Donald C. Wade, a longtime executive director of the Southern University Alumni Federation, died Thursday at his home in Baton Rouge.
Friends describe Wade, 77, as one of Southern’s staunchest supporters after spending nearly 30 years leading the Jaguars’ alumni group.
Johnny Anderson, the former president of the Southern University Board of Supervisors, said Wade’s legacy will live through the numerous students he assisted with scholarships, his efforts in recruiting new students and the way he modernized the Alumni Federation.
“He was able to create the different alumni chapters we needed to have in Louisiana and, really, all over the country,” Anderson said. “He was, in my opinion, the most fierce defender of Southern University that you’ll ever meet. His name is woven in the fabric of this institution.”
Wade enjoyed the distinction as serving at every level of alumni participation, from chapter officer through multiple ranks to alumni director emeritus.
“He was truly a Southernite in all his endeavors. This is a great loss for the Jaguar nation, but we are thankful to have known such a caring, dedicated and kind human being,” said Dennis S. Brown, Southern’s current Alumni Federation president.
Southern Chancellor James Llorens called Wade a “legend” and a “true son of Southern University.”
“We will all miss his wise counsel and advice, his genuine concern for his beloved Southern University and his resolve to do everything that he could to ensure Southern University’s continued existence and growth.”
Southern University system President Ronald Mason called Wade a “champion” for the university.
“The list of his contributions to his alma mater is long and much appreciated,” Mason said. “His love for Southern was unconditional. May his life and legacy be an example for each of us as we design the future of Southern University.”
The Monroe native worked as a supervisor for child welfare and attendance and a junior high school principal in the Ouachita Parish School school system before his time at Southern.
He also earned a Master of Science degree in administration and supervision from Southern and completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
Wade became the executive director of the Southern alumni group in 1970 before retiring 26 years later.
Wade is survived by his wife, Beverly Dixon, dean of Southern’s Honors College.
He will lie in state at Southern’s F.G. Clark Activity Center from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. The university will hold a memorial program at the same location starting at 6 p.m.
Anderson asked that people donate money to the Donald Wade Scholarship Fund in lieu of flowers.
Checks can be made payable to the Southern University Alumni Federation, 2115 Monterrey Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70815.