to the dances and eventually became an instructor. Dad said it was love at first sight and told her, ‘I’m going to marry you.’ Mom’s answer was, ‘Who is this NUT?’,” Jim remembers with a laugh. “The ‘nut’ grew on her!”

The two subsequently fell in love and married. Over time, they welcomed four children – Billy Lockhart, Jr., then Jim, and then two younger daughters, Elizabeth and Carolyn. Ruth was a stay-at-home mom until Jim was in middle school. At that time, she began working at the Mississippi Department of Welfare. When the family moved to Monroe in 1962, she worked at the Louisiana Department of Welfare until her retirement in 1987.

Bill worked for the Morgan & Lindsey Five & Dime Company (later acquired by G. C. Murphy) for 34 years. Jim’s dad’s transfers through work meant that the family moved often. As a result, Jim spent parts of his childhood in Bay Springs, Clarksdale, and Jackson, Mississippi, and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before finally settling in Monroe. Jim’s father retired in 1986. Once in Monroe, Jim continued his education at Neville High School and Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana  Monroe). 

Anne’s path to Monroe took a more westerly turn. Her mother, Alice Scoggin, was born in Dallas in 1924 and grew up in the Highland Park area just two blocks from Southern Methodist University. When Alice graduated from Highland Park High School, she wanted to go to the University of Texas – Austin. Her parents thought it would be better – and more financially feasible — if she lived at home and attended nearby SMU. Such a plan held no appeal for Alice, however, so she and a close friend moved to San Francisco to “see the world” and hopefully find gainful employment. Fortunately for all concerned, the two were hired at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland and worked there until the attack on Pearl Harbor. With the world at war, and the United States now in the thick of it, the two adventurous women returned home.

Anne’s father, Bill Alleman, was born in 1919 and grew up in the small farming community of Alleman, Iowa. He graduated from Alleman High School and Iowa State University. With a B.S. in Agriculture Engineering in his pocket, any career plans in farming were stalled when he enlisted in the Naval Air Corp as the war broke out. He served with distinction as a bomber pilot in the Pacific theater and afterward was based with the Naval Reserve in Dallas. There he flew for Braniff Airlines and became close friends with another Navy bomber pilot, John Scoggin. John introduced Bill to his sister, Alice, and love soon followed. They had two children – Anne, born in 1950 in Dallas, and Mark, born in 1953 in Fort Worth.

Anne’s father worked for Container Corporation in Dallas and Fort Worth before becoming a sales manager for Olin Corporation. The family transferred in 1958 to Clarendon Hills, Illinois, where Bill helped start a new plant in Joliet. In 1960, the family moved to Monroe when Bill was transferred for the final time. Anne enrolled in Monroe City Schools at Lexington Elementary as a 4th grader, and then went through Lee Junior High and Neville High School.

Like Jim’s mother, Anne’s was a stay-at-home-mom for a number of years. When her children were older, Alice became Director of Christian Education for Covenant Presbyterian Church. In 1971 she became Executive Assistant for NLU President George T. Walker, a position she held until his retirement. His successor, NLU President Dwight Vines, retained her in that position until her retirement a few years later. 

Lessons Learned Growing Up

Jim is quick to name his parents and his grandparents as the ones who helped guide his youth. His paternal grandparents passed away when Jim was very young, but he has many happy memories of time spent with his maternal grandparents in Bay Springs. Summers there were wonderful, and holidays were especially fun. “We spent most of our holidays in Bay Springs,” Jim remembers. “Christmas remembers. “Christmas was my favorite holiday because we got to see our cousins, too.”

There were two life lessons in particular that Jim learned from his parents. “They taught me to work hard, and to treat everyone with respect,” he says. “These lessons impacted both my personal and professional life.”

Jim’s earliest jobs indicated that he learned those lessons well. He worked in the Morgan & Lindsey stockroom for 50 cents a week, mowed lawns, threw newspapers, and worked for A & P Grocery as a bag boy and stock clerk. At A & P Jim also learned butchering, a skill that would come in handy later. When he was a senior in high school, he went to work for Cascio Enterprises at the Chateau Restaurant. “I worked as bartender and general flunky there, doing whatever they couldn’t get anyone else to do,” Jim says. “They allowed me to work around my school schedule.”

Like  Jim, Anne credits her parents with being her first mentors. The two attended every school event and every church play while their children were growing up. Anne remembers them teaching Sunday School together from the time she and her brother were quite young all the way through until their high school graduations. “And versus working against each other with Mom’s spirit of spontaneity and Dad’s measured, methodical guidance, they were the perfect blend of supportive and loving mentors,” Anne says. Christmas was Anne’s favorite childhood holiday, whether spending it with her mother’s smaller family or her father’s much larger one. Trips to Iowa to visit her paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were glorious affairs. These were always special times. “As we drove along the acres and acres of corn fields on the way, we would come to these two giant white silos that had ‘ALLEMAN’ painted in black across them,” Anne remembers. “I thought I was so famous!”

The life lessons taught by her parents? To be kind to and respectful of everyone – especially the elderly, from whom much may be learned. They encouraged her to always do her best, even if she didn’t know just exactly what she was doing. Most important, they taught her to “. . . smile and laugh as often as possible. It lightens your load and is highly contagious!”

Career Paths Can Be Winding Roads

  Jim majored in commercial art and photography at ULM and planned to build a career in advertising. Earlier, he had considered becoming a tree farmer, but that plan disappeared. By the time he entered college, Jim was already working in the hospitality business – a business in which he would end up spending 53 successful years. His earliest hospitality experience was delivering hamburgers to the NLU dormitories from Flynn’s Dime Spot (which later became the original Johnny’s Pizza on DeSiard). “Particularly memorable were the deliveries to the girls’ dorms,” Jim admits. “They would come down in their robes to pick up their burgers!”

Jim’s career in hospitality was mentored by a number of men well-versed in the business. Jim calls Tony Cascio his greatest career mentor, and says that he helped him to truly understand the nuts and bolts of the hospitality industry. The three family members – Tony Cascio, brother Joe David Cascio, and brother-in-law Jack Fontana, Sr. – were instrumental in Jim’s later success managing the Lotus Club.

  When Jim graduated from ULM, the oil embargo of the 1970’s had gutted the advertising industry. Approximately half of those working in advertising found themselves unemployed. Even so, Jim applied for positions and was offered a position in an ad agency in New York City. The salary offered would have paid only half of his cost of living there, so Jim decided to remain in hospitality at least until the advertising industry climate improved. Looking back, it was exactly the right decision.

In 1973, the Cascio’s offered him a career path that he couldn’t refuse. “They taught me the restaurant business for the next 13 years.” In 1985, Jim was hired as manager of the Lotus Club, a position he held until January 2020 when he retired. 

Anne’s career dreams came when she enrolled at Louisiana State University. During high school, she admits that she really had no idea what she wanted to be. She had worked in the Assistant Principal’s office at Neville during her junior and senior years where she did basic office work and assigned duties. “Mr. Turner became a wonderful friend,” Anne says, “who taught me organizational skills and how to appropriately deal with people of all ages.”

When she began at LSU, however, her dreams crystalized and she had what she calls her “Jane Goodall” epiphany — she wanted to go to Africa and shoot for National Geographic Magazine. She majored in zoology at LSU and planned to minor in photography, but life intervened.

All was on track until June 1970 when Anne’s 50-year-old father died from an unexpected massive heart attack. Feeling the need to be home, Anne returned home from LSU at Christmas that year and did not return. She did what she could to help her mother and brother (he was a senior at Neville), and saw firsthand how her mother coped with the abrupt changes in their lives. Anne’s mother had been out of the work force for 25 years, but she quickly learned what she needed to in order to continue alone. “She handled it all like a champ,” Anne remembers. “I made a mental note to learn all I could to be self-sufficient, no matter where my life led me.” 

Anne enrolled at NLU and majored in Business Management. The 90 credit hours she had earned at LSU didn’t transfer as major credits, so when she graduated in 1986 with her BBA in Management, she had accumulated 175 credit hours. She built a successful, rewarding career in banking and one that she loved. There were moments, however,  like the time she was working as a drive-in teller. She was waiting on a customer in the farthest lane, and a customer sent a check in to be cashed. Anne sent the cash back with her thanks. Unknown to Anne, the woman was being robbed by a man who had jumped into her car in a nearby parking lot. Happily, after they left the bank, he took the cash and ran. Only when the police arrived to question Anne did she realize what had happened.

Love and A Drive-Through Pneumatic Tube

Although Jim and Anne had been friends at Lee and Neville, they hadn’t dated. Jim stayed in Monroe for college; Anne ventured off to LSU. When Anne left LSU and began working at Regions Bank (formerly known as American Bank and First American Bank) in May 1971, a chance meeting in a movie theatre reacquainted the two. “We ran into each other at intermission of ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’,” Anne recalls. “Having just watched Lazarus walk out of his death tomb while hearing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’, I was a basket case, but evidently Jim didn’t mind my weepiness.”

Not long after that, Jim asked Anne out several times but she had other plans each time. Happily, he tried once more, this time sending her a note through the bank’s drive-through pneumatic tube that he knew she would open. It worked, and their first date was to the movies. At that point, she decided that Jim was “a keeper!”

The two married on February 1, 1975, at the First Presbyterian Church. A Hawaiian-themed wedding reception followed at Bayou DeSiard Country Club – especially fitting because two days after the wedding, the couple flew to Hawaii for their honeymoon.

They both place their honeymoon at the top of their favorite-trips-of-all-time lists. Although nearly perfect in every way, there was one hitch. On the day between their wedding and their flight to Hawaii, Anne decided to have her hair cut very short so that it would be easy to care for “. . . in the island breezes”. Jim told her that it looked “chic” and off to Hawaii they flew. “After we arrived in Hawaii, I washed my new ‘do’ for the first time,” Anne says with a laugh. “It took 2 hours to try and recreate the hairdresser’s magic! It wasn’t very funny then, but we could laugh about it after I had practiced for a few days.”

The two would go on to have two wonderful children – a son, Brent, and a daughter, Lauren. Anne worked full-time at the bank, and attended classes at night. She took one semester off for the birth of each child.

Changes Come 

No life is without its tragedies, and the Lockharts are no exception. Just as Anne was winding down her banking career in September 1995, their 14-year-old son Brent died as the result of an accident while tubing accident while tubing and skiing on Bayou DeSiard with his church youth group. Brent hit his head on the exposed pilings of an old dock, a fatal blow. There was a blessing, however, that came from a friend who was able to keep Brent breathing. This made it possible for Jim and Anne to donate all of his organs to others they didn’t even know who needed them.

Nearly a year later, Anne moved completely out of her comfort zone by taking a position doing professional fundraising for her alma mater. Among her first duties was to write a business plan to completely revamp the Greater NLU Annual Fund. “I pulled out every one of my business management textbooks and reports I could find, and did a lot of sweating!” Anne recalls. “The good news was that the plan worked well for a number of years.” She grew to love her work in Development, and cherishes the friends and colleagues she made during this, her second career. 

Both Jim and Anne find blessings every day, and many of those come from their daughter Lauren, and her husband, Andy. They live in New Orleans where Lauren is a commercial real estate agent and Andy is in business development. The couple has presented Jim and Anne with two grandsons, Lockhart and Liam. Jim and Anne’s fondest wish is to have good health for as long as possible so that they can play with their grandchildren and watch them grow up.

Give Your Time, Talents, and Treasure to Your Community

The Lockharts know firsthand the importance of community involvement. They have both volunteered as much as their careers would allow, and only regret that they couldn’t do more. Their churches (First Presbyterian and now Covenant Presbyterian), the United Way of NELA, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, the Junior League of Monroe, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and boys baseball and girls softball – all have been supported in one way or another by Jim and Anne.

Jim sees giving back to the community simply “one of the dues of life.” His career did not give him much time for volunteering in the leadership of community organizations, but it did allow him to support those groups’ catering needs. In recognition of his excellent tenure at the Lotus Club, the original poker/card room at the Club was named the Lockhart Room.

Anne, too, has been recognized for her community work. She was named one of the sixteen most influential women of the Delta (2012), received the ULM Alumni Association Service Award (2010), earned the Monroe Chamber’s Rambin-Silverstein Award (2016), the ULM Women’s Symposium Legacy award (2017), and the ULM Alumni Association Golden Arrow Award (2017). Both Lockharts believe that they have received much more than they have given to their community.

The Future Holds Promise 

Although both admit that retiring was a significant change in their lives, they also quickly admit that they love this new chapter! There are a few wishes, however.

Anne would love to have pizza with Sir Paul McCartney and have him sing “Yesterday” and “Hey, Jude” just for her. She confesses to having loved him since he and his band appeared on Ed Sullivan in 1964.

Jim would enjoy sharing a steak with his son, Brent, for Brent’s accident happened just before he had completed two years in braces. He had told his parents during that 2-year ordeal that the first thing he wanted to do when the braces came off was to have a steak dinner. Unfortunately, his accident happened one week before the braces were to be removed. “I would like to hear about his life with God and Jesus,” Jim says, “and I would tell him how much his mom and I look forward to being with him again when God calls us.”

When asked what a stranger meeting them for the first time would think of each of them, their answers were thoughtful.  Jim hopes that the first impression would be that “… I was quiet and thoughtful, but could be dry-witted when prompted.”

Anne hopes that the stranger would feel that he/she had just met..“ a kind, confident person who had a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face.”

Happiness is a core strength for both Jim and Anne and is a key to their many successes both personally and professionally. They are essentially happy souls who freely share their happiness with others. Their life together is reminiscent of an ancient truth that Buddha wrote: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”