NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University honored alumna Leola Hunter Loftin of Natchitoches by hosting a surprise 100th birthday party in which she was congratulated by student-athletes, coaches and NSU Athletics staff. Loftin’s birthday was Sept. 14 and her celebration continued through the weekend with visits and well-wishes from friends and family.
Loftin is a native of Red River Parish and a 1938 graduate of Louisiana State Normal College, as NSU was then known, where she and her husband Bill earned degrees in education. Both taught at Martin in Red River Parish and Mrs. Loftin worked summers at the NSU library, first in what is now Russell Hall and later in NSU’s Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library. When her husband was named Superintendent of Schools in Red River Parish, Mrs. Loftin went to work at the NSU library full-time in government documents in 1962 and later in acquisitions until her retirement in 1977. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, the professional honor society for women educators, in Natchitoches and Red River parishes.
Bill Loftin, who passed away in 2006, was a star basketball player for the Demons from 1934-38. Mr. Loftin served in General George Patton’s Third Army during World War II. He later became a coach and principal and spent nearly a decade as superintendent of schools in Red River Parish.
The Loftins were devoted supporters of NSU basketball through the years and Mr. Loftin was the recipient of the Graduate “N” Club “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2005 when he was believed to have been the oldest living Demon basketball alumnus. After his passing in 2006, the family established the Bill Loftin Men’s Basketball Scholarship in his memory.
Loftin has five children, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Her daughter Faye Loftin Goode said she enjoys wildflowers, history and genealogy. She fondly remembers attending NSU’s 50-Plus lunches for alumni and until recent years attended NSU Library get-togethers.
At her 100th birthday celebration, NSU Athletic Director Greg Burke presented Loftin with a Demon jersey and Demons socks and arranged for a special cake to commemorate the occasion. He noted that the Normal letterman sweater than hangs in his office belonged to the late Mr. Loftin and is a popular conversation piece. Mrs. Loftin also received a Northwestern State blanket from NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio.
Loftin’s daughter said she received many warm and complimentary notes from former students wishing her happy 100th birthday and that visiting with the Northwestern student-athletes was special to her.
“She loved being around the young people,” Faye said. “She said she is a 100-year-old woman who appreciates them and wants them to work hard.”