When Leo Comeaux received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from LSU in 1955, he was a first-generation college student unknowingly beginning a legacy. His father’s education had ended in third grade, but would be followed by the educational success of the elder Comeaux’ son and grandchildren.
Of Leo Comeaux’s four children, his three daughters continued in his footsteps to receive their chemical engineering degrees. This past spring, Comeaux’s granddaughter followed suit.
“He’s been a big inspiration for us,” Comeaux’s youngest daughter, Tricia Delaney, shared. “All of us felt our parents were very instrumental in keeping academics in front of us.”
As Comeaux’s 80th birthday approached, Delaney, her sisters and their brother, Michael, who graduated from the Air Force Academy, decided to honor their father with a chemical engineering scholarship in his name. “We wanted to give back to the school in a meaningful way,” Delaney said, explaining that all three sisters attended LSU on scholarships. “LSU was obviously very good to the three of us. It’s a tradition, and it’s family. LSU, in a very big way, is part of our family.”
Delaney and her sisters, Lori Annestrand and Lisa Vander Laan, were able to use ExxonMobil’s 3-to-1 charitable matching program to maximize their dollars. Delaney and Vander Laan, plus all three sisters’ husbands, are ExxonMobil employees, and Annestrand is a former employee. “They make it very easy to give,” Delaney said.
The scholarship will be awarded to a chemical engineering student from Louisiana, a requirement that Delaney said reflects their father’s past. “We’re all hoping to continue a young person’s education and help them achieve their goals in what we think is a very honorable and valuable profession.”
Comeaux shared that LSU provided him with the opportunity for an affordable education and the foundation for his career. To have a scholarship named after him provides a meaningful way to ensure his family’s legacy at LSU continues for generations. “I was really touched by what they did,” he said. “I feel privileged to have children like that.”
Published in Cornerstone Winter and Spring 2015.