The University of Louisiana Alumni Association will honor Red Lerille during the 2011 Spring Gala. He was chosen as the annual event’s honoree in recognition of his community service and support of the university and its students. The Spring Gala will be held Saturday, April 2, at the Alumni Center from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
A 1987 graduate of UL, Lerille received the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2002. He and his wife, Emma Lerille, ‘91, have established the Red Lerille’s Health & Racquet Club / BORSF Endowed Professorship in Health and Physical Education.
The New Orleans native acquired a set of weights when he was a high school freshman and began weight training. As a member of his school’s wrestling team, he won three state wrestling championships.
He later won several bodybuilding titles, such as Mr. New Orleans (1955), Mr. Armed Forces (1958), Mr. Hawaii (1958), Mr. Dixie (1959), and Mr. Southern U.S.A. (1960). In 1960, Lerille’s ultimate goal was achieved when he won the Mr. America competition.
Lerille moved to Lafayette to work at Mike’s Gym. In January 1963, he established Red Lerille’s Health Club with only $250 and a room full of handmade equipment. Today, Red Lerille’s Health & Racquet Club is one of the largest and most complete health clubs in the South.
In 2009, Lerille purchased a popular Lafayette landmark, Borden’s Ice Cream Shoppe on Johnston Street. By renovating and keeping it open, he has preserved a historic building and given countless people the opportunity to enjoy a frozen treat at what is believed to be the last remaining Borden’s ice cream parlor. “It holds lots of memories for a lot of people, including me…I’d go in and get a scoop of pineapple sherbet,” he recalled in a recent interview.
Lerille estimates that he has hired hundreds of UL students during the past few decades, enabling them to earn money while working toward their academic degrees. He is an pilot and has restored 17 airplanes. He also enjoys traveling by motorcycle with his wife. They have four children – Mark Lerille, ’87; Kackie Lerille-Matt, ’92; Christine Lerille McGill, ’93; and Stanley Lerille, ’00.
The Spring Gala offers fine food and entertainment in an elegant setting. Silent and live auctions will offer a variety of items, ranging from original art to travel packages to Ragin’ Cajun merchandise. Sonny Launey, president-elect of the Alumni Association, is chair of this year’s event. Jennifer LeMeunier is auction chair.
Spring Gala tickets are $200 per couple or $100 per individual. Corporate sponsor tables are available for $5,000; patron sponsor tables are $2,000. All proceeds are dedicated to maintaining and improving the Alumni Center.
To purchase tickets, donate auction items or to become a patron or sponsor, call (337) 482-0900 or visit www.LOUISIANAalumni.org.