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December 9, 2017
Benjamin Legendre devoted his career to Louisiana’s sugarcane industry.
Legendre, who passed away in July, spent more than 30 years at the USDA Agriculture Research Service Sugarcane Research Unit in Houma. He spent another 17 years with the LSU AgCenter, serving as a sugarcane specialist, professor and head of the AgCenter Audubon Sugar Institute.
Legendre’s family and members of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT) have created the Benjamin L. Legendre Sugar Heritage ASSCT Professorship, which will support LSU AgCenter faculty and LSU College of Agriculture students.
Stephanie Pertuit, one of Legendre’s four children, said sugarcane was the world to her father.
“He ate, breathed and lived it,” Pertuit said. “Almost every single memory of my dad involves sugarcane.”
Pertuit said the endowment seemed like a natural way to honor him.
“He loved sugarcane, LSU and teaching. I couldn't think of a better way to combine these loves and leave an indelible mark that will benefit generations to come,” she said.
Kenneth Gravois, LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist and secretary and treasurer of the Louisiana Division of the ASSCT, said Legendre always had a close connection with the organization.
“He spent 30 years as the association’s chairman at large, held institutional knowledge of the association and provided continuity and stability,” Gravois said.
Legendre grew up in the shadow of a sugarcane mill, where his father was the president and general manager of Lafourche Sugars Corporation.
Gravois said Legendre was an international authority on sugarcane breeding and quality, and was recognized for his work on plant growth regulators as chemical ripeners for sugarcane.
Legendre received many accolades throughout his career. He was awarded the Denver T. Loupe/American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Sugar Heritage Professorship, was inducted into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Fame and was chosen as an LSU College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumnus, among many other awards.
Legendre’s daughter Nicole Flanagan was humbled the ASSCT chose to keep her father’s legacy alive with the endowment.
“I think he would be very pleased to be remembered this way,” she said.
Contributions to the endowment can be made online at www.lsufoundation.org/benjaminlegendre.
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