Friends call Latham a devoted family man

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 16, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Friends of William &uot;Bill&uot; Latham Jr., who died Wednesday in Alexandria, are remembering him as a devoted public servant and family man whose word was his bond.

Latham, 76, was a Concordia Parish police juror for 12 years, including six years as president and parish manager. He was president of the 8th District of the Police Jury Association and served on the association’s state executive board.

Latham, who suffered from a number of health problems in recent years, was instrumental in establishing Riverland Medical Center and served on the hospital board for 10 years. He also served on the Concordia Parish School Board.

&uot;He was always helping someone else – that’s why he ran for things like the Police Jury and the School Board,&uot; said longtime friend and neighbor Glenn Ratcliff. &uot;And he’s one of the main reasons we got the hospital.&uot;

Latham was a charter member of the Ferriday Kiwanis Club, was a Mason, a Shriner and a member of First Baptist Church of Ferriday.

&uot;He always had God in his life,&uot;&160;Ratcliff said. &uot;He loved reading the Bible and knew a lot about it, and taught his daughter a lot about it, too. His family (members) were good Christian people.&uot;

And Latham was a man of integrity, said lifelong friend Austin Wilson.

&uot;I knew him all my life, … and when he told you something, you could rely on it,&uot;&160;Wilson said.

&uot;He was honest as the day is long,&uot;&160;Ratcliff said.

Wilson also remembered Latham’s sense of humor – especially the time that Latham went with Wilson to work for an oil company in the Gulf of Mexico for two weeks.

Neighbor and longtime friend Jack Lawless said Latham, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, was &uot;one of the best neighbors I&160;ever had. I used to go over there and we’d sit and tell war stories.&uot;

Ratcliff remembered his family and Latham’s were always together. When Ratcliff worked as a pharmacist, Latham would even drive Ratcliff’s children to their horse racing events.

Latham and his family &uot;were always there when you needed them,&uot; Ratcliff said. &uot;I&160;count losing him as losing a good friend.&uot;

&uot;I always thought the world of Bill,&uot; Wilson said, &uot;but if I&160;had to describe him, I wouldn’t know where to start.&uot;