State museum ‘Heart & Soul’ award goes to board member

Sharon Gahagan (at right) received one of the Louisiana Association of Museums’ top awards Monday, the Lois Wyatt Bannon “Heart and Soul” Service Award. Shown presenting the award is Jennae Biddiscombe, branch manager of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History museum and an LAM board member.

Natchitoches resident Sharon Gahagan received a richly-deserved honor Monday from the Louisiana Association of Museums for her continuous and far-reaching service to the state and local museum scene. Mrs. Gahagan was presented the Louisiana Association of Museums’ Lois Wyatt Bannon “Heart and Soul” Service Award at the LAM convention luncheon at the Natchitoches Events Center as LAM held its annual convention. The honor recognizes an individual who has contributed significant time and expertise in support of a Louisiana institution, or institutions, enabling them to prosper in the local community.

She has served on the board of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Foundation since that entity’s inception in 2010, including a term as board vice president. “Sharon is a dynamic figure in the Natchitoches community and is beloved and respected around the state as well,” said Doug Ireland, chairman of the Hall of Fame.

“She is a servant-leader who will do anything and everything to support the Hall of Fame, our museum, and any cause she embraces, and there are a lot of them. She’s full speed ahead with everything she does to the benefit of countless thousands in Natchitoches and around Louisiana.” Gahagan is a co-founder and officer for FLASH (Friends of Louisiana Sports and History), the local support group for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum. “Sharon has been instrumental in getting funding for the museum’s temporary exhibits and programming,” said Jennae Biddiscombe, an officer with LAM who is the branch manager of the Hall of Fame museum.

“She continues to garner community support and funding for ongoing programming and receptions. Throughout the six years since the museum opened, she has lent her time, advice, skills and even personal items from serving dishes to tablecloths to ensure the museum hosts exceptional events. “Sharon is always available to help, to make a phone call, and to lend support in any way needed,” said Biddiscombe, who nominated Mrs. Gahagan for the honor.

“We would not be able to put on first class exhibits and events without her support and involvement.” She has also served for several years on the Louisiana State Museums board, which oversees management of all of LSM’s nine museums that are state funded and fully accredited. Mrs. Gahagan is constantly finding ways to help the Hall of Fame and many other local causes, including her leadership role on the board for the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts.

She is also a longtime member and officer on the Natchitoches Historic District Commission.