Donald G. Bollinger
|Intro||American shipbuilder and republican politician|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||19 April 1915, Raceland, Louisiana, U.S.A.|
|Death||13 May 2000, Raceland, Louisiana, U.S.A. (aged 85 years)|
Donald George Bollinger (April 19, 1915 – May 13, 2000) was the founder of Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, Louisiana, who was from 1986 to 1988 the state chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. He was affectionately called "the Happy Republican".
After Bollinger graduated in 1932 amid the Great Depression from Lockport High School, now Central Lafourche High School, his father, George I. Bollinger, taught him and his three brothers, Dick, George, and Ralph, the mechanics of shipbuilding. Alex Barker, the senior Bollinger's employer, became a mentor to young Donald. In 1946, Bollinger launched his own business, Bollinger Machine Shop, now Bollinger Shipyards on Bayou Lafourche south of Lockport, along with help from his brothers, who returned from service in World War II.
In 1979, Bollinger contributed $73,000 either individually or through his shipbuilding enterprises to Republican gubernatorial candidate U.S. Representative David C. Treen of Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. In 1980, he joined the Treen administration, the first Republican governorship since Reconstruction, as the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, a member of the governor's cabinet.
In 1986, he became the state Republican chairman in a divisive campaign that unseated the seven-year incumbent, George Despot, an oilman from Shreveport. In 1986, under Bollinger's tutelage, the Louisiana GOP failed to elect U.S. Representative Henson Moore of Louisiana's 6th congressional district to succeed the retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Russell B. Long. Instead victory went to Long's preferred successor, fellow Democrat John Breaux, who held the seat for another eighteen years before it was finally won by a Republican, David Vitter in 2004. Bollinger stepped down as chairman in 1988 and was succeeded by another veteran of the Treen administration, William "Billy" Nungesser of New Orleans. Nungesser's son, Billy Nungesser, became President of Plaquemines Parish. Coincidentally, Nungesser's company, General Marine and Catering, serviced the offshore industry for which Bollinger built the ships.
Bollinger was a member of Lions International, the Holy Savior Catholic Church in Lockport, and the Catholic men's organization, the Knights of Columbus. Pope Paul VI awarded him the Papal Medal. Bollinger remained active in his Gulf Coast marine businesses until his retirement in 1989.
Bollinger was married three times, to Doris Toups Bollinger (1913-1986), to Fanella Lalande Bollinger (died 1988) and Patricia Boudreaux Bollinger. He is interred alongside his first wife at Holy Savior Church Cemetery in Lockport.
The Donald G. Bollinger Memorial Student Union at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish is named in Bollinger's honor.
Donald and Doris Bollinger had two daughters, Charlotte Bollinger (born 1947) and Andrea Bollinger (born c. 1951), one son, Donald Thomas Bollinger, known as "Boysie" Bollinger (born September 11, 1949), who became the chairman and chief executive officer of Bollinger Shipyards. Boysie Bollinger was a delegate to the 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and the 2004 Republican National Conventions. However, he was also a supporter of Democrat U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and cut a television commercial in 2014 for Landrieu in her unsuccessful bid for a fourth term against the Republican U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy of the 6th congressional district, based about Baton Rouge. In 2016, Boysie Bollinger was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.