It was a good day, said Loe Dunn, Northeast La. Technical College campus coordinator, and a bad day.
Family and co-workers celebrated the 16-year teaching career of Lamar Greer, who is now officially retired, on Thursday.
Faculty at the Bastrop campus arranged Greer's departing gift as a trip to Hawaii – at least, it looked like islands with tropical decoration and leis inside a classroom – where peers shared their appreciation for him, and wished him well.
The West Monroe native has taught a wide range of business application courses to thousands of adult students in day and night classes over the years.
“I tried to do more than just teach them a class, I wanted to give them an education so that they could get a job, be a success and support their families,” Greer said about his student/teacher relationships.
He started as the Bastrop campuses' accountant, but Norene Smith, the regional director emeritus who hired him – they were long acquaintances from a Sunday school class – said he kept telling her, “I really want to teach,” she said.
She relented, and scores of graduates have benefited from the decision, she said, noting their employment at government agencies, banks and many in bookkeeping positions.
“There have been a lot of students here who came in with low self-esteem, and we got to see them blossom,” she said.
Greer, who is chairman of the Bastrop 911 Commission, said it's rewarding when he's “out and about” in town, to run into former pupils and chat with them.
“A lot of them had nothing when they came here,” Greer said. “The odds weren't just against them, many had no odds at all.
“When they left here they had a job.”
Dunn said replacing Greer can't be done completely, calling him the “best accounting teacher west of the Mississippi River.
“What I'll remember most about Lamar is that he has been such a cooperative employee, doing everything I asked without complaints,” she added.
“I never saw him with rocks in his jaws.”