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Jack Christian

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Jack Christian

John "Jack" Christian
East Baton Rouge Parish, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
In office
January 1, 1957 – December 31, 1964
Preceded by Mrs. Jesse L. Webb, Jr. (interim)
Succeeded by Woodrow Wilson Dumas
Member of East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council
In office
January 1, 1953 – December 31, 1956
Personal details
Born (1911-01-22)January 22, 1911
Vicksburg, Warren County, Mississippi, USA
Died December 31, 1972(1972-12-31) (aged 61)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Caryol "Toby" Caulfield Christian (married 1942-1972, his death)
Children No children
Parents John C. and Bessie Nicholson Christian
Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Automobile dealer
Religion Episcopalian

John "Jack" Christian (January 22, 1911 – December 31, 1972 )[1] was a businessman who served from 1957-1964 as the Mayor/President of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[2]


Christian was born to John C. Christian and the former Bessie Nicholson (1884–1971)[1] in Vicksburg, the seat of Warren County in western Mississippi, located on the Mississippi River and site of an American Civil War siege. He was educated in the Vicksburg public school and then studied engineering at Louisiana State University, which brought him to Baton Rouge. From 1930-1937, he was employed by his father's automobile agency, Christian & Brough Company in Vicksburg. From 1937-1938, he was a representative of the Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company with duties in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. In 1938, he founded Baton Rouge Motors Company, with a franchise for Cadillac, La Salle, and Oldsmobile vehicles.[3]

Christian's work was interrupted by World War II, when he at thirty-one joined the United States Naval Reserve and served, accordingly, from 1942 to 1945. He was discharged from the military at the rank of lieutenant. After the war, he headed from 1946-1951 Jack Christian Motor Company in Baton Rouge. From 1952-1956, he was the sales manager of McInnes Chevrolet.[3]

In 1942, Christian married the former Caryol (Toby) Caulfield at the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. The couple had no children. He was Episcopalian. Christian was active in the Lions Club, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the American Legion.[3]

Political career

From 1953-1956, Christian, allied with the anti-Long faction of Louisiana Democratic politics,[4] served part-time on the Baton Rouge City-Parish Council, a combined municipal/parish operation, a hybrid of a city council member and a county commissioner, originally launched in East Baton Rouge Parish on January 1, 1949.[2][5] On August 22, 1956, Christian was elected Mayor-President and served from January 1, 1957, to December 31, 1964. In office, he introduced a major medical insurance policy for city-parish employees, created a system of job classification and salary schedules for the employees, and introduced a $21 million sewer expansion project.[3] He succeeded Mrs. Jesse L. Webb, Jr., who had served only a few femaining months of her husband's term.[2]

In October 1959, Christian, citing traffic and safety concerns, moved trick-or-treating from Saturday, October 31 (Halloween), to Friday, October 30, in order to accommodate the LSU Tigers football game.[6] During the game, Billy Cannon returned a punt against the Ole Miss Rebels, resulting in an 89-yard touchdown that helped to keep LSU undefeated and secured Cannon the Heisman Trophy, making him the only Tiger to have won the trophy thus far.[6]

On August 29, 1964, Christian was defeated for renomination by his fellow Democrat Woodrow Wilson Dumas,[3] a member of the parish council since 1953, who had served his first term on the body alongside Christian. Dumas served four terms as mayor-president, with service ending in his 1980 defeat by the Democrat Pat Screen.[2]

After his mayoral tenure, Christian was until his death the vice president and general manager of McInnes-Peterson Chevrolet. He died in Baton Rouge on the last day of 1972, three weeks shy of his 62nd birthday.[3][7]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ a b c d e f
  4. ^
  5. ^ The East Baton Rouge Parish listing of metro council members does not give the numbers of the districts. There is only a list of all who served during each four-year term of office.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses these sources in its biographical sketch of Jack Christian: the Christian Papers at the Centroplex Branch, Baton Rouge Public Library; Ellis Arthur Davis, The Historical Encyclopedia of Louisiana, Vol. II (1937); Baton Rouge Register, IV (1952); the defunct Baton Rouge State-Times, January 1, 1973, Christian obituary.

External links

  • Jack Christian Collection - Baton Rouge Room
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