Friends, family and colleagues described the Webbs as role models of friendship, leadership and character during the event. A capacity crowd at the Natchitoches Events Center attended to pay tribute to the Webbs who have served Northwestern State University as president and first lady since 1996. Webb is NSU’s longest serving president and announced his retirement in April.
A common theme among the speakers, which included area officials, old friends and family, referenced the Webbs’ humility, grace and integrity as role models and the importance they placed on making personal connections with individual students. Long-time friend and colleague Dr. Randy Moffett, an NSU alum who worked with Dr. Webb at the Southeastern Louisiana University and served as president of the UL System, described Dr. Webb as competitive, a compassionate leader and a role model. Friend John Ropp read an original poem composed for the Webbs entitled “18 Years of Commitment and Care.”
“These are great people, great leaders, and good friends,” said Parish President Rick Nowlin, describing a meaningful act of kindness in which Brenda Webb traded an appointment with an oncologist for a recently diagnosed cancer patient.
“They are the key to the heartbeat of this community,” said Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey, presenting Dr. Webb with a key to the city.
The couple’s daughters, Tamara Gatewood and Lauren Simokaitis also paid an emotional tribute.
“It is with great joy and a little sadness we leave NSU, which is part of our family,” Gatewood said.
John Manno made a scholarship presentation to the Webbs on behalf of the NSU Foundation Board of Directors. Donors contributed more than $120,000 to the Randy and Brenda Webb Scholarship. Dr. Webb was also surprised with another special gift. He will attend the St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training in West Palm Beach, Fla., attend two games and have dinner with the team. In addition, he will later go to St. Louis and throw out a first pitch in Busch Stadium.
The event closed with a video tribute to the Webb’s service to the University.
“You can’t know the love in our hearts,” Brenda Webb said in thanks.
“Robert Crew [retired executive assistant to the president] used to say I’m like Will Rogers – I never meet anyone I don’t like. It’s true; I don’t,” Webb said. “There is no experience without people. That’s the joy of live and being president of NSU. If you love what you are doing, you never work a day in your life.”