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Tulane Law remembers longtime benefactor Lester Sarpy

July 19, 2016

2016 Lester Sarpy

Aaron “Lester” Sarpy Sr. (L ’45)

Photo courtesy of the Sarpy family

Aaron “Lester” Sarpy Sr. (L ’45), a longtime New Orleans businessman and philanthropist whose scholarship fund has helped dozens of students attend Tulane Law School, died June 22 at age 91.

Sarpy was 18 when he earned his undergraduate business degree at Tulane University. After law school, he started Canal Mortgage & Finance Co., which financed, bought and developed shopping centers, subdivisions and other commercial properties in the New Orleans area, Texas and Alabama.  

In 1980, he established the A. Lester Sarpy Scholarship Fund, one of Tulane Law’s oldest scholarships. Sarpy was a 70-year member of the Louisiana State Bar Association.

One of his sons also graduated from Tulane Law, developer Chris Sarpy (L ’91), a force behind such projects as the renovation of Arabella Station bus barn into an Uptown Whole Foods Market.

“My father was very grateful for the education he received at Tulane. Our family would not be enjoying the success it has now without Tulane University,” Chris Sarpy said. 

Dean David Meyer noted Lester Sarpy’s diverse accomplishments in law practice and business and his strong support of student scholarships at Tulane Law.

“He established one of Tulane Law School’s first endowed scholarships and then added generously to the endowment for each of the next 36 years,” Meyer said. “Over the decades, his scholarship has helped more than 50 students realize their dreams of becoming lawyers.”

“Those students have gone on to success as lawyers, public officials, business people, federal judges and more, and each of them has given back to the community. Lester Sarpy’s quiet, unassuming generosity will continue to open doors for students in perpetuity and vividly illustrates the impact that donors can have on future generations.”


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